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I am a relatively experienced amateur when it comes to making pizza, especially pizza doughs. I recently went to Italy and enjoyed some calzones with super-thin crusts.

My standard recipe for a pizza crust is essentially the following:

  • 1.5 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
  • 0.5 cups semolina flour
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. quick-rise yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive (or cooking) oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • More water or flour to achieve a mostly-elastic (but slightly sticky) dough

I typically add some of the following seasonings for fun and flavor: - 1-2 tsp. minced garlic - 1-2 tsp. onion powder - 1-3 tsp. oregano - 1 tsp red pepper flakes

The above recipe works great for crusts thicker than a few millimeters. When I roll it out thinner, however, it isn't strong enough and tears when forming a calzone.

How can I modify that recipe to get a crust that's strong enough for making a calzone? I expect substituting bread flour for the whole wheat flour would help, as well as not adding extra ingredients. Perhaps I could add a few teaspoons of gluten?

Thoughts? Thanks in advance!

  • What you are asking is a function of kneading. Kneading the dough for some time once it's risen will strengthen the crust. Also, it will enable you to stretch it thin without tearing. – Jason P Sallinger Nov 2 '17 at 18:28
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Don't use whole wheat flour if you want a strong or thin crust.

The shards of bran in the whole wheat flour will cut the strands of gluten, weakening the crust, which prevents it from being stretched very thin.

You can verify for yourself by performing the windowpane test.

  • First: awesome suggestion about the windowpane test! That really gave me more material to search through. Thanks! Second: you're absolutely right about the shards of bran weakening the gluten structure. Thanks again! – jvriesem Mar 3 '15 at 18:11
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Increase the amount of Semolina flour to strengthen the dough. I use 3/4 semolina and 1/4 cup Whole Wheat and 2 and 1/2 cup White flour. Too much hydration will add to the ripping and a tight gluten bond will resist stretching and want to spring back.

To get a thin stretchy dough that is very relaxed I added a process the works well to provide a slight rise in the dough, with dense and very small millimeter size air pockets.

  1. 1&1/2 cups water to 4 cups flour mix. (Will stick and flow between fingers when held but not so much when quickly transfered to bowl. Bowl contain oil and salt on the outside.

  2. Eight hour cold rise in fridge and slide on counter (1st collapsed)

  3. (2nd short rise) Rest at room temp 15 min before kneading oil from the outside into the dough (2nd knead)

  4. Form 8 small balls while coating with semolina flour to keep from sticking. Gently roll or pat dough balls into small disks. Usually after kneading the gluten will be tight and resist stretching.

  5. Place each dough disk in a separate baggy and let rest in fridge for 30 to 60 min. (3rd rise)

  6. Remove from fridge and let rest on counter for 20 min. Be gentle to no breakdown dough as it continues to proof.

  7. Remove from baggy and stretches very easy and thin. Add ingredients to 1/2 side. Pull the crust over. The thinner you stretch the thinner the crust.

  8. Bake at 460F.

  9. When removed will have a high density crust with very small air pockets.

When I first mix my pizza dough, I generally add 1 cup of water to 2 cups flour to form a pancake consistency at a high speed rotation to develop the gluten from the protein in the flour, I add the flour slowly and mix with a diamond shaped beater bar that throws the dough to the side of the bowl at high speeds. The flour is added until just the point where the dough collects on the beater bar and is moist enough to transfer quickly to a 1/2 gallon jar with 2 tbs oil coated along it's sides. The oil is not kneaded into the dough until an 8 hr cold rise. Then the dough is separated into balls and patted down into a disc. Then rested in the fridge for 30 - 60 min where the dough becomes very elastic. I allow the gluten to form its network without the oil first and then allow the oil to contribute to the elasticity in the last part where a shaped disk is easily transferred into a pizza or calzone.

  • Nicely organized, sounds like you know the bake shop, nice to see new comers that know their stuff. My picture is of a laminated dough, three turns, 2 days cold rise. You can see the difference in volume if you look at the one behind it in the background. Oh yea you will have to click on my name to see the photo. – Chef_Code Apr 9 '15 at 18:24

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