Author Topic: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough  (Read 6535 times)

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Offline timmus

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Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« on: March 06, 2010, 05:07:49 PM »
Does anyone here spin/toss pizza dough?  Do you have any tips or advice to share?  I am getting to the point where I toss dough on the night every month or two when I make pizzas, as it makes a real difference in the pizzas.  I'm developing some confidence at tossing but am still not very good at it.

The most detailed explanation I've found is this page, which is very detailed, but sticks to the basics (i.e. using closed fists and using the dominant hand to balance and the other to assist with spin and toss).  Getting into advanced aspects of spinning and tossing, there is a very nice post here by Bubba Kuhn in the archive.

One thing I learned from observing the YouTube videos in real pizza kitchens is that the dough is first flattened a bit on semolina to form a large hockey puck, then is tossed horizontally from fist to fist to "open" it up, with no spin, then once it gets some size then it is spun and tossed overhead.

My own experience is this:
- The hockey puck needs to be as round as possible... it seems that any irregularity at this stage magnifies once I start tossing.
- Make an extra ball or two of dough, which gives me more confidence to be bold about tossing and can always be stored in the freezer.
- The ProDough fake dough seems to be a good investment (strictly the dough and maybe the carrier; the DVD didn't really teach anything).

My problems are occasionally where the dough goes in the air and folds up on itself like a taco.  I am guessing this is because I'm not paying attention to the fist movements needed.  It seems like the basic orchestration here is telling my fists (very quickly) to spin, THEN with great vertical accuracy, blend in the toss.

Still working at it... I can't be the only one!

Tim


Offline sconosciuto

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2010, 01:09:56 AM »
Hi Tim,
Over the past few months I have also been working on my dough tossing/spinning technique.  My primary objective for learning this trade is more for entertainment than functionality.  For my pizzas I use a rather wet dough that is kneaded by hand which is not really ideal for pizza tossing.  I prefer to hand stretch the dough as I seem to get a more uniform thickness and less chance for holes.  If you are wanting to use real dough to practice with the PMQ website has a recipe for Acrobatic Training Dough you might want to check out.  I believe it is tougher and resists tearing unlike a normal dough.

http://www.pmq.com/tt2/recipe/view/id_159/title_Acrobatic-Training-Dough/

My problems are occasionally where the dough goes in the air and folds up on itself like a taco.  I am guessing this is because I'm not paying attention to the fist movements needed.  It seems like the basic orchestration here is telling my fists (very quickly) to spin, THEN with great vertical accuracy, blend in the toss.

I own a ThrowDough and actually found the instructional video somewhat useful, you just have to pay very close attention to the actual hand movements they are using.  It sounds like you are trying to toss the dough with both hands in a fist, am I reading that right?

EDIT (3/22/13): For the updated link to the PMQ Recipe, see http://www.pmq.com/Recipe-Bank/index.php/name/Acrobatic-Training-Dough/record/57732/
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 10:40:38 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline dms

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2010, 09:22:58 PM »
Practice!  rEally, just make some dough up, and practice with it.  Dough is cheap.  (I assume you don't want to eat pizza every day for a week.) 

Offline loowaters

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2010, 08:48:28 AM »
spin/toss pizza dough...it makes a real difference in the pizzas. 

I agree...just not necessarily for the better.

learning this trade is more for entertainment than functionality. 

This is more accurate. 

Hand shaping the dough on the bench is fine and you do have more control over uniform thickness.  I'm far from an expert on Neapolitan pies but I think some sort of technical foul is called on pizzaiolos that remove the skin from the bench during shaping.  :D

Loo
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Offline Puzzolento

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2010, 10:32:51 AM »
I used to use a roller on my pies, and they were beautiful, because it's so easy.

When I started tossing the dough, the crusts seemed to come out slightly lighter.

The main reason I toss crusts is that it knocks the flour off the dough.

Offline loowaters

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2010, 10:40:53 AM »
I'll give you that.  It does remove a lot of the bench flour.

Loo
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Offline sconosciuto

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2010, 11:52:35 PM »
The main reason I toss crusts is that it knocks the flour off the dough.

Agreed but I feel the same thing is accomplished by using less bench flour and gently tossing the dough back and forth between my hand a few times after being partially opened and before stretching.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2010, 12:43:28 AM »
hmmm, I agree that it's more for show but I do on occassion toss it for fun.   I find that if the dough is too slack, prior to adding bench flour to it, I lightly oil my hands rubbing excess off with a paper towel prior to handling the wet sticky dough.   Dough should be close to room temp here and I fold the dough several times by thirds for left to right, restretch, and then fold top to bottom.   After several cycles of folding the dough has a lot better structure.  I ball up the dough by tucking it into itself from underneath.  Then let the newly formed dough ball rest for another 30-40m.  Now the dough ball will have a lot better structure and not so slack.  Now if I want to toss it, it's possible. 

after the 2nd proof (after folding), I then lightly add flour to the top and bottom stretching it out first on the counter, then stretch using knuckles back and forth and only tossing a couple of times to finish.  I might stretch again and toss again if needed, but usually not. 

