Old 06-13-2009, 06:13 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: singapore
Posts: 1
Default Re: How do I make a pizza base like the pros?

Originally Posted by Puy de Dome View Post
But there is goes wrong, if it hadn't already! I just can't seem to get the dough to be 'extensible', compliant with my hands. It has area of very thin, and other areas of very thick. All the squidging in the world won't make it get any bigger than 6", and even then it has holes and tears in it.
I am having pretty much exactly this problem too .. help!

Background, I've been making pizza for years, but I've always made a very dry, very, very elastic dough you pretty much had to roll out (and even then it took some rolling). A few months ago I went back to basics, trying to learn how to make a better, wetter more authentic dough.

I'm using 00 flour (divella pizza flour) and following either the recipe in the forno bravo sheet or using one from King Arthur, with an overnight poolish then a fairly quick rise. The taste is coming out fine, but I am just not getting the stretchy consistency I need to hand-stretch the dough, it has some elasticity to it, it fights back somewhat as you press it out with your fingertips, but as soon as I start trying either to stretch it out on the counter with a stretch-and-turn motion, or stretch it out over my knuckles (even leaving most of it on the counter so gravity doesn't have much to work on) the dough rapidly thins in spots anywhere from 1/2 way to the middle and rips whilst the edges, where I'm stretching away, don't actually seem to get much thinner.

Another observation if it helps to visualize, when the dough is first mixed and kneaded and is quite wet, as you pull it out of the bowl it stretches and tries to come out as one mass, but you see the strands snap. My final finished dough seems like that too, it stretches to a point, but instead of smoothly thinning, it seems to pull apart in tiny layers rapidly making holes.

I'm kneading the dough in a kitchen aid with a dough hook. I've been giving it about 6-7 minutes between speeds 1 and 2. I feel the wetness of the dough coming out is about right, looks right, quite wet. As I'm using an 18 hour old poolish I then give the dough about 90 minutes rising time with one knock back, then weigh it, ball it and proof it for another 30.

As I said, I'm used to making very dry doughs which are super elastic, they are one solid ball of homogenous stretchy stuff, you can't hardly work them let alone tear them, so this pizza dough feels very odd and soft to me, I'm learning.

Am I massively underkneading it and not developing the gluten anywhere near enough? That seems to me to be possible (and what I'm going to try next, 15 minutes, then 20 minutes then .. whatever). Or am I hugely overworking it and destroying the gluten (seems unlikely 7 minutes in a kitchen aid would be close to that). I've watched dough stretching in a number of videos and my dough is nothing but nothing like that, you can't get it thin and put it over your fists, you'll go right through it.

Any tips very, very gratefully received.
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:43 PM
woodash's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New South Wales Australia
Posts: 4
Default Re: How do I make a pizza base like the pros?

Hi Puy de Dome
Have a look at this site, should be very helpful

Napoletana Dough

cheers woodash
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Old 07-09-2009, 06:45 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 1,719
Default Re: How do I make a pizza base like the pros?

I am going to take a wild flyer and I am confident it will help SOME of you but probably not everyone.

I think a lot of the problems of "limited" elasticity is probably related to overworking the dough. 00 flour seems to really not like to be worked once it is made. I.e. yes it is extensible...but form the balls no more than 15 minutes after you make the dough. Let the balls sit and rest as long as you want but don't wait to form the balls. My favorite pizzaria says simply, once you start to form the pie you can't start over 0 it will never be the same. And that is my experience. Forming the balls late from 00 is guaranteed to make tough, inelastic (actually the right word is inextensible) dough - it will keep shrinking back...

Making the balls early and retarding overnight means the dough will be fully relaxed and maximally extensible the next day when you want to form the pies. IF you wait to form the balls, it will NEVEr relax in time to be cooperative when you form the pies. It will fight you, Big Time!
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Old 07-09-2009, 07:45 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 1,446
Default Re: How do I make a pizza base like the pros?

Jay, valid points. I use Caputo 00 exclusively and a few time have been "distracted" while beginning to form my dough balls into pies, resulting in a very odd shape or extremely thin spot. Not thinking, I gathered up the dough, reformed the ball, and attempted to form into the pie. Disaster, mushing it back into a ball and attempting re-stretch it does not work. Each time I ended up with a crust that would only spread half of what it should and was very tough after cooked.
Don't get me wrong, I love Caputo; I have just learned not to attempt to work it a second time, so I am carefull the first time. Maybe it is just me. In any case, I follow the FB instructions with only minor tweaks to the salt and yeast, so I'm pretty sure it is not my mix. It has only happened 2 or 3 times so I can't say it always happens (I'm usually pretty focused when pizza building). Work it once, BEAUTIFUL crust, a second time - better to scrap it and grab another dough ball. My experience, for what it is worth - YMMV certainly applies here.

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Old 07-10-2009, 02:57 AM
CanuckJim's Avatar
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Prince Albert, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,480
Default Re: How do I make a pizza base like the pros?

Sounds to me like the problem is over-working and altering the starches in the dough. KA mixers create a lot of friction because of the design. Friction equals heat. The best way to monitor the amount of heat transmitted to the dough is to use an instant read thermometer. Doughs made with commercial yeast should not get any hotter than 77-80 F in the mixer. Wild yeast doughs shouldn't get warmer than 76.

With Tipo 00 flour, three minutes in a KA, then an autolyse of fifteen minutes, then two more minutes under the hook should be all you knead. Any more than that and it gets way too risky.

This problem is exactly why I invested in a spiral mixer and normally use water that's much cooler than the 90-100 F recommended in so many recipes.

"Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827
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