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heliman 10-06-2009 02:46 AM

Dough Stretching Problem???
I seem to have a recurring problem when I try and stretch the dough for pizzas. Using the standard Napoli Pizza recipe from FB I allow it to proof as suggested but when I come to stretch it for the pizza it doesn't stretch in a uniform manner. The result is that there are some thin sections towards the centre of the pizza.

I am wondering if this could be due to the length of time that I am needing the dough. I use the Kitchen Aid and knead it about 5 mins. Should it be needed more or less than this and more importantly, what could be causing the non-uniform stretching problem?



dmun 10-06-2009 04:57 AM

Re: Dough Stretching Problem???
You may want to start out with more dough in the center of your disk before you start to stretch it. By pushing the edges of the ball outward on the bench into a "flying saucer" shape with a bulge in the center, you have more material in the center, and a better chance of not getting too thin in the center.

Check out the Lehmann video at

The hand stretching technique is about halfway through this rather long video.

heliman 10-06-2009 05:44 AM

Re: Dough Stretching Problem???
Thanks for that - do you think my dough is kneaded long enough at around 5 - 6 mins? At what point is the dough "over kneaded"?? Just want to make sure there is not a problem with the raw material before checking the technique for possible problems...


texassourdough 10-06-2009 06:35 AM

Re: Dough Stretching Problem???
Hi Rossco!

You are simply suffering from lack of experience. And probably trying to treat WFO dough like NY dough. And you can't.

If you are making dough over about 60 % hydration (baker's percentage) it is virtually impossible to over knead by hand. And not easy with a mixer though more possible if you are using bread flour.

Your problem is your stretching technique. These are delicate doughs that can't be handled roughly or carelessly. The wet doughs will practically puddle if you give them a chance - i.e put your hand under the ball and watch it stretch and tear.

With practice you can do a lot of things with that wet WFO dough but the easiest way to get started is simply put flour in a sheet pan and put the ball on the flour. Flatten it somewhat and flip it over to coat the other side. Then start dimpling it with your finger tips around the outer edges of the ball and work your way to the center. (This shouldn't take more than 15-20 seconds with practice but don't rush it at first. You should end up with a relatively uniform thickness crust with puffy thicker spots. Work it out until it is the diameter and thickness you want. If you move quickly you can slap it from hand to hand and knock the excess flour off and it won't change shape much. Immediately drop it on the pre dusted peel (it will stretch like you describe and likely tear if you try to hold it).

With experience you will learn to handle the dough but give yourself a break and do it the easy way for a while!

heliman 10-06-2009 07:21 AM

Re: Dough Stretching Problem???
Hello Jay - thanks for that detailed explanation. So just to claify then, is the 6 mins OK kneading time with a mixer?

I have no problem to get to the finger pressing stage (slightly stretched dough) so I will give more care to the final stretching stage now. Will work on my technique and report back on my progress.

Have a pizza party for 6 here on Saturday so I'll get an opportunity to give it a go then.


Gromit 10-06-2009 07:48 AM

Re: Dough Stretching Problem???

How elastic does your dough feel? I have worked with doughs that stretch and bounce back like a rubber band and ones that stretch with absolutely zero tension and spring-back. My preference for an easy-to-shape dough is one that is only very slightly elastic.

Factors that promote extensibility (or less elasticity): Higher hydration, longer proof times (using less yeast or refrigeration), single rise (no bulk ferment), and weaker flour.

I haven't really figured out what I think about how much of a factor the kneading is in all of this, but I don't think six minutes in a KA could be too much. A wet dough with a strong flour and enough proofing time will form a strong gluten all by itself and there is not a thing you can do to stop it. If your dough tears, then your gluten is not developed enough due to inadequate kneading, too quick a proof, weak flour, or low hydration. At present, I am operating on the assumption that if a dough does not tear when stretching a pizza base, then the kneading was adequate; I am open to correction on this point.

texassourdough 10-06-2009 09:21 AM

Re: Dough Stretching Problem???
Hi Rossco,

I kind of ducked it because of too many variables. 6 minutes is almost certainly more than enough and yet less than overworking. KA mixers seem to add about 1 degree per minute to the temp. I usually do 5 to 6 minutes with a rest in between. About 3 to 4 minutes slow. Then five minute rest. Then 2 minutes at medium.

Overmixing doesn't sound like the problem.

RTflorida 10-06-2009 04:51 PM

Re: Dough Stretching Problem???
I don't think 6 minutes is overmixing. I don't own a KA, I have a Bosch. With my Bosch I only use the #1 speed (going higher DOES seem to overwork the dough). The Bosch is geared differently and the speeds seem considerably higher as well as only having 4 total speeds. TONS of torque with this mixer, If it had a big enough bowl I think it could handle mixing a bag of concrete.
I mix similar to Jay, 3-4 minutes then 5 minute rest, finish with another 3-4 minutes.


heliman 10-06-2009 05:45 PM

Re: Dough Stretching Problem???
Dough actually feels quite springy (65% hydration) but I am wondering if it has something to do with the "hardness" of the baker's flour I am using. Could I possibly increase the hydration rate a bit, and if so to what %? Note that the 9 grams of yeast is the fresh variety, but I decrease this to 3 grams when using instant.

As an experiment, I think that I will buy some 00 Italian flour (some "pizza" specific and some standard) and give that a go. Perhaps if I blend the standard 00 with baker's flour it may produce a smoother dough. I understand that Australian flour can be quite "hard" as a general rule..

I will also try the "phased" kneading process suggested - this should also make a difference to the end result. I don't think I can reduce the yeast level at all and I have tried (and usually do) the overnight fridge proofing method.... so will focus on the technique, kneading and definitely the flour.

VERY unfortunate that no Caputo is available here. May have to urge a local supplier to rectify this sorry situation. I am sure that there is sufficient support for the product here in Perth to warrant it!


Baker's Flour 500.0 100.00%
Water 325.0 65.00%
Fresh Yeast 9.0 1.80%
Salt 3.0 0.60%

texassourdough 10-06-2009 06:18 PM

Re: Dough Stretching Problem???
Hi Rossco!

You might want to play with blending AP and Bread flour. IF you have bread flour (13+% protein) you could probably go to 67 or 68 % hydration. I would say do a batch like you have done and one wetter.

My gut is telling me you will be happier with a dryer dough, not wetter. May be 62%. But first try the tray method for shaping the current dough. What you seem to me to be fighting is dough that lacks substance more than you are ready for.

But I may be wrong!

Hang in there!

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