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2010, 09:38:59 AM »
I'm afraid that if I mash the dough against the stove (the surface I use for making pizza), I'll end up making it less lofty, as it was when I used a roller. Also, it can cause sticking problems. Tossing is pretty much effortless and risk-free, and the crust quality is optimized. No reason not to do it; plenty of reasons not to do it the other way.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2010, 11:52:38 AM »
Tom Lehmann once opined on the subject of tossing/spinning dough as noted in the following quote:

Hand tossing of the dough isn't just for showmanship, or to give your customers something to watch while their pizza is being made. It serves a very functional purpose. The spinning action of the dough helps to create the desired round, circular shape, and the air flow over the dough surface helps to dry the dough for improved handling properties (ever try to toss a sticky dough? It ain't a pretty sight). That same drying of the dough also forms a bit of a skin on the surface of the dough, which helps to achieve a crispier crust characteristic.

Peter


Offline cranky

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2010, 10:08:26 PM »
Go watch Dom DiMarco on Youtube.  I wonder who knows more about making skins and great crust, Tom or Dom.   Just a thought.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2010, 10:59:14 PM »
Go watch Dom DiMarco on Youtube.  I wonder who knows more about making skins and great crust, Tom or Dom.   Just a thought.


cranky,

It's no contest. Dom wins hands down. However, I think it is only fair to point out, as I discussed at Reply 122 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg11222.html#msg11222, that Dom uses a dough that contains 75% Caputo 00 flour, which has a rated absorption value of only 55-57% (it goes up some when you add in the 25% high-gluten flour), to make about 22 ounces of dough for an 18" pizza where the dough has a hydration of around 65% and a thickness factor by my calculation of 0.0865. I don't think that Dom could toss and spin such a dough if he wanted to and, at about age 73, I don't think he is about to start. It would be interesting, however, to see a skin tossing and spinning contest between Tom and Dom  :-D.

Peter


Offline GotRocks

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2010, 11:52:30 PM »
Guys, this may sound real stupid, but I learned how to toss dough by using a slightly damp dish towel about 12" square

it gave me something to play with that did not tear or stick together to gain the wrist action needed, once I get the general hang of it, then I was given some dough to play with. this was way way long ago in the early 1980's, And I have not played with pizza on a commercial basis since about that time, my restaurant experiences lead me down a different path, but now I am looking at pizza again, but at my own place.

I was taught to use my palms to flatten the ball on the table first, then stretch the outer edge with my fingers on the edge and palms in the center, then to pick it up,  drape the dough over my fist's and stretch that way, then finally do a  spin-toss to gain the proper diameter.

I never got into fancy tricks, just opening the dough to make a pie.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2010, 08:14:41 AM »
Guys, this may sound real stupid, but I learned how to toss dough by using a slightly damp dish towel about 12" square


GotRocks,

Not stupid at all. See Reply 5 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,223.msg1791/topicseen.html#msg1791. See also Reply 19 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10152.msg88839.html#msg88839.

Peter

Offline cranky

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Re: Techniques for spinning and tossing pizza dough
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2010, 07:16:02 PM »
Pete,

I suppose the dough recipe has a lot to do with it.  I have been making pizza at home for many years.  I am not nearly as knowledgable as many on the forum, but I spent the first 24 years of my life in NYC and all my family comes from the city.  They say my pizza is the best they have ever had.

What works for me is to treat the dough and skins as gently as possible.  I used to spin dough just for the sake of doing it.  My grandsons were impressed.  Now I don't slap, wack, roll, toss.  I try to get the dough stretched with as little handling as possible to avoid degassing.  If you are going to beat dough up why not roll it?  I usually don't rise my dough in balls, but rather in a pie safe, so it is already somewhat flat and does not need to be pressed out with fingers in the initial forming.  A few pats and a slow easy stretch and it is ready to go in a few seconds. 

There is no one right way to make pizza.  The best pizza I ever made was an accident.  I broke all the rules and could not do it again.  I had all the kids home and grandkids and was making pies and putting them on the table.  On the next to last pie the top was not done, so I turned on the broiler and raised it up for a final toast.  I never did this before, but read about on the forum.  Then I turned off the broiler and served the pizza and sat down and had a slice.  I dressed the next pie and put it on a screen and on a stone near the bottom of the oven.   I went to have another slice.  When I checked the pie I realized the oven was off and had been for some time.  I turned it on and left the pie in the oven thinking this would be the disaster pie.  It took forever to bake.  It came out with the crust a uniform dark golden brown, no charred blisters, very crisp on the outside, with great airy chewy crumb and taste.   Everyone said it was by far my best pizza ever.   They raved about it and I agree. 

 


 

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