With pizza being one of the most loved (and baked) dishes around the world, it's no surprise that there has been a lot of trial and error when making it! Pizza recipes can range from simple and easy to tedious and time-consuming. No matter the method you choose, there are various factors to be aware of when creating the perfect pizza. First, you'll need a great homemade pizza dough recipe, the dough will need to be prepped before use, then it will need to be stretched, put on the stone or pan, topped, and finally put into the oven to bake! While this process may seem straightforward, there are quite a few places where you can make your pizza even better. Use these helpful tips for pizza dough to avoid common pizza problems during your next attempt at making the perfect pie!
If you find that your pizza dough rips easily, here are some solutions to common pizza dough problems that may be the underlying cause.
Knead Your Dough Properly
Kneading your pizza dough helps build up gluten. If your pizza dough has not been kneaded for long enough, it may not have had the chance to build up a strong gluten network. When mixing your pizza dough, the flour and water create a chemical reaction that results in a build-up of gluten. Gluten is what helps create a stretchy texture, allowing the dough to stretch without breaking.
Though it's important to knead your dough thoroughly, it's not necessary to knead your dough for long. We recommended kneading your dough for about 4 to 6 minutes! Over-kneading your dough will create a fine, crumb-like texture, giving your dough a bready texture rather than a light and airy pizza crust.
Rest Your Dough
Tearing crust is a common pizza dough problem. If the gluten in your pizza dough hasn't developed enough, it can cause your dough to tear easily. Developed gluten is what gives your dough its pizza crust texture. If not processed enough when stretched, your dough will try to bounce back to its original ball shape. If your dough is resisting when stretched, then it will need to proof for longer before being baked. To allow the gluten to develop more, simply let your dough sit at room temperature for a while longer. We recommend at least a few hours.
This rest period is an essential part of the pizza-making process, as it allows the gluten to relax over time. Upon forming, gluten is very tight and strong, which causes the dough to tear when stretched. Giving your dough time to proof will prevent tearing and make it easier to spread. While a few hours will do the trick, longer is always better. If you have time, letting your gluten proof overnight in the fridge is ideal when trying to avoid common pizza dough problems.
Stretch the Dough Evenly
Use your hands to stretch the dough evenly, and always stretch from the outside. Extending from the middle will create too small of a stretch, and your dough will end up being too thin. We also recommend skipping the rolling pin. While great for making cookies, rolling pins usually result in a lot of pizza problems. Using a rolling pin on your freshly proofed dough will result in a thin, cracker-like crust. Too thin of a crust will be extremely hard to handle and won’t be able to hold your toppings. Instead, focus on the outer parts of your dough and try to create a uniform stretch that is about ⅓-inch thick.
Search for a High Protein Flour
If you've attempted a pizza dough recipe a few times and tried all of the tricks above and your crust is still tearing, then you may be experiencing a problem with your flour. The protein in flour is what forms the gluten, and the gluten is what creates your pizza crust's texture. Bread flours like our Artisan Bread Flour are high in protein and the best flour for making the perfect pizza crust. It's important to keep in mind that the more protein a flour contains, the longer the dough will need to rest. If not rested long enough, the dough will snap back to form with its high elasticity.
If you're gluten intolerant or cooking for someone who is, it's still possible to make a delicious pizza crust and achieve the right texture! By simply adding in a few crucial ingredients, you can create a gluten free pizza dough that acts much like traditional doughs.
This tasty gluten free pizza dough recipe uses millet flour, brown rice flour, baking powder, dry yeast and xanthan gum to reproduce the texture and flavor of a traditional wheat flour pizza crust. Not only is it gluten free, but it's also incredibly easy to make a vegan version as well!
Choose Your Toppings Wisely
One of our least favorite common pizza dough problems is soggy pizza. Now that you've mastered the art of making the perfect pizza crust, be cautious with your toppings. There's (nearly) nothing worse than creating a fantastic flavorful crust, only to have the result be a soggy pizza. When choosing your pizza toppings and sauce, pay close attention to the moisture content of each. Too many wet toppings like marinated vegetables and olives can weigh down your pizza and seep into the crust, causing it to become mushy. When choosing your pizza toppings, use a "less is more" approach and select toppings that complement each other; if your adding wet toppings like fresh tomatoes, be sure to balance it out with a dryer sauce or fresh herbs.
Too much sauce and cheese can also create a mushy pizza. It's better to use a few toppings that will complement each other, rather than overload your pizza with a lot of different flavors. If just a few toppings don't do, then try pre-cooking your toppings to get rid of some moisture.
Skip the Store-Bought Sauce
When it comes to sauce, make sure you're choosing the right one for your pizza. While tomato sauce is a popular choice, feel free to get creative with your sauce choices! Pesto sauce, olive oil and even hummus can be used to make a tasty pizza with a truly unique flavor.
Whatever sauce you choose, make sure it's excellent quality, and if you can, skip the pre-made stuff and make your own. Using fresh ingredients and leaving the processed chemicals out will help to create a healthier homemade pizza.
We love this quick and easy homemade tomato sauce recipe! Made with tomatoes, garlic and aromatics, it's simple, tasty and made in under an hour!
Bring on the Heat
To achieve a restaurant-style crust, cook a pizza at high temperatures. No matter what your recipe calls for, you must preheat your oven ahead of time. Don’t forget to keep your pan or pizza stone in the oven while it’s preheating. Getting your oven nice and hot will give it the crispy golden crust that you know and love.
Don’t Get Stuck
Another common pizza dough problem often encountered when making a pizza is that it gets stuck to your peel, sheet or stone. Using more dusting flour can quickly fix this! When working with pizza dough, dusting flour is a must. Sprinkling a little extra flour on your dough while stretching and baking it can keep it from sticking to your hands and other surfaces. Before placing your pizza peel or baking sheet in the oven, be sure to dust it with a little bit of flour before placing your pizza on top. Dusting will keep it from sticking and will help to form a beautiful bottom crust.
Bake Pizza Perfectly
Removing a pizza from the oven too soon is one of the most common causes of an undercooked pizza. Once you begin to smell your cooking pizza in the kitchen, it's natural to want to take it out of the oven and devour it. However, removing your pizza from the oven too soon will leave you with a doughy, undercooked pizza.
Don't be fooled by the melted cheese and cooked toppings, this does not always mean that your pizza is ready. To make sure your pizza is cooked thoroughly, once it looks ready to remove from the oven, leave it in for just a few minutes longer and check the bottom of the crust by gently lifting one side with a spatula. These extra few minutes are crucial for giving it the desired flavor and creating a browned, crispy crust.
Ready to start whipping up your very own homemade pizza? Check out our blog at Bob’s Red Mill for more pizza-making tips and tricks!