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For the title: I'm not sure if "elastic" is the perfect word here, so is anyone knows better one - put it in the comment.

I like thin pizza crust, but when I've made it myself it was hard and stiff - not very pleasant to eat.

I know that making a dough isn't an easy task, but I would like to hear your tips. What should pay attention to avoid hard and stiff crust?

I've heard about putting a pot with water into the oven to increase moisture. How about existence of oil in dough, does it change anything? How about flour type?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I generally use a fairly wet dough and add oil as well. One of the keys is to keep kneading to a bare minimum. This makes for a lighter dough because it has more air bubbles - kneading kills them. As for flour type, I like '00' type, but there are advantages to other types of flours - as 00 absorbs less water.

If you want to read a completely comprehensive guide to a lot of the factors, this is worth a read...

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+1 for adding oil. Be careful though, I accidentally made my pizza crust taste like biscuits once by adding too much.. –  Brendan Long Jul 17 '10 at 23:43
No, kneading creates the bubbles by aerating the dough. Of course, degassing (after the rise) should be kept to a minimum, but this is a different thing. –  rumtscho Apr 1 '12 at 19:53

Be careful with temperature and baking time. Bake on the highest temperature available (250C in my oven) for around 10 minutes. Look for golden color. When it gets nice, brownish tone, it's to late.

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An egg might help keep things moist, and therefore more elastic. I suspect oil won't help much, but I haven't compared.

A great pizza tip is to heat a cast iron skillet on high until is starts to smoke, slap the pizza in it, and shove under the brolier for just long enough to melt the cheese. This cooks the crust like a real pizza oven, which is usually something like 600-800*F.

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not sure about egg in the dough but I like the cast iron idea –  Ocaasi Aug 3 '10 at 9:41

I also use '00' flour along with a pizza stone, preheated in the oven for about 30- 45 minutes at the hotest the oven goes.

I've heard terracotta plant pot saucers can be used as cheap pizza stones but mine was a present and works well - the only difficulty I have is getting pizzas on it without sticking

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roll your pizza on parchment paper, put it in on said paper, and pull it out with said paper, removing to cool on a wire rack. It won't stick that way. –  justkt Sep 1 '10 at 18:40
I actually experimented last night - my method was to use a floured plate (not oiled as I first tried) and build the pizza on that, which was easy to transfer to the hot stone. Once it is cooked a wooden spatula can get it off easily. Thanks for the tip though –  NBenatar Sep 2 '10 at 7:42

I can't say this enough: you need to have a strong gluten structure in your dough, or else it will rip/tear/etc. A thinner (more viscous/wet) dough can help with this, but it is not usually sufficient. The gluten structure is what gives dough its stretchy, strong, elastic nature.

Oil helps because it helps the crust fry evenly and keeps it from sticking. Don't include too much because it breaks down the strength of your gluten structure.

If you want the dough to be strong and stretchable before baking it:

What works best for me is to use a high-gluten flour (such as bread flour, and sometimes I even add more gluten) and to knead the heck out of the dough. That builds a very solid gluten structure that can pass the windowpane test.

If you want the final, baked crust to be softer or "springy" and more bendable:

You probably want bubbles in the dough. To do this, make a yeast dough and let it rise for a little while before baking (as opposed to quickbread, using baking powder or baking soda to make bubbles). Knead the dough a lot. Adding too much oil can cause the crust to "fry" in its own juices, but you want enough to keep it moist. One thing I do is I partially bake the crust before putting on toppings (about 5 minutes -- just to make it a little firm). Then I add the toppings. If you wanted the crust to be softer, put a little oil or butter on the outsides of the crust (the edges and even the bottom, but not where the sauce will be). This will help keep it from drying out. You could also try baking the dough at a lower temperature to make it more like a bread and less like a cracker -- but you'd have to experiment with this.

As for kneading the dough: knead it a lot, but let it rise. Then you can use a rolling pin to keep it flat. Bubbles aren't bad -- small bubbles can help your dough bend.

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Why the anonymous downvote? How can I improve the answer? –  jvriesem Aug 2 at 19:25
I haven't voted on your answer, but your first paragraph is not good. And I am not sure if baking soda and pizza should be in same sentence! –  TFD Aug 2 at 23:27
@TFD: I mentioned baking soda as something not to do! :-) One can make quickbread pizza crusts, but I agree that yeast bread crusts are far superior...and won't give the results the OP wants. –  jvriesem Aug 5 at 0:05

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