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6 Tips to Try with Pizza Dough That Won’t Stretch

6 Tips to Try with Pizza Dough That Won’t Stretch

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Though we may differ over many things, most of us can agree that there’s nothing like homemade pizza!

You can choose your favorite toppings, make sure they’re fresh and tasty, and enjoy it with friends and family whenever. However, one hurdle that can stop this little dream is pizza dough. 

You need to make pizza dough just the right way for it to make the perfect base without accidentally turning it into bread or cake!

Yet, even if you use all the right ingredients and time everything perfectly, stretching the dough can come and wreak havoc on your recipe

That’s why, today, I’ll give you six tips that’ll help you out when your pizza dough won’t stretch. Ready? Let’s get to baking!

Stretching Out Your Pizza Dough

Stretching Pizza Dough

You’ve probably witnessed it yourself: an expert pizza chef tossing a disc of yummy and elastic dough into the air and stretching it out nimbly until it is circular and ready to be topped with tasty ingredients.

While you don’t need to toss the pizza dough flamboyantly into the air, it still needs to be stretched out so it can be topped and cooked. This is where a lot of people at home get stuck.

Sometimes, the dough stretches, only to snap back to its smaller size. Other times, the dough simply tears and rips apart.

So, how can you stretch your dough properly at home to make delicious pizza for everyone? Here are some tips on making the most of that pizza dough stretch:

1. Let the Dough Rest Properly 

Letting your dough rest is an essential step when preparing dough for… well, almost anything! However, when it comes to pizza, this step becomes extra vital as it also helps with the elasticity.

You see gluten, a protein found in wheat flour, develops as you knead the dough, creating a network of strands that give the dough its final shape and elasticity.

When you’ve just finished kneading the dough, this gluten network is very tight and elastic, which can make the dough snap back or tear when you stretch it.

As a result, it’s best to allow the dough to rest for at least 20–30 minutes before stretching it. This relaxation allows the dough to be less springy and more pliable, making the shaping process more manageable.

2. Make Sure the Pizza Dough Is at the Right Temperature

If your pizza dough seems too elastic and snaps back and shrinks even when you stretch it out, it might be because the dough is too cool.

The aforementioned gluten in cold dough becomes tighter due to the lower temperature, and this causes it to shrink when stretched out or snap back into place. 

The best way to fix this issue is to warm the pizza dough to room temperature before stretching it out.

If you happen to have bought your pizza dough already mixed from a store and it’s cold, you can place it into a mixing bowl that has been oiled.

Then, cover it and leave it for about half an hour. It should then be warm enough to handle and stretch.

If you have a pre-made batch of pizza dough you’re pulling from your freezer, see my tips on the best ways to defrost it.

3. Use More Olive Oil

Pouring Olive Oil Onto A Spoon

Once you have your warm pizza dough ready to go, it’s time to start stretching it out.

Some people like to cover the cutting board or kitchen bench with flour, but this isn’t always a good idea with pizza dough.

It can actually change the consistency of some pizza dough and make it tougher!

What you need to do at this point is to use two to three tablespoons of olive oil. Cover your hands in the oil and the preparation surface as well. 

This way, you’ll stop the pizza dough from sticking and tearing. It’ll make stretching it a lot easier, and it’ll also ensure that the pizza dough comes out nice and golden after baking in the oven.

4. Press Out the Pizza Dough First

Before you start stretching the dough into shape, you should press it flat with the palm of your hand. Be firm and ensure that the dough is nice and flat.

Once you’ve done this, you can use the middle three fingers on your hands, one hand at a time, to press the dough into a wider circle from the center of the dough circle. 

Ideally, the disc should be about six inches in diameter, with a depth of at least half an inch. What you might find during this process is that the dough snaps back a little.

It’s normal for it to be a bit elastic during the process, but if it shrinks too much, it’s probably still too cold.

In this case, you need to rest it in a covered bowl for another 15 to 20 minutes until it gets as close to room temperature as possible.

5. Gravity Is Your Friend

Stretching Pizza Dough With Hands

Even though pizza dough tossing looks great, it’s not the ideal way to stretch dough at home. That method is best left to experts who have been doing it for many years!

The best way to stretch your dough is to grab one part of the side with both hands and let the rest flop down. Gravity will gently stretch the dough downward.

Keep passing between your fingers until you’ve evenly stretched out from all outer parts of the diameter.

Ideally, the finished pizza base should be about one-third of an inch thick. Furthermore, don’t worry too much if the stretching has resulted in thin areas or small holes.

6. Use a Dough Relaxer

If all the previous options fail you, don’t worry! There’s a final secret trick you could use and that’s dough relaxers. 

This is a more advanced technique in preparing dough, but it helps to modify the texture to make handling the dough easier.

In their essence, dough relaxers are additives that alter the gluten structure, making it more pliable and less elastic. 

One of the most commonly used ones is L-cysteine, an amino acid that works by breaking down the bonds in gluten. By weakening these bonds, you end up with a softer dough you can shape and stretch however you like.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Do dough relaxers affect taste or texture enough to be noticed?

No, not really. However, if you go overboard and add too much, you’ll taste something funky, especially in the crust. So, keep the amount you use as low as possible.

Baking the Pizza

Now that you’ve stretched it out, you can place it gently on your pizza pan ready to be topped with yummy ingredients. This is also when you have a chance to fix any thin areas or holes.

The pizza base might have shrunk back a little bit, but as long as you have about 10 inches across, you’ll still have a perfectly good pizza to work with.

Make sure any thicker parts are flattened out so the base is about one-third of an inch thick. Then, you can cover any holes or thin spots by folding over adjacent areas. Just remember: it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Final Thoughts

Pulling Fresh Pizza Out Of Oven

Homemade pizza is a yummy treat for all of your family and friends, but making the pizza dough isn’t always easy. Many people have problems stretching the dough out in the right way without tearing it or having it shrink back too tightly.

This can be frustrating, especially if you’ve already spent hours making the dough and have hungry people waiting to eat!

The good news is that this is rather easy to fix. Most of the time, cold pizza dough or inadequate resting time are the culprits. 

Just ensure you’re working with a rested pizza dough that’s at room temperature so you can stretch it out more easily.

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W L Middleton

Friday 2nd of July 2021

Many thanks! Tips came in very useful and made pizza rolling a lot easier.