Pizza Making Forum

Pizza Making => New York Style => Topic started by: canadave on July 21, 2004, 11:37:53 AM

Title: dough too stretchy
Post by: canadave on July 21, 2004, 11:37:53 AM
Hi all, wondering if someone can tell me what I'm doing wrong.

I'm noticing that if I make some dough, let it sit in the fridge overnight, and then freeze it for later use....the day I decide to use it, and let it come to room temperature outside the fridge, the dough is well-nigh impossible to work with.  First of all, it sticks to the metal cookie tin I've got it in, no matter how much I sprayed the dough and the tin with cooking oil when I put it in the previous day.  Second of all, when I finally manage to get the dough out, it's too stretchy.  I manage to get it into a flat disk, but the moment I lift it up in my hands to stretch it, it usually sags too much within a matter of a second or two and it rips 50% of the time.  The dough feels "limp" and exceedingly stretchy in my hands.

I'm using Steve's dough recipe--2 lbs. flour, 20 oz. water, 2 tsp yeast, 2 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and anywhere from 2 tsp to 1 Tbsp sugar.  The dough rises well overnight, just the right amount.  

The only thing I've changed significantly from not too long ago is that I've started using cold water, and I've started storing the dough in metal cookie tins instead of plastic grocery bags.  I'm thinking I should start by either raising the flour amount slightly or lowering the water amount slightly--the dough seems really sticky.

Any other ideas?

Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: Randy on July 21, 2004, 02:08:09 PM
Dave first after kneading the dough as you would, remove the dough and knead it by hand with a bit of flour on the board and your hands.  Shape into a ball.  This will help the stricking.
Remove the dough at least two hours in advance, divided the dough and reshape into balls.   Flatten the balls prior to shaping and let them rest while the oven preheats.
Try cutting you water back to 60%. say 19 oz. water.

Hope this helps.

Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: Arthur on July 21, 2004, 05:24:32 PM

I use the same recipe, but 1/2 as much yeast, no oil and no sugar.  I do use a tin too and coat the dough with a very small amount of olive oil.  I let it rest 2 hours outside the fridge and when I'm ready, I just scoop it up (sticky in places) and put flour on top and bottom.  I don't put it back into a ball, but rather keep its shape and just start forming the pie.  My dough is also a little "loose", but I am able to stretch it very very thin without tearing.

I am looking into getting wood dough boxes to let me dough rise since that will abosorb some of the moisture during rising and hopefully make a little firmer dough.

also, I use room temp bottled water...never a problem with bubbles and such.
Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: canadave on July 21, 2004, 07:12:34 PM
Hmmmm...actually, Randy, I already do the bit you mentioned about kneading the dough and shaping into a ball with floured hands.  Seems to stick to the tin regardless.  I think I'm definitely going to have to reduce the water content though a little bit, as you suggest.

I think Arthur hit on a point with it...the dough out of the tin is extremely moist...I can even feel the *air* inside is moist when I open the tin for the first time the next day.  The idea of wood proofing boxes would seem to be the ideal solution.  Where, oh where, can I get ahold of these? :)

Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: canadave on July 22, 2004, 11:13:52 AM
Talking about wood proofing's a PMQ article discussing the various types of dough boxes and their pros and cons!

Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: Randy on July 22, 2004, 02:34:54 PM
Dave this is a picture of my thin crust dough for tonight in my SS bowl with plastic lid.  It is a one pound dough ball that has doubled in size.

Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: Arthur on July 22, 2004, 05:02:56 PM
ironically I received an email today from Marsal & Sons...which I had sent them an email from the website you linked to, but I had seen that link in another post.

"Our wood dough boxes come in one size (24" x 16" x 3"). They are $45

That's a little to big for my fridge.  I've been thinking of just making one. How hard can it be to make a box?  :) dough never looks like typically looks like this

found here:;action=display;threadid=449

(maybe because I don't use oil???)
Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: Randy on July 22, 2004, 05:14:26 PM
Arthur, this is a thin crust and is meant to be very dry.;action=display;threadid=485 (;action=display;threadid=485)
Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: Peter on July 22, 2004, 08:03:59 PM

I happened upon your post this morning and thought I might offer up a possible explanation for what you experienced with your dough.  Based on what I have read on dough physics and chemistry, the problem may be due to glutathione and the use of a lot of yeast in a dough that has been allowed to rise, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator, before freezing.  

