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luminosity 09-13-2013 04:28 PM

Frustrated with dough forming
Greetings all, this is my first post here! I am new to pizza making and have been practicing for the past 2 months. I am using the recipe from the Forno Bravo ebook and have made several batches using Caputo type 00 pizzeria flour with instant yeast, cold water, and sea salt using 65% hydration and also have tried 62%. I have tried doing slow cold rises (2-4 days in the fridge) and warm rises (2 hours bulk, 1 hour after balled). In all cases the dough is wet and sticky when it's time to form. My big problem is, every single time I struggle to get the dough to form. I have followed the Forno Bravo video on forming dough as well as countless other videos on Youtube. My dough, even though very wet and sticky, never seems to be elastic enough to stretch without breaking up into holes.

With a nicely shaped ball, pressing down flattens my dough balls only slightly. I never get to a flatter disc to work with. When I do happen to be able to stretch it out enough, there are thin spots all over the place and sometimes a hole or two. I'm not even trying to go for perfectly round here, just trying to get it laid out well. So far, even measuring 280 gram balls, my dough still doesn't get thin.

i'm very frustrated at this point and not sure where I have gone wrong, every single time. Overworked the dough? I used speed 4 on my KitchenAide as instructed and it finished in less time than the instructions specified. I've been very careful not to handle the dough much. It feels baby soft, wet and sticky up until I form the dough. I am even forming dough on a 1" marble slab.

Seeing that my experiments were not going well, I switched to all-purpose flour just to get the technique down. I'm fairly certain it is even harder now to stretch the dough out.

Any ideas for this frustrated guy would be greatly appreciated.

sumu 09-20-2013 04:56 PM

Re: Frustrated with dough forming
4 cups bread flour 1@1/2 cups water 1/2 tsp yeast 2tsp salt 80-90de water add all dry ingredients mix then slowly add water split in 1/2 form 2 dough balls put in Tupperware with lid let stand for 2hours then make your pizza

hodgey1 09-20-2013 05:37 PM

Re: Frustrated with dough forming
I sent you a email to discuss stretching on the phone if your interested, typing the process out would take me "hunt&peck" a week.


sumu 09-21-2013 03:28 AM

Re: Frustrated with dough forming
sure i did not get your number

cleverdick 09-21-2013 04:20 AM

Re: Frustrated with dough forming

I totally feel your frustration! It took me over a year to get it right, but I found the FB ebook to be very helpful.

Possibly you are not mixing the dough for long enough (you don't actually say how long). I find that about 6-7 minutes is sufficient for a 500g flour mix.

Certainly the Caputo gives a smoother and more consistent texture, but the holes issue really does suggest an underworked dough.

tusr18a 09-21-2013 04:47 AM

Re: Frustrated with dough forming
I love working with dough because it is so difficult to master. As I read your initial post, I had flash backs of when I started working with dough. I too had similar problems. First, let's talk about dough ball prep. Use a flour with a high gluten content. That could be the Caputo flour or a number of different bread flours. As you are just practicing now, I would lean towards the less expensive brands. The fact that you mention that your dough is ripping may suggest that you are not allowing enough gluten development in the dough. There are a couple of approached to maximizing gluten development. First, you can knead the dough by hand for a good 10 to 20 minutes. That is a lot of work. Second, you can develop gluten with folds. This approach works as well as kneading and takes a lot less physical labor. In the folding method, knead your dough by hand until it is a cohesive mass. No more than 2 or 3 minutes. Then form the dough into a ball. Put a thin layer of flour down on the counter. Place the ball of dough on that flour. Lightly coat the outside of the ball with flour. Cover the dough ball completely with a thick towel. Let the dough rest on the counter for an hour. After that time period, uncover the dough ball. Grab opposite sides of the dough ball with your two hands. Stretch to dough ball out so it looks like a rectangle three times the size of the original dough ball. Fold the rectangle like you would fold a piece of letter head that you are going to put in an envelope. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and stretch it out again creating another rectangle. Fold the dough using the envelope method mentioned above. Now form the dough back into a ball. Cover it back up with the towel. Repeat this cycle two more times waiting 60 minutes and folding the dough. After this process is done, you will have dough that has the needed gluten development. Each time you fold the dough, you will see that it gets more and more elastic. Takes a lot of time but will not kill your body like active kneading can do.

