We're currently using

  • 500g strong flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp yeast
  • 325ml water

This produces a usable / edible dough, but we're finding it very "dense" or "heavy". It's very filling when eaten, and has little to no air pockets. It's pretty hard work eating it, even when made thin.

How can we alter the dough to make one with more air? A lighter, easier to eat dough.

  • 2
    Is your yeast still healthy? Also, how long (and at what temp) are you resting the dough after the first kneeding? Does it have enough time to at least double in size?
    – Joe
    Jan 9, 2011 at 13:59
  • Yeast is new. Leaving for 30 mins in warmish oven covered with slightly damp cloth (turn oven on for a few mins then turn off once slightly warm). It didnt double in size though. Didnt really change size at all ;-/
    – Sirex
    Jan 9, 2011 at 17:23
  • if it hasn't doubled in size, something is wrong. How did you proof your yeast (or did you use instant?). What temperature was the water? Did you consider using oil?
    – justkt
    Jan 9, 2011 at 17:27
  • water was "lukewarm" as in recipe. It was "active yeast". Just said to add to water. - used a little oil before cooking and after, if thats what you meant.
    – Sirex
    Jan 10, 2011 at 7:59

6 Answers 6


You really need the dough to double in size for it to not be overly tough.

30 min might be enough time under some conditions, but it's not always; if you're in a rush, you might be better off making a biscuit dough rather than a yeast dough.

To ensure a good rise, I'd recommend the following:

  1. Make sure to use warm water. I run the hot tap 'til it feels a little warmer than body temperature. (I check it against the inside of my wrist).
  2. If using a metal bowl, pre-warm it by filling it with hot water, then dumping it out.
  3. Proof the yeast to make sure it's active -- Add the yeast to the warm water (possibly with a little flour or sugar) and wait 'til it foams up before adding the rest of the flour and other ingredients (especially the salt)
  4. Allow to rise in a warm, but not too warm place. Sometimes, a low oven is too warm and will kill the yeast. In the summer, I leave it in a sunny place, in the winter, I put it on top of my radiator. If you don't have radiators, but you have an electric heating pad with a low setting, you might try that. Rather than turning on the oven, you can also put it in there, but rather than heat the oven, boil some water separately, and put it in the oven and pour it into a shallow tray to add some thermal energy.

If the dough has doubled, and it's still coming out too tough for your liking, you can try:

  1. Add some oil (olive oil or neutral flavored oil) to the dough. Try a tablespoon or two. Add it before adding in the water, and just mix in what water you need for it to form a dough.
  2. Switch to an all-purpose rather than a bread or strong flour, or a blend. (or a blend of whole wheat and bread/strong flour)
  • 2
    I no longer use "quick" yeast. Standard dried yeast is slightly cheaper, the effort of activating as Joe describes is negligible, and it's reassuring to be able to see your yeast is healthy before you mix the dough.
    – slim
    Jan 12, 2011 at 18:16

There are a few factors that can cause any dough to be dense.

First, your proof (or rise) may happen at too warm of a temperature. Cool rises help form gas bubbles in the dough as the yeast converts sugars to gas and alcohol.

Second, any gas produced during a rise may be expelled when you roll it out, so it's often suggested to not use a rolling pin on pizza dough, rather press it by hand into the shape you want and then let it rest.

Third, cooking temperatures greatly affect the spring of the dough in the oven. Cook on as high a temperature as you possibly can to cause the maximum amount of yeast activity before it dies from the temp.

Jeff Varasano has an extremely in-depth look into New York-style pizza doughs if you have the time and are interested.


My pizza dough is pretty light when rolled flat. I use an egg white to add a bit of protein, 1tbs sugar, 2tsp yeast. I usually mix the flour and salt separately from the egg/fat/sugar/water/yeast, using room temperature water. Once the yeast is nice and active, I add the wet ingredients to the dry and knead. Typically I rest a dough for two hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.

This doesn't make a good dough for hand-tossing but it works well for thin crust.


