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rshoward 07-06-2011 04:53 AM

Beginners struggles with dough
Hi everyone. I am becoming increasingly frustrated in my attempts to make dough. I have been following Jeff Varisano's internet recipe to the letter but, alas, have met with little success. The main issue is that the finished dough is not elastic - it "fights" me when I try to shape it, tearing and refusing to be stretched. Can someone please help me??? :) I use a KitchenAid mixer and a sourdough starter (which I know is good).

Here is what I have been doing:

- first I mix 382.5 grams of King Arthur Bread flour, 45 grams sourdough starter (poolish), 18 grams salt and 330 grams filtered water and let sit (autolyse?) for 20 minutes.

- mix dough on low speed for 5 or so minutes and begin adding the remaining flour (127.5 grams), increasing the mixing speed slightly. Continue mixing until the dough forms somewhat of a ball.

- rest dough for 20 minutes

- cut dough into 3 balls and store in plastic containers in the 'fridge.

As I said, the dough simply won't cooperate when I take it out to make a pizza. I have tried forming it straight out of the 'fridge and letting it warm at room temp for an hour or so. Still no success!!! Any advice would be most GREATLY appreciated!!! Sincerely, Robert

asudavew 07-06-2011 02:25 PM

Re: Beginners struggles with dough
Try this and see if works for you.

I've actually switched to all purpose flour because I found the higher protein flour I was using produced a tougher crust. But in your case it seems like you either need a higher protein flour, or you need to mix it longer to increase elasticity.

You are building gluten in your first round of mixing. But you made need to increase the time your are mixing after adding the remaining flour.

I sometimes mix mine for 10 minutes.

I just throw everything in. Set on speed 1 until it's all mixed together, and then let if mix on speed 2 (this is actually kneading the dough to build gluten and dough structure) for 7 or 8 minutes more. Don't just let it form a ball. Work that dough and build up the gluten content!

asudavew 07-06-2011 02:28 PM

Re: Beginners struggles with dough
Also.. are you getting a good rise?

I may have read your post wrong... is the dough too tough to stretch out? Or is it really easy to stretch but tears??

rshoward 07-06-2011 02:35 PM

Re: Beginners struggles with dough
I am getting a good rise, no problem there. The dough however is very elastic and not easy to spread. I'm starting to think I just need to be more patient. I really don't want to give up on the idea of making Neapolitan pizzas........ Any advice would of course be appreciated!

Steve (Robert) Howard

rshoward 07-06-2011 02:37 PM

Re: Beginners struggles with dough
It is very elastic and hard to form. Maybe I'm just rushing things a bit.

Steve (Robert) Howard.

dmun 07-06-2011 03:30 PM

Re: Beginners struggles with dough
Trying to go with a natural yeast starter and develop dough handling skills at the same time may be pushing the learning curve a bit. I'd try a simple yeasted dough until you get your feel for pizza handling, then branch out into the sourdough starters. You also don't need a mixer for those small quantities of dough if you stretch your cold storage to two days.

Use your same proportions, substituting half a teaspoon of instant yeast for the poolish. Mix the dry ingredients, then dump in the warm water. Mix with a silicone spatula until the dry ingredients are incorporated, wait the 20, kneed a few turns, rise for three hours, then divide into the tubs. Handle as little as possible after the cold storage. Never rekneed: that may alone be the problem.

Try this and see if you have better luck.

scottz 07-06-2011 05:54 PM

Re: Beginners struggles with dough
I find the most important thing when it comes to dough is the best quality high prot. '00' flour you can afford, and allowing the dough to rest. It is this resting period that allows the dough to be stretched. I had the same problems when I first started out, the dough would always fight me and spring back! Rest your dough....when you get the hang of it, you will know when it ready! Keep at it, you will get it soon! :)

asudavew 07-07-2011 07:10 AM

Re: Beginners struggles with dough
@RS try using all purpose flour and the standard recipe.
500 grams flour
300 grams water
I use 15 grams salt
5-10 grams yeast . Use 10 for a quick rise!

Put everything in your mixer. Speed 1 for about 1 minute. Then speed 2 for about 7 minutes.

Divide it into balls. 3 or 4 is usually good.

Then let rest in a warm damp place. Oven with hot water in it usually works.
Start firing your oven.

Meanwhile, the dough should at least double in size. Don't put it in the fridge.

If my dough rises to much, while I'm waiting for the oven to heat up, I will rework each dough ball so the trapped CO2 is released and let it rise again.

If you don't feel comfortable using all purpose flour, try using 250 grams of it and 250 grams of bread flour.

I'm guessing the protein content has something to do with your highly elastic dough. That and what Scottz mentioned. Let it rest.

Dmun been around a looooong time. He knows his stuff.

dmun 07-07-2011 08:53 AM

Re: Beginners struggles with dough
If the dough is too extensible, as it can easily be in hot weather, just don't let it get as warm. In hot summer weather, I sometimes use dough almost right out of the fridge. It doesn't stay cold long.

By the way, it's a lot better having your dough too stretchy rather than rubbery. That shows that you're developing gluten.

There's also a trick of starting your round with a lump in the center, the so-called flying saucer shape. That way it's easier to stretch out your skin without it getting too thin in the center. There's a video on PMQ demonstrating this,

It's the Lehmann series. Commercial orientation, but worth watching.

texassourdough 07-07-2011 03:05 PM

Re: Beginners struggles with dough
BF is IMO too high protein flour to use in pizza without adding oil to make it a bit more cooperative. At 65% hydration you are also on the low side of hydration for a lean dough. I am willing to guess that your dough is a bit overworked as well, leading it to "lock up" and not cooperate though your mixing schedule doesn't suggest it should be. Consider adding 2T of EVOO or raising the hydration to 70 percent or so. Either should give you a more workable dough. You could also reduce the first mixing time. 5 minutes is WAY more than you need given the wet nature of your first "dough". Mix it only a minute or two. Let sit for five minutes. Give it another minute and add the remaining flour (if you want to add the flour in two batches).

I only use AP in lean pizza dough for IMO straight BF gives a tough cornicione - and higher hydration won't fix it.

Good luck!

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