Hello and pizza dough question

Joined Dec 22, 2009
Hello. Glad to be part of your forum. I'm looking for some help with making pizza dough. I finally have a good recipe that produces the desired taste and texture for the crust. However, the dough at the stage when I'm ready to shape the pies - is difficult to work with. Specifically, if I lift one end, the weight of the remaining dough pulls and stretches very quickly - it's too elastic. Ultimately, it's difficult to transfer to the peel, but once there is easy to shape and bakes nicely.

I initially mix the dough by hand (stirring until I can't any longer, about 5 or 6 minutes) until it's sticky (I'll be getting a KA or Electrolux mixer once the economy improves). I transfer it to floured surface and cover it w/ a bowl, letting it rest for about 20 minutes. I then add/knead in the remaining cup of flour for another 7 or 8 minutes and cut it into smaller pieces/balls which I then refrigerate in containers for a day or two. I remove them about 2 hours before I'm ready to make the pies. The resulting dough tastes great but seems fairly loose. Is that the tradeoff for working with moist doughs?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! And good holidays!
Joined Dec 4, 2001
Welcome to the forum mroberts.

It would help a lot to know the specifics of the formula you are using.
Joined Dec 22, 2009
Not sure if this is too much information, but here goes...

4-4 1/2 cups all purpose non bleached flour
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1.75 cups water (half warmed to 110 for the yeast; balance ice cold)

I combine and mix the above in a large bowl stirring by hand (large wooden spoon) for about 7 minutes or until my arm dies. (I'm planning to get a mixer sometime next year). When i finish the resulting mass is usually wetter than dough I've used to make bread (someone already commented in this thread that it may be to hydrated - I dont' use all of the flour at this point, maybe 3/4 of it). I turn this out onto a lightly floured marble slab, dust flour across top and turn the bowl on top, let it rest for 20 minutes. At that point, I've used approx. 3 1/2 cups of the flour. After its rest, I knead in the remaining 1 cup of flour over a 6-7 minute period. I then cut the mass of dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each one into a ball/disk and put it in a lightly oiled plastic container which i then store in the fridge for a day or two. The first time I tried this method, I lightly oiled the dough, container, and as per Peter R's recipe/recommendation, also lighly sprayed the marble slab I use to turn the dough onto. It was very difficult to move to the peel or baking stone as it didn't hold its shape when lifted. Once it got to the peel, it was easy to shape/fix and the resulting taste was better than earlier attempts which did not include the resting period and refrigeration; I usually did the 2nd rise for an hour at room temp. That's about it. I'd like to get this figured out because at some point, I'd like to try making pizza dough from a starter. Thanks again for your help. Hope you have a nice holiday season.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Reinhart is pretty darn good, that's for sure. However, some of his methods can use some tweakage. I don't think that's a negative though, since he's often the first one to do the tweaking!

First, More Flour Right off the Bat:

This is one of those tweak with Reinhart things. The old idea was to add flour into the dough during the kneading process, basically as "bench flour," in order to keep the dough from taking on any more flour than absolutely necessary, and keeping it as slack as possible (good for pizza, ciabatta, etc.).

Just go ahead and add about 3/4 of that last cup of flour to the original mix.

The suggestion will make more sense, after you read the suggestion regarding rest/autolysis.

Second, Lose the spoon:

Mixing with your naked paws is messier and feels kind of gooey until you get the flour sufficiently incorporated so that the dough stops sticking -- which may not ever happen during the mixing stage -- but it's a lot easier on your hands, wrists, and forearms than trying to torque the spoon bowl through bread dough, by holding a narrow cylindrical handle.

Just mix until everything's incorporated. A benefit to this method is getting a real feel (duh) for what's going on in terms of hydration.

Third, Longer Rest/Autolysis with Intermediate French-Folds:

In his more recent books and videos Reinhart's been toying with an autolysis method which works for all bread doughs; but make slack doughs soooooooooooooo much easier...

"Autolysis" is just a fancy word for the rest period between mixing and kneading when the wets soak their way through the dries, evenly.

It's a good thing, no doubt. But it's even better if you do it in stages.

After mixing, let the dough rest 10 minutes, then take it out of your proofing bowl (bucket), and stretch it into a rough square shape. Fold that in thirds, to make a long, narrow rectangle -- letter style. Than turn the resulting triangle ninety degress and fold it into thirds so you've got a rough cube.

Put the cube back in your proofing bucket, and rest it. Wait another ten minutes and repeat the process. Then, for slack doughs, wait another ten minutes and do the same again.

Another ten minutes, take it out and and knead in the usual way. Use that remaining 1/4 cup of bench flour; and a little more if needed.

The effect of all that autolyzing and folding is to make the slack dough more manageable, less sticky, and more pleasant to touch -- even though it's just as wet. That you're getting more flour in earlier doesn't hurt either; and it's the extra autolyzing that makes that work, too.

Fourth, Form your crust directly on the peel:

Doesn't need explanation.

Fifth, Goodbye for Now:

Hope this helped.

Joined Feb 13, 2008
Sure thing.

Forgot to mention that you don't have to "proof" instant yeast in warm water. Just go ahead and mix it into your dry ingredients. Given the amount of time you are (or will be) giving over to autolysis; and given that you don't knead until after you've rested for twenty minutes as it already is -- the yeast doesn't need the extra time. Just use tap temperature water for everything. One way or the other, it's all going to be room temperature before it's kneaded; and it won't get a chance to really rise until after that.

On the other hand, if you don't mind all that temperature stuff -- it couldn't hurt.

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