How to Stretch Pizza Dough

It is the first obstacle on our pizza making journey that we all have to cross. It does require some skill, and it may see difficult, but fear not, with the right advice and a few trial dough balls, you'll soon be stretching dough like a pro! Let's get started!

If there’s one topic that is common to most emails we get, it is this one – How to stretch the pizza dough? Before we get busy stretching, let’s take a moment to understand the dough itself. Our pizza dough is made with a lot of care and passion but also precision, ensuring the perfect balance of elasticity and structure. This balance is what allows the dough to stretch effortlessly while retaining its shape during baking.

Our dough recipe has been fine-tuned over years of experimentation and testing, resulting in a dough that is easy to work with and yields consistently delicious results. Whether you’re using our Classic Pizza Dough, Neapolitan Pizza Dough, or New York Style pizza dough, you can trust that each batch is carefully crafted to meet our high standards.

Tip: If you’re a complete novice to baking, start with our Classic Pizza Dough, it has a lower water content and therefore is more pliable, less sticky and easier to work with.

What to Expect?

First thing, do not expect your pizzas to look like the ones you see on Instagram. They definitely will in time, but not until you have a few baked pizzas under your belt. Don’t aim for a very thin crust, or for a very regular round shape, just don’t worry about any of those things.

Second, work with the dough! Don’t fight it or try to work it into submission. Just treat it gently, giving it time to relax. If you push it, the gluten will activate and resist you, the dough will start to contract. If you feel the dough is not stretching enough, just leave it, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it sit on the bench for 5-10 minutes. When you come back, it will be relaxed and ready to work with you.

Make Sure That The Dough is Ready

As we covered it in our article about defrosting the pizza dough, make sure the dough has thawed completely, is at room temperature and well rested before you start. You should have all the things you’ll need at hand:

  • Dough balls, nicely covered and rested;
  • A clean workspace;
  • Plenty of dusting flour, semolina or just regular;
  • All your toppings;
  • Pizza peel.

How to Stretch the Dough

We prepared a video that will hopefully be of great help to you. We simplified the method to include only the most necessary steps, and made it as straightforward as possible. Step-by-step instructions are below the video.

Step 1. Prepare the Dough and Surface

As mentioned before, make sure the dough is soft and ready to be shaped into a pizza. Take about 2-3 fistfulls of semolina (or dusting flour of choice) and place them on the center of your work surface. The flour is crucial in preventing stickiness.

Step 2: Initial Shaping

Place your dough ball on top of the flour in a way that the bottom of your dough ball, the part that it was sitting on, now becomes the top. Cover it with more dusting flour, just feel free to exaggerate, you will remove any excess flour it in the stretching part. Shape the dough into a circle, if needed.

Begin by gently pressing down on the dough with the tips of your fingers, focusing on the flat part next to the first knuckle. This allows you to distribute pressure evenly, creating a thin, evenly stretched crust, and avoid tearing the dough.

Keeping your fingers close together, make small steps along the length of the dough, from top to bottom, avoiding the very edge. Leaving a couple of centimeters untouched will form the raised edge during baking. Rotate the dough disc, and repeat – keep doing this until all sides are equally thick and the dough is stretched to about the size of your hand, or more, depending on the size of your dough ball.

Step 3: Stretching the Dough

Here comes the slightly tricky part. Place your hand on one half of that disc of dough, palm down, and fold the rest over it. Now lift the dough from your work surface, shake of the excess flour, and remove all the flour from the work surface with your other hand.

Next, you want to place the dough on the back of your hands, crating a sort of dome with your hands for the dough to rest on. Now just gently spread your hands apart while rotating the dough. Use gravity as your friend. Just do a couple of gentle stretches and rotations and you should be done. Keep an eye the thickness of the dough, being careful not to stretch it too thin in the middle.

If you find this challenging, keep the dough partly on the work surface and partly on your hands, using the work surface as a sort of safety net so your dough doesn’t stretch too much. Either way, be patient, don’t push the dough. If it becomes resistant, just give it a bit of time to relax.

As we’re reading this, we understand this sound more difficult than it is. With just a little bit of practice your will develop and understanding of the dough and stretching it perfectly will come naturally.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

Place the now stretched dough back on the work surface. Look for thin bubbles in the edge and pop them – these will puff up and char in your oven. When you’re happy with the shape and thickness, you may start preparing the pizza. If you don’t have a peel, transfer the dough to a piece of baking paper before you start adding the toppings.

For the next steps, please follow our baking guides:
How to Bake Pizza in a Regular Kitchen Oven
How to Bake Pizzas in Your Pizza Oven

People Also Ask

Can I use a different type of flour for dusting the dough, or does it have to be semolina?

Semolina is the go-to solution, but you can also use any flour that you have at hand. Semolina, or semola, will help absorb additional humidity of the dough, but it will also offer some of its texture to the baked product – some bakers prefer to use regular flour for the same reason, to avoid changing the texture. In the end, it’s all about personal preference.

Why won’t my pizza dough spread out?

It can be any number of reasons, but here we will assume that you are using True Pizza’s dough – that eliminates issues with kneading, propper fermentation and maturation of the dough, because we make sure all those are done to perfection.

If your dough is resisting shaping, it is either too cold or not rested enough to be worked. Make sure it’s at room temperature (at least 18°C), and that is well rested.

If this happens during shaping, you have probably worked it a bit too much and the gluten network is now a bit tense. Just give the dough a bit of time to rest – make sure to keep it covered so it doesn’t dry out.

What if i tear a hole in the dough?

You stretched the dough a bit too thin, or a finger got in its way and a tear happened. Do not worry!

Just close the hole, pulling the sides together and over. If it doesn’t stick, just use a tiny bit of water to glue the sides together. A bit of flour on the bottom, a good push of the palm of your hand, and you’re good to go.

If it’s beyond repair, use the dough to make a calzone (with the hole on the top part), or just make a lovely loaf of bread or a focaccia with the dough.

Is it better to roll or stretch pizza dough?

It is definitely better to stretch the pizza dough, in this way your dough will keep its air pockets and it will spring nicely in the oven.

If you don’t care about that, or you want to make a very thin pizza, tavern style, feel free to use a rolling pin. We would advise that you sill follow the first two steps of this tutorial.

If you are rolling the dough, it might contract. Again, just give it a bit of time to recover and relax.

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