I am not entirely certain of the exact procedure you used to make your dough, but from what I understand if you freeze a dough after it has been allowed to rise, the dough just before freezing has an open and porous structure due to the yeast fermentation action.  When the water in the dough freezes, the water crystals expand and cause severe yeast cell damage, reducing the yeast cells' leavening power substantially (by 2- or 3-fold).  The damage will be more severe for a dough that has been allowed to rise at room temperature, but it can also happen, but to a lesser degree, in the refrigerator, and especially if a lot of yeast is used and the dough is able to expand in the refrigerator (which it sounds like happened in your case).  The "dead" yeast cells through freezer damage are substantial and they even have their own name-- "glutathione".  The glutathione leaches from the yeast cells and its effect on the dough is to cause significant softness, which will manifest itself initially by a slackness in the dough.  Also, the dough will not have a good rise and it will have poor oven spring.  The softness in the dough may be so pronounced that you may not be able to stretch it.  It will have to be pressed into the desired shape.  The pizza made from such a dough will not be one of your finest.

I don't think the cold water is at fault.  Cold water is actually a good idea for at least two reasons.  It can prolong the fermentation period (by putting the yeast to sleep a little bit) and, consequently, allow you greater flexibility timewise as to the dough's use.  The cold water also compensates for the frictional heat produced between the ball of dough and the wall of the bowl (stand mixer or food processor) in which the dough is mixed and kneaded.   Using the cold water will also more than likely allow you to achieve the desired final dough temperature of between 80-85 degrees F, notwithstanding the typical high summertime ambient temperatures.   If the cold water is not used, the frictional heat will more than likely raise the final dough temperature above the optimum range.

I'm puzzled by the problem of the dough sticking to the metal pan.  Metal is a good choice for retarding a dough since it is a good heat conductor and, like cold water, helps prolong the fermentation period, if that is what you are trying to achieve.  It may well have been water in the dough that froze, causing the dough to freeze to the pan.  It wasn't entirely clear to me whether you brought the frozen dough directly to room temperature to thaw.  The conventional advice is to put the frozen dough in the refrigerator section to defrost.  This will usually take over 15 hours.  The dough under these conditions will be ready to use the next day.  

Freezing in general is not the best thing to do to dough, and the repetitive cycling of most home freezers through defrost cycles is not particularly kind to dough .  Most people end up freezing dough because they have some left over or they change their plans such that they are unable to use the dough as originally planned.  I have more than once salvaged frozen dough through little tricks I have learned over time, but the end product is never as good as using the fresh dough, at least in my experience.  If you know in advance that you want to prepare and freeze dough balls for future use, there is a way to do that.  But it will not entail freezing the dough after it has first been allowed to rise.   Since I don't think you were trying to make frozen pizza dough from the outset for later use, this is a topic that is best saved for another day.

I hope my analysis contributes to the dialogue on this topic.

Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: Randy on July 23, 2004, 10:39:13 AM
Peter, that was a great reply.  It sent me searching for more information.

Sticky dough:  It could be Dave’s tin storage device is not large enough for the dough.  Dave do you use a tight sealed lid?

 I have tried frozen dough but I have found I prefer freezing the finished product over freezing the dough.  To make a frozen pizza more reheat friendly my taste buds tell me a higher sauce use produces a better-finished reheated product.

Dough temperature after kneading would make a great topic as a stand-alone.  Peter I will add a new topic to keep from interfering with Dave’s post.

Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: giotto on August 13, 2004, 06:36:37 AM
Woa, that picture of the dough with brain-like cells definitely caught my attention.  I can't help but think that the more traditional smooth looking dough is a better fit for the oven, even when a dry dough is of interest.  

