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When I make Neapolitan pizza dough, the dough is so soft and supple that I can hardly work it into a round shape before it is stretched far too large and overly thin in areas.

After I mix the dough(ingredients below), I let it sit on the counter for 24 hours, then refrigerated for another 48 hours. Finally, I pull the dough out of the refrigerator and let it warm for 45 minutes on the counter before using it.

At this point, the dough is so soft I only have mere seconds to form it over my knuckles before it droops into an oblong football shape. I oftentimes only work it in my hands for 2-3 seconds than transfer it to my work surface for a bit of stretching by pinch/pull. I still am not getting a round shape because it is so soft. What can I do to make the dough more workable but still achieve Neapolitan results?

Dough Recipe:

  • 500g Antimo Caputo 00 Flour
  • 383g Water
  • 16g Sea Salt
  • 1g Active Dry Yeast
  • 900g Total / 76.6% hydration

enter image description here

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    Curious, have you tried shaping it without letting it sit out for 45 minutes? I don't know if it would make a difference but I figured it was worth asking. – Catija Feb 12 '16 at 3:17
  • @Catija No I've always removed the dough balls to allow them to warm to 60°F-65°F. I'm following The Pizza Bible which has a commandment Thou Shalt Not Put Cold Dough In A Hot Oven. – dpollitt Feb 12 '16 at 3:25
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    Sure... you don't want to put it in the oven... but could you shape it and then let it warm up? – Catija Feb 12 '16 at 3:26
  • @Catija I could try that, although the instructions definitely do not suggest that method. I am also concerned about the dough sticking to the peel if it's sitting out that long formed. I typically form it, place on peel, and top within seconds to ensure it doesn't have time to stick to the peel. – dpollitt Feb 12 '16 at 3:28
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It actually sounds like your dough is good, your description is just what I'd look for in a dough. It may be your technique which is the trouble. It's takes practice to hand stretch dough right, you could try using a rolling pin instead.

You should be able to stretch your dough very thin and still have it hold together. If your dough is breaking easily then you may not have enough gluten development. If you still want stiffer dough then you could go for a higher gluten content, or go for a lower hydration level, say 70%.

EDIT: One thing I've found with pizza dough is that if you try to stretch it too far too quickly it will be uneven and prone to breaking. I've found that if you stretch it part of the way then leave it a few minutes it will relax a bit and be easier to work with.

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    Agreed on the technique ... you don't start off by stretching the dough by pulling ... you kinda push it out into a disk first. See youtube.com/watch?v=HEVCrqbfRJ4 ... starting at 0:54 – Joe Feb 12 '16 at 17:58
  • Using a rolling pin will not be a good idea, as you will flatten the dough edge to edge...not what you want in a Neapolitan pizza. You want the edge to be thicker. Better to shape with your hands. It is a technique that takes some practice. – moscafj Nov 21 '18 at 19:25
  • I absolutely agree hand shaping is the way to go, if you have the time and patience for it. If not then flattening it out with a rolling pin and then finishing by hand gets you most of the way. – GdD Nov 21 '18 at 21:05

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