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I've used several recipes for making pizza dough, most recently one from Delfina Pizza. My issue is that regardless of the recipe I use it is very difficult to work the dough into the pizza crust. It is usually very sticky and it tears too easily. I'm working on how to make the dough easier to work with, any ideas?

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It may help to visit a friendly pizzeria and ask if you can watch them make dough. Seeing and feeling it made properly (or any bread for that matter) helps immensely as it gives you an idea of how it should be. Cookbooks, articles, and TV don't give you that tactile info quite as well. Having worked in a number of pizza places in college, I've never used a recipe (I just remember how good dough feels, and what the basic method is). FWIW, this is a great way to learn any cooking method: donate your time to a local restaurant and see it live. –  Bruce Alderson Dec 18 '10 at 21:35
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4 Answers

That's just a bad pizza base recipe.

My family recipe is totally different. Not sure if I can post recipes here, but anyway here's a link to something similar http://www.recipepizza.com/doughs/pizza_dough.htm

You can use sugar or honey, it's just food for the yeast. You can use 2 or 3 times more olive oil to make a smother dough

Some extra tips:

  • In my recipe each cup of flour makes one thin 30cm pizza base. Most people make the base to thick and it wont cook properly

  • Try not to roll the dough, pull or push it out by hand, if it wont do this you made the dough wrong or you have the wrong flour

  • Let the oiled dough rise in a warm place with just a cloth over it

  • After making the base on the tray, let it rise another ten minutes before putting toppings on it. Be quick from when you start adding toppings and getting it to the oven, otherwise it will go soggy

  • Use the hottest oven you can dial up, or a hard wood fired oven. A thin crust pizza should take no longer than eight minutes to cook

  • Sing bad Italian Opera while kneading. You will either get good at singing, or get fast at kneading

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Nothing wrong with posting a recipe in an answer, but it would be more helpful if you could point out what you consider to be wrong with the original recipe. –  Aaronut Dec 19 '10 at 0:43
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The flour/water ratio in the recipe you quote seems off. The "normal" bread ratio, which includes pizza, is 5 to 3 by weight. Your recipe has less than 17 ounces of liquid so the flour should be 28 ounces or less...2 ounces may not seem like much but it can make a huge difference. And, of course, I don't know that you weighed it. If you went with 6 cups, well, who KNOWS how much flour you really used.

Ratios, particularly in bread making, are your friend. It makes it easy to scale the recipe (that's a LOT of pizza dough in that recipe), so you can throw together a pizza for a couple of people pretty quickly, just starting with a cup of water, and adding the 8 (oz) * 5/3 (oz) of flour or 13 1/3 ounces. Salt and yeast and you have a dough.

A couple of other thoughts. Good pizza dough IS sticky, at least a little bit. If it isn't, then it's too dry and will be heavy. And kneading the dough will make it less sticky as time goes on. If you kneaded it for the time mentioned in the recipe on a good machine, then it shouldn't have been sticky, but if you kneaded it for that long by hand, you probably didn't knead it long enough. There's a reason why I didn't start making a lot of bread or pizza until I got my Kitchenaid 600.

Make bread and pizza by weight until you get a good eye for how the dough should look. Once you recognize a finished dough, you can throw the right amount of water in your mixing bowl with salt, yeast and a bit less flour than you'll need, then just add flour until the dough looks right. But stay with the weight ratios until you know good dough when you see it.

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I agree that the dough recipe for that pizza looks dodgy. You might be able to make it work out with a really soft flour, like Italian 00 style.

You also complain, though of general problems with any recipe. I'm going to take them in reverse order.

If it tears too easily, you need to knead it longer, or let it sit longer before you work it. Kneading builds gluten, which makes the dough stretch instead of tear. Letting it sit for a bit (15-20 minutes) before kneading lets the water get fully absorbed by the flour, which also helps the gluten, and can also reduce the amount of kneading required (this is why no-knead breads work at all).

And while pizza dough is usually somewhat sticky, if you're finding it REALLY sticky, you've got too much water, or haven't let it absorb.

Breads are tricky, and ultimately hard to do strictly from a recipe. You need to learn what the right consistency of dough is for what you're making, and how to get to that point. I use bread recipes as a starting point, then invariably wind up adjusting amounts to get the dough texture I need. Find a recipe that almost works for you, then use it over and over, adjusting hydration, kneading, rise times, etc. each time until you've got it working perfectly.

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My attempts at pizza dough have been damp affairs used the farina 00 flour blah blah hold back on the water is what to try next! Every attempt has been eaten! Last one so sticky mashed and pulled play dough style onto tray even cooked it a little before toppings yum! So I guess if its sticky and extra flour isn't working, dry it out some with 5/6 mins and its not such a disappointment!

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