If you want to allow the dough to develop some extra flavor, place the dough balls in a covered container and let them rest in the refrigerator for a few days. Try to put the dough balls in the warmest part of your refrigerator. If the dough is too cold, the fermentation that you are looking for will not occur.

While I know that there are a lot of different opinions here, in my opinion, when you pull the dough ball out of the refrigerator, give the dough time to come to room temperature. I find cold dough harder to push out. If a cold rise was used, let the dough sit on the counter for two to three hours.

Put the warmed up dough pall on a generously floured work surface. Using only your finger tips, press the dough ball into a disc. After 30 seconds, flip the dough disc over and use the finger tip method to continue increasing the size of the disc. The finger tip method should reduce the chance that you are causing tears in the dough. As a side, tears are no big deal. If the form, just pull the dough together around the tear and press down a little. Dough is great at self-healing. After the finger tip method has pushed the dough out as far as it can, pick up the disch and place your two hands that are in a closed fist position on opposite sides of the underside of the dough disc. The disc should be resting on the tops of your closed fists. One fist should be near the East edge of the dough disc and the other towards the West edge. Pull your arms apart catching the East & West edge of the dough disc. Rotate the disc 90 degrees and repeat. Keep working the dough like this until you achieve the desired diameter.

Please note that there are many other methods for pushing out the dough. Your approach of spending time with the University of YouTube is a great idea. If you approach doesn't do it for you, keep on watching those YouTube videos. You will find one that is right for you.

Hope this helps. The great thing about dough is that it is so hard to master. If it was easy to work with, I would get bored and move on. Good luck. Never give up. I guarantee you with some practice, you will be pushing out dough in your sleep.

tikidollracer 09-21-2013 08:58 AM

Re: Frustrated with dough forming
hi, i'm new here, but not new to dough balls. vital wheat gluten and a good dough mixer make a lot of problems go way. we have the electrolux. it's not artisanal, but then neither is elastomeric paint.


jbuildarkansas 09-27-2013 06:37 PM

Re: Frustrated with dough forming
I agree that you may be underworking your dough. I've been doing this for 3 years and I don't think I really grasped how important it is to develop the gluten in the dough for the longest time. I had some of the same types of problems you're having. I used to use a stand mixer but now I do it by hand. I like the feel of the dough and I can really tell a huge difference when it's adequately kneaded. I've used different types of flour, including 00, but I'm perfectly content with 80% KA bread flour and 20% semolina. It's silky smooth and almost creamy in texture. By hand, I did a batch today in about 45 minutes, 20 of which was autolyse.

I learn something new everytime I make pizza. I've laid awake nights wondering what I did wrong and what I need to do to fix it. I am just now consistently making pizza just the way I like it so keep trying. I'm sure you'll figure it out.

deejayoh 09-27-2013 07:56 PM

Re: Frustrated with dough forming
I'm surprised no one has suggested using the stretch & fold method. It's a super easy and (seems to me at least) almost foolproof way to work the dough.

The Stretch and Fold Method

SableSprings 09-27-2013 10:01 PM

Re: Frustrated with dough forming

Originally Posted by deejayoh (Post 162577)
I'm surprised no one has suggested using the stretch & fold method. It's a super easy and (seems to me at least) almost foolproof way to work the dough.

The Stretch and Fold Method

Tusr18a didn't call it stretch & fold, but it was described quite nicely in the first paragraph of his response (post 6 of this thread). I agree totally that using time, the refrigerator, and the stretch & fold technique is the best system I've used not only for pizza dough but for a lot of bread formulas.

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