If you’ve never made pizza dough before or are still relatively new to it, you might wonder: Why is my pizza dough not stretchy?
Making pizza dough can be tricky, especially when you’re first starting out as a beginner and don’t know how long to knead for.
In this article, I will explore why your pizza dough is not stretchy and ways in which you can make stretchy pizza dough. Keep reading to find out more.
Why Is My Pizza Dough Not Stretchy?
If your pizza dough isn’t stretching in the way you would expect, there are a few reasons why that include:
Not Enough Gluten Development
If your pizza dough isn’t stretchy, then it is highly likely due to a lack of gluten development.
Under kneading pizza dough is an extremely common mistake that people make, and it can entirely ruin a pizza if you’re not mindful.
Generally speaking, when it comes to kneading by hand, you will want to knead for 15 to 30 minutes for the gluten to develop.
In the beginning, your dough might feel sticky and tough to work with, but the more elbow grease you put into it, the smoother and easier it will become to knead.
However, it’s important to get the right balance of gluten within your dough.
If you knead your dough too much, the gluten network will develop too much and the elasticity of the dough will make it too difficult when it comes to stretching.
However, if you fail to knead your dough enough, the dough will be too tough and will simply rip when it comes to you attempting to stretch it out.
However, it’s important to note that over-kneading your dough is less of a problem when you’re kneading the dough by hand rather than with a stand mixer.
If you decide to use a mixer, to avoid over-kneading the safest option is to knead it for 5 minutes increments.
After each increment of time has passed, make sure that you carry out a poke or windowpane test to check to see whether your dough is ready or not.
These 5-minute intervals are also important to allow the dough to rest, as using a stand mixer increases the dough’s temperature if you’re not careful.
Your Dough Is Too Dry
Another reason that your pizza dough isn’t right is that your dough is too dry.
In short, dough hydration is the amount of water compared to the amount of flour and is referred to as a percentage. For instance, 1000g of flour and 600g of water equals 60% hydration.
Generally speaking, the more water you add to your dough, the softer it will be.
Typically, the most suitable hydration for dough that is easy to stretch should be around 65%. It’s always an option to opt for higher dough hydration.
It’s important to note that the higher the percentage, the stickier your dough is going to become.
If you don’t want to struggle to knead a sticky dough, then you should aim for a dough with a hydration of around 65%.
However, if you go any higher, the dough will start to get stickier and will become much harder to work with, especially if you’re new to making pizzas.
Bearing this in mind, 60 to 65% is a good place to start when you’re making pizza dough.
Your Dough Is Cold
Another reason that your dough might not be stretchy is that your dough is too cold.
Attempting to make pizza with cold dough is never a sensible idea, as cold dough is incredibly challenging to stretch and work with.
In addition to this, when the dough is cold, it makes the process much more of a struggle.
This will likely result in you ripping your dough as you attempt to stretch it out and will leave you feeling frustrated.
However, you will need to ensure that the dough isn’t too warm, either. Generally speaking, your pizza dough will be easiest to stretch when it is at room temperature.
If you make pizza dough and then store the dough in the refrigerator, it’s crucial that you allow your dough to rise to room temperature before you try to form your pizzas.
To do this, you will need to remove your pizza dough from the refrigerator and allow it to rise to room temperature for around 2 to 3 hours.
Once this time has elapsed, you can then begin stretching your pizza dough and adding your toppings before you add your pizza to the oven.
How Do You Make Pizza Dough That Stretches?
There are many steps you can take to ensure that your pizza dough is both elastic and easy to stretch to your desired shape.
Choose High Quality Flour
When it comes to making a successful and delicious pizza, you can never underestimate the importance of good quality flour.
When choosing your flour, it doesn’t get much better than the flour that is designed for this very purpose: pizza flour. Pizza flours tend to vary in both gluten content and quality.
That being said, the majority of Italian Tipo 00 flours are typically around 11 to 13% and will provide you with the building block for beautiful pizzas.
Knead Your Dough For The Appropriate Amount Of Time
To ensure your dough has the appropriate amount of elasticity to stretch into your desired pizza shapes, you will need to knead the pizza dough for the appropriate amount of time.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are beginners is failing to knead their dough for long enough.
Once you get going, you’ll realize that kneading takes a lot longer than you first expected.
You should knead your dough for a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes depending on how it feels to you. However, you should never give up before this point.
Once you begin to knead, the dough will physically feel the dough becoming smoother. However, there’s no escaping the fact that making your own pizza dough takes time and a lot of patience!
The dough won’t become easier to work with straight away, but with a bit of an arm workout, you’ll get there.
The more you knead with your hands, the easier the dough will become to work with and stretchier as the gluten develops.
That being said, as I mentioned above, if you’re using a stand mixer it’s much safer to work in 5-minute intervals when it comes to kneading your dough.
This will help you to avoid over-kneading it and causing the gluten in the dough to become overdeveloped.
