Pizza is one of the most popular and versatile foods in the world. The combinations of toppings and ingredients are practically infinite, and everyone loves to personalize it.
One of the major differences in pizza taste preferences is the consistency of the crust. Do you like chewy or crunchy?
In this article, we’ll look at what gives pizza dough its texture, as well as how to ensure your dough comes out chewy every time.
Flour Affects the Consistency of Pizza Dough
As you probably already know, the ingredients that you use in your food matter. When making your own pizza dough, the type of flour you use will greatly affect the consistency.
Most pizza recipes call for 00 or bread flour, and that’s because these flours have higher levels of gluten than all-purpose flour (or cake flour, which should never be used for pizza). Bread flour has about 13% gluten while 00 has about 12%.
The gluten is what gives bread products their doughy, chewy flavor. Therefore, if you want chewy pizza dough, find a recipe that calls for 00 or bread flour.
Make sure you don’t just swap out the flour types in a recipe that calls for all-purpose flour, as the chemical reactions between the ingredients (typically yeast, flour, water, salt) are delicate and can be significantly affected by even small changes.
There is also a difference between 00 and bread flour, and generally speaking, 00 is preferable of the two. The added protein in bread flour can sometimes cause the dough to become tough, especially when it has sat out for more than 15 minutes or so.
Although the protein content is only slightly lower, many chefs (both restaurant and home) find that the slight reduction makes a difference in preventing the crust from toughening.
Use a Long Rise Time and Knead, Knead, Knead
Allowing the yeast to rise at a languid pace fully can also help craft perfectly chewy pizza dough. If you’re going to do so, you will need to find a recipe with a lot of salt since salt controls the pace of the rise of the dough.
Once the dough rises, follow your recipe’s instructions for kneading, but pay more attention to the feel and look of the dough than the amount of time you’ve been kneading. It should start with lots of little lumps, but be very smooth by the time you’re done.
How you roll out your dough has a less drastic impact on the chewiness of the dough than one might at first assume, but it is a factor nonetheless.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when rolling out your dough is to make it a quick job. When you roll the dough, you’re stretching the gluten out more (technically, continuing to knead), which will impact the consistency.
That is why most experts recommend using your hands to roll out the dough rather than a rolling pin. You may not get a perfectly round shape, but you’ll have a better-tasting pie in the end.
If you want a crust with a chewy consistency, roll it out to about half an inch. Any thicker, and you risk the dough being raw on the inside.
Alternatively, follow your recipe’s instructions for the size of the rolled-out dough. In addition, don’t roll it too thin, or it will burn.
Bake it Right
The equipment that you use for baking pizza will also have an impact on the consistency of the dough.
Hopefully, you have an oven that is able to get very hot; the higher the temperature, the better. Think about the best pizza you’ve ever had: chances are, it came from a scorching pizza oven.
You should also use a pizza stone. This unique product absorbs and distributes the heat evenly and gives the crust a chewy exterior.
Other Chewy Pizza Dough Tips and Tricks
Don’t overcook it
It may seem obvious, but it is still worth mentioning that you should not overcook your pizza or your dough. If your toppings should or need to be cooked thoroughly, prepare them ahead of time.
For example, you should probably cook raw vegetable toppings such as broccoli and asparagus, and you must cook raw meat toppings such as chicken and even thick bacon.
Measure your ingredients with a food scale
Another trick to perfectly chewy dough is perfectly measured ingredients. To get the most accurate measurements, ditch your measuring cups and spoons.
Instead, use a food scale. You’ll have the right amount every time.
Use filtered, room-temperature water
Have you ever heard someone say that pizza from New York City tastes better because of the water there? There is actually some truth to that statement.
The way that your water is filtered and how it comes out of the tap matters. We strongly recommend using bottled water or room-temperature filtered water for the best results.
I Did Everything the Same, but My Dough Is Different: What Gives?
Many factors can affect the outcome of pizza dough, and it can be maddening for home chefs.
For example, if you use the same recipe in the same kitchen with the same oven and other equipment, but do so once in the dead of winter and once in the summer, that change in climate could affect your dough. Humidity especially can have a massive impact on the outcome of your pizza dough.
Similarly, altitude can also impact the outcome. Visiting friends in Denver? You may not want to make the pizza for dinner.
Another culprit for bad pizza dough is inactive yeast. Store yeast in the freezer and replace it at least every six months.
Enjoy Your Pizza
Making the perfect pizza is an art, and one of the biggest reasons for this is that everyone’s definition of ideal pizza differs.
Once you find the right recipe and the best techniques for you, though, it will be worth it, and you’ll never have to dial Dominoes again!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.