Pete-zza's disclosure makes a great deal of sense, including the part that says 'avoid freezing'.  If you have to freeze it, Reinhart's recommendation to cook before you freeze concurs with Pete-zza.  There is a section on it in American Pie.  To freeze it after cooking takes up a lot of room though.  I've given it a couple of tries; but I've had far better success with doughs that have gone for as long as 7 days (with plenty of smooth delicious bacteria to prove it).  I secure the dough in plastic bags and reuse them many times over.  These bags are usually a hold over from pizzerias that bag raw dough for me from time to time.

I normally do not wait more than 15 minutes before refrigerating my dough.  I noticed that this is also the time frame that P. Reinhart suggests for his Neo-Neopolitan and NY style pizzas.  I like to slow the fermentation process as soon as possible, which gives me a dough that does not over-extend in my refrigerator, and delays the fermentation for my usual dose of 3 days in the refrigerator, without loss of taste.

Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: Pete-zza on August 13, 2004, 01:17:45 PM

You make some good points about freezing dough. I have seen the practice vary widely all over the place. Some people freeze the dough immediately after being kneaded, for use at a later time. Others will let the dough rest for several minutes, like an autolyse period, before freezing. Then there are those who freeze leftover dough, either after an initial rise and, in some cases, after one or more additional rises. The practice will also differ for professional dough makers and home bakers. The professionals, such as those who make frozen dough balls in commisaries for use by pizzerias, usually freeze the dough balls fairly quickly after kneading since otherwise they may start to grow in size and act as insulators and be difficult to cool down quickly once they go into the cooler.  For the small amount of dough used by most home bakers, this is not likely to be a problem.  

For those who may wonder why freezing pizza dough can pose problems, Tom Lehmann, the dough expert at PMQ, says that freezing, especially if it is done slowly in a home freezer (as opposed to flash freezing), tends to toughen the dough so that it is harder to shape (after defrostiing), and it may also affect the yeast (through damage to the yeast cell walls due to the freezing of moisture in the dough) so that the yeast's gassing power (the production of carbon dioxide) is reduced to a fraction of its original capacity. Also, as was discussed in a previous post, glutathione (an amino acid) can leach out of the damaged cells and have a softening effect on the dough and reduce its oven spring and limit the rise of the crust. Lehmann says that the damage to the dough during freezing will not be severe for up to several days, but the rise characteristics of the dough will be inconsistent and its quality will start to deteriorate if left in the freezer for really long periods. Also, there will be a loss of fermentation flavor in the finished crust, which many people like, because of the lack of fermentation of the dough while it is frozen. From my own personal experience, I dont think it helps the dough to also expose it to the multiple thawing and re-freezing cycles of the typical home refrigerator freezer.  

From what Lehmann says, if it is desired to make a batch of dough to freeze from the outset for later use, there is a way of doing this and limit the effects of freezer damage as discussed in the preceding paragraph. The dough that is to be frozen should be prepared in the usual fashion (using the preferred dough recipe) but, instead of using warm water (other than what may be needed for proofing, or rehydrating, yeast), the water used to mix and knead the dough should be ice cold.  (Some bakers, but not Lehmann apparently, also recommend that the amount of yeast be increased from normal levels to compensate for the anticipated damage to the yeast during freezing, however, care should be taken on the total amount of yeast used since an overabundance can foreshorten the useful life of the dough balls). Also, the dough should be mixed only until it takes on a smooth appearance. Once this stage is reached, the dough should then be divided into the number of pieces to be frozen.  (At this stage, the dough balls can be weighed to insure consistency in size.) The dough balls should then be shaped into round balls, be lightly coated with oil (any oil will do), covered with plastic wrap, and left to rise at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes, or until the dough balls can be flattened by hand or with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 1 1/2 inches. The flattened dough pieces are then placed into the freezer on a wire screen or rack and frozen completely through--not just at the outer surfaces.  Once this is achieved, the dough pieces can be put into airtight containers, as densely packed as possible (to reduce air space), and placed back into the freezer until ready for use.  

