Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community (
-   Pizza (
-   -   Need Dough Tips (

DavidK 01-04-2006 04:18 PM

Need Dough Tips
OK, here's one for all the accomplished dough makers out there. I made my first pizzas this past w/e. Tasted great, but the dough work left me with a lot of questions... :confused:

My process, following the recipe on the site using Caputo flour:
I turn out the dough from the mixer onto my lightly floured work surface, ball it up (it's sticky) and put it into a lightly oiled bowl for a 2 hr covered rising. Everything is done at room temperature.

Taking it out of the oiled bowl, it sticks a little to the bowl. Is that normal?

OK, I take the ball and cut it into smaller pieces and, with as little flour as possible on the counter and on my hands, turn it inside out (a la paul's excellent photo tutorial). The balls are still very sticky and somewhat hard to maneuver. Should I use more flour on the counter? Some dough instructions suggest dusting top and bottom with flour before handling...

I then roll the balls against my unfloured work surface into a tight ball with no opening -- no problem here but they're still sticky and I need to move fast or they won't come off my hands and onto the final rising surface.

For my final rise, I put the balls on lightly oiled baking sheets. Second rise goes well but when it comes time to get them off the baking sheets, they stick to it... more oil? Is a floured surface better?

Last, when I begin to work out the dough on my "lightly floured" peel, the dough is very soft and easy to pull too thin (picture swiss cheese). Forget about trying to pick it up. The dough pulls apart under it's own weight... OK, so what's the deal here? To warm? To moist? Not risen enough? Or is it just dough in the hands of a total novice???

:confused: Thanks for any guidance...

helenb 01-04-2006 04:27 PM

Hi David,

It sounds like you aren't kneading the dough properly at the beginning. Here is how I make the dough:

600g pizza flour
2 teasp yeast
pinch salt
1 tab extra virgin olive oil

approx. 2 cups of lukewarm water

Mix all the above (except water) in a bowl then gradually add the water until the dough is moist and starting to stick. I then turn it onto a stainless steel counter and continue to add the water while kneading the dough (using the heal of your hand).

At first it will be a bit messy but then it all comes together - keep kneading until the ball of dough it nice and elastic and easy to handle. Put in a bowl, cover with a cloth and leave for 2 hours or so.

Then knock the dough down, knead again and cut into segments - I make about 6 pizzas from this.

It's more work than a machine but the result is worth it. Also, once you practice a few times it is very quick and easy to make.


Helen from Australia.

DavidK 01-05-2006 06:04 AM

Thanks for the input Helen, but..
I'm mixing the dough in a stand mixer, 2 minutes slow, 5 minutes fast, 2 minutes slow, adding water until the dough rises off the bowl and climbs the dough hook. The dough is, at this point, very smooth and appears well blended...

james 01-05-2006 08:19 AM

Hi David,

It sounds like you are really close. A well-hydrated pizza dough is soft and pretty delicate to touch. One idea that comes to mind is that your dough might be a little too moist -- sticking to things a little too much. Still, if you don't hydrate the dough it ends up tough, doesn't stretch and doesn't spring (puff up) in the oven.

A couple of other ideas. To get your proofed dough balls off the surface, use a pastry knive -- a rectangular tool with a handle. That's a must have.

Also, flip the ball over so that the underside is up and becomes the top of the pizza. It is nice and fresh, and doesn't have a skin from air contact. With the soft dough, I end up doing a lot of the shaping on the work surface. Before I found the Caputo flour I did a lot more handling in the air.

Have you experiemented using dough with and without olive oil. I have heard the Italian flour described as being silky, and not needing the oil, where it is more necessary with US flour.

Practice, practice. It's a tough job. :)


DavidK 01-05-2006 09:15 AM

OK, practice I will! I do have a dough knife and use it but because I did my proofing on pans, it's hard to get underneath. I may do everything on my granite counters this time.

As for moist, I definitely did one too moist and that was apparent :rolleyes: Both batches used olive oil, so for this round, I will leave it out.

So the falling apart isn't that unusual. Gosh, and here I was planning on tossing them... OK, well, I guess I'll just play with it more. I suppose you can't have instant perfection...

Thanks again!

james 01-05-2006 09:32 AM

Try erring on the dry side and seeing if you can toss it. It's fun, and the kids love it.

I make two separate batches all the time, just to see how they behave differently. You can always use the extra dough to make a foccaccia or schiacciata and eat it for lunch the next day.

You can bake those in a pan with a lot of olive oli -- both on top when you are proofing, then after it comes out of the oven.


helenb 01-05-2006 02:59 PM

Hi James,

Can you please give some tips on tossing - I haven't tried that yet! I am having a pizza party tonight and will, for the first time, use my home grown basil and tomatoes!


Robert Musa 01-05-2006 04:31 PM

#1 tip: mop the floor before you begin... :D

james 01-05-2006 04:44 PM

Hi Helen,

Fresh tomatoes and basil -- you are so lucky. All we can grow is mushrooms in the lawn.

First off, I have never had a real lesson on this from a pro. So take this with a grain of salt. I throw pizzas with the back of both hands. After working the dough ball out to 6"-8", I roll my fingers forward, lay the ball across the back of my hands, and really try to spin it horizontally. It's the spinning action that streches the dough. Two or three tosses, and you are done. You set it down, finish pushing out

I've seen a couple of different pizzaioli in Sorrento throw pizze vertically. They get it spinning like a wheel using their fingers. Tried it, but can't do it. One advantage to throwing is that you don't handle to dough as much, so it isn't as tough when you are done.

Have you seen this photo?

I think Mel saw Tony Gemignano, the American champion pizziaolo. I wonder what Tony would say... maybe we'll ask him.


DavidK 01-09-2006 06:49 AM

Left out the olive oil, hydrated carefully, used flour a bit more liberally, threw in some of Helen's manual dough abuse and voila! While the dough never left my hands, I was able to pull it out on the back of my hands into nice round pizzas. The dough was crispy, but still flaky inside! I even received my first (hopefully of many) "this is the best pizza's I've ever tasted" compliment! Thanks everyone for the input!

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:15 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0
2006/10 Forno Bravo, LLC