Are you kneading the dough well enough? That is one of the most important factors. It is during the kneading that gluten will form in the dough. Gluten is what makes the dough elastic, but it is also the gluten that will allow the gas generated during proofing to be captured in pockets.

I would say for 500g of flour, knead for at least 10 minutes if kneading by hand (maybe more).

You also need a flour with a high amount protein (at least 12g of protein pr. 100g).

Next thing is proofing time. 30min is very low. I would say, at least one hour, then scale the dough, and then another half hour. But normally I proof my pizza dough overnight (using just a small amount of yeast)

And finally, shaping the pizza. Do it by hand instead of a rolling pin. I have found that when I shape the pizza using a rolling pin, then it becomes hard because I degas it completely.

When shaping the pizza by hand it is also here that you find out if the dough was a success. If it was, you can stretch out the dough to a nice thin Italian style pizza. If not, the dough will tear apart. It here again the gluten that will keep the pizza dough together. But you can still use the rolling pin if shaping by hand fails.

And finally, if you want to be good at making pizza (or any type of bread) practice, practice, practice. I have made lots (perhaps 50-100) of pizzas before I got really good. Experiment with different types of flour to see if one creates a better dough than another, try different kneading times, practice shaping the pizza by hand, etc. By practice, I have learned to tell if the dough has been kneaded long enough just by feeling the texture of the surface.


This recipe has never to failed to make light, bubbling dough for me:

Makes 4 thin-crust pizzas:

10oz (285g) strong white bread flour

2oz (60g) all-purpose (plain) flour

1tsp (5g) running salt

4fl oz (125ml) milk

6fl oz (175ml) water

2 sachets (15g) dried yeast (about 25g fresh)

1tsp sugar

The liquid should be hand-hot, so if you use cold milk, add hot water. Add the yeast and sugar to the liquid and after a few minutes it should have started to bubble. Meanwhile sift the flours into a large bowl, add the salt and whisk a little to distribute. Salt kills yeast, so never add salt to the liquid.

Add the liquid to the flour, mix with a wooden spoon or hands, and add more flour (if necessary) to enable you to bring it into a coherent ball. Transfer to floured surface, knead for ten (yes ten!) minutes, adding flour as necessary. You should try and keep the dough sticky; it should threaten to stick to the board, in fact.

Return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel, and leave to rise for a couple of hours until the dough has doubled in volume. Divide into four and shape (I find lightly rolling out with a rolling pin does little harm). Leave for 20-30 minutes to 're-rise'. Meanwhile pre-heat oven to absolute maximum. If you have a pizza stone (HIGHLY recommended), put it in.

When ready, slap a pizza onto the hot stone, add toppings ASAP, then return to the oven for 5 minutes until bubbling, golden, and generally delicious!


Here is a great light, crispy Whole Wheat Sourdough Pizza Crust recipe. On the page is also a link to a place to get FREE sourdough starter. The recipe for the crust is pretty foolproof and makes 3 pizza crusts...the best part is that the dough freezes perfectly, so you'll always be just a short defrost from excellent homemade pizza.

  • welcome. I see the link you posted is to an entry on the site you list as your site. Are you affiliated with the site? If so, then you should disclose your affiliation as per our FAQ.
    – justkt
    Jan 12, 2011 at 17:48
  • Thanks...that is my site I linked to and I should have read your FAQ page before posting. I didn't intend it to be self promoting (just informative), but I can see how it could be interpreted as that. I will be more careful about any self promotion in the future...it won't happen again. BTW, I'm really happy I discovered your site...it's incredibly informative.
    – Cookhacker
    Jan 12, 2011 at 17:56
  • 1
    Of course there's FREE sourdough starter floating around in the air wherever you are :)
    – slim
    Jan 12, 2011 at 18:12
  • Hey Slim...It is pretty easy to make your own, but this starter has been around since 1847 and is very hearty. I've had a batch of my own going for about 10 years now and it never fails to produce a great bread. Here is the link to Carl's Sourdough to request a free envelope of their dried 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter (btw, I have no affiliation with this site) with directions on how to revive the starter. You should give it a try!
    – Cookhacker
    Jan 12, 2011 at 18:41

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