According to Lehmann, for best results, the frozen dough should be used within 10 days, but no longer than 15 days. Otherwise the dough will be subjected to the same type of dough damage and deterioration of dough quality and performance as discussed above. Beyond 15 days, it may be possible to use the dough to make pizzas, but the quality of the crust will not be nearly as good as one made within the 15-day window. To prepare the frozen dough pieces to make pizzas, the dough pieces should be removed from the freezer to the refrigerator section and left to thaw. This will take about 12 to 16 hours. The dough pieces can then be used the next day. Any dough pieces that won't be immediately used can remain in the refrigerator for another day or two. When ready to be used, the dough pieces should be brought to room temperature, covered lightly with flour and a sheet of plastic wrap, and left to rise until they are warm enough (above 55 degrees F, to minimize blistering or bubbles in the baked crust) to shape into pizza rounds.

I sometimes read recipes that say that pizza dough can be frozen for several months. I have not done so, although I have taken steps to "rejuvenate" dough that has been frozen for long periods of time. I'd be curious to know the experiences of othes in this forum with frozen dough.

Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: Artgirl1128 on August 25, 2004, 02:29:42 PM
I've been following the thread.  I'm new at making dough.  I want to plan ahead to freeze my dough.  I'm using a recipe w/ fresh yeast which takes 2 hours to rise.  Your instructions say to let the dough rise on 30 minutes.  Should I allow the dough to conitnue to rise after thawing or do I increase initial rising time to 2 hours?  Thanks.
Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: Pete-zza on August 25, 2004, 05:50:54 PM

Before attempting to answer your questions, I will first mention that the technique for freezing and subsequently using pizza dough balls is that of Tom Lehmann, a well-known and highly-regarded expert on pizza dough.  What I have said reflects the approach he recommends.  

With that in mind, you should make the dough as usual, using your selected recipe.  Since you plan to use fresh yeast (which I assume is supermarket fresh yeast), I suggest that you crumble the yeast into a bit of warm water (about 80-90 degrees F) and stir it together until well combined.  Do this a couple of more times over a period of about 10 minutes.  This is called "proofing" or "hydrating" the yeast, and you should see clear signs of life (cloudiness and bubbles).  You shouldn't go beyond 15 minutes since this will start to adversely affect the yeast.  Once you have proved the yeast, continue with the rest of your recipe to make the dough, using cold water for all of the water called for by your recipe (minus whatever you used for proofing the yeast).  As mentioned in my previous post on this subject, once the dough balls have been formed, you should let them rise for about 20-30 minutes, following which they can be flattened and then frozen.  Because your particular recipe calls for a 2-hour dough rise doesn't mean that you should increase the initial rise time from about 20-30 minutes to 2 hours (but see below).

Jumping ahead to the point where you have defrosted the dough balls and want to use them to make pizzas, you should take the defrosted dough balls out of the refrigerator and allow them to warm up to room temperature.  Usually, this will take about a couple of hours after removal from the refrigerator but the specific time and number of risings will depend on your particular recipe.  Some recipes call for one rising before shaping (usually after the dough has doubled in volume), whereas others call for two risings.  And some recipes call for more yeast than others, which can affect the total rise time.  You should be guided at this point by the recipe you are using.

You ask about the possibility of letting the dough rise for about 2 hours before forming into balls and freezing.  Normally, this isn't recommended because of the damage that freezing does to the dough and yeast performance, as discussed in detail in my previous post on this subject.  Also, the objective is to limit the gassiness of the dough balls as much as possible before freezing.  For these reasons, I would not recommend the longer rise time before freezing.  I think the combination of 20-30 minutes on the front side and a healthy rise time on the back side should fit within the confines of your particular recipe.  

Good luck.  Maybe you can report back to us on your results.

Title: Re:dough too stretchy
Post by: giotto on August 25, 2004, 10:43:47 PM
You think your dough is elastic... (

EDIT (3/22/13): For the Wayback Machine link to the above item, see (