Relax Your Dough
A big mistake many people make is that they don’t give their pizza dough enough time to relax before attempting to stretch and shape it into pizzas.
When the gluten is allowed to relax, it becomes much more pliable and stretchy, making the process of shaping your pizzas much more easy and convenient.
The issue with this is that when you haven’t allowed your dough sufficient time to relax, the gluten is too tight, and stretching the dough becomes much more difficult than it needs to be.
When gluten is tight, it’s much more elastic and it, therefore, springs back very easily.
When separating your dough into balls, a common mistake is to stretch each dough ball immediately afterward. This comes down to the fact that the gluten tightens up after you’ve split the dough.
As a result, then, you will need to allow your dough balls the time to rest after you have split them into balls.
Relaxing The Dough
How much time your dough will require to relax will largely depend on the type of pizza you’re making and the stretching technique you plan on using.
For instance, if you’re making Neapolitan pizza, you should allow your dough balls to rest for around 8 to 10 hours.
This will result in a soft dough that you stretch into even pizzas without too much resistance.
However, if you’re rushed for time or are making a different type of pizza, you will need to allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes to an hour at the very minimum before you attempt the stretching process.
The longer you allow your dough balls to rest, the easier you will find them to stretch into your desired pizza shapes.
After you’ve allowed them to rest, you’ll notice that the dough feels much softer, lighter, and easier to stretch with your hands.
Allow Your Dough To Come To Room Temperature
When making stretchy pizza dough, it’s crucial that you allow your dough to come to room temperature.
Many people get too excited (or too hungry) and want to try shaping their pizza dough once it is straight out of the refrigerator.
However, the gluten tightens up in cold dough and therefore makes it more difficult to stretch and shape.
As a result, you’ll have a much harder time shaping it into the size that you want if you don’t allow your dough the time to warm up a little.
Remove your dough from the refrigerator in good time before you need to make your pizzas and leave it at room temperature for a few hours or until there’s no longer a chill to it.
Find The Correct Stretching Method
You could be struggling to stretch your pizza dough due to the technique you’ve opted for.
Making pizza isn’t a super regular occurrence, however, the more you make it, the more you’ll be able to discover which techniques work for you and which you’d rather avoid.
This might be a process of trial and error, but you will need to take the time to find the best stretching method for you and your pizza-making process.
Different stretching methods are easier than others, so you should try a couple and figure out which is the best option for you.
You can experiment with the different methods and once you have found it, you can apply it to all of the pizzas that you make!
However, you should always avoid stretching your pizza dough with a rolling pin. You’ve worked hard on your dough, and a rolling pin can undo all of that hard work in a matter of a few seconds!
The reason for this is that it can ruin your dough by compressing its texture as you flatten and roll your dough.
While you might find it tricky to stretch your pizza dough with your hands, a rolling pin is not your friend in this circumstance.
This is all the more reason to try out a few different stretching methods, as it means that you won’t feel tempted to reach for the rolling pin when you’re struggling to achieve the pizza shape you desire.
Make sure that you persevere and have patience. Don’t try to speed the process up with a rolling pin, as this will result in a pizza that is nowhere near as good as one that you can make with just your hands!
Use The Correct Amount Of Water
Getting the hydration in your dough right can be tricky, and may take you a few tries to master depending on the type of pizza that you’re attempting to make.
If you add too much water to your dough as a beginner, you will likely end up with a dough that is too wet, sticky and difficult to work with.
This can result in you using a lot of extra flour when shaping it, which can upset the whole balance of the dough if you’re not careful.
As you become more confident in your pizza-making skills, you can experiment with the amount of water that you add to your dough.
An increased amount of water can lead to softer, lighter doughs. However, it can take time to master a more difficult, stickier dough, so you should work up to adding more water if you’re a beginner.
How Do You Know If The Gluten In Your Dough Has Developed?
As a beginner, you might not know how to tell if you’ve kneaded your pizza dough enough. In this circumstance, there are a few easy tests that you can carry out to see if the gluten in your dough has developed.
The Window Pane Test
An easy way to tell whether the gluten in your dough has developed is to carry out the windowpane test.
To do this, simply break off some dough, and stretch it out as thinly as you can with your fingers without this causing a hole in your dough.
If you’ve kneaded the dough properly, you should be able to stretch it so that when you hold it up to the light, you are able to see light through your pizza dough as if it were a windowpane.
The Poke Test
The poke test couldn’t be simpler to carry out and is another way to figure out if the gluten in your dough has developed.
To perform the poke test, you simply need to poke the dough with your finger, carefully watch to see if the indentation left from your finger springs back.
If it does, this means that gluten is strong enough for you to move on to the next step.
Why your pizza dough isn’t elastic or stretchy comes down to a variety of different reasons, including the flour, how much you knead it, the temperature of the dough, and whether you’ve allowed it to rest.
Now you have a better understanding of the components that go into making your pizza dough stretchy, hopefully, you have the information and knowledge to fix your pizza when it’s not quite right.
Good luck making pizza!