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Perfecting Pizza Crust?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I haven't had enough experience with yeasted doughs to ever really "get" them, but I've been reading through the forums here on pizza crust techniques, and have been delighted to find some new things I might try. Right now, my problem is that my pizza crusts always come out reasonable on the bottom, but the exposed crust at the edge ends up hard as a rock within about 10 minutes, and the flavor is abominable.

Here are some things I may have done wrong, according to the fora:

(1) Although I originally kneaded and kneaded for about 20 minutes, the dough was still tearing apart, rather than stretching apart into a nice "window" effect when I finally gave up and let it rise for the first time.
(2) I baked it at something like 400 degrees, rather than what most professionals on this forum have noted: closer to 700-800 degrees.
(3) I live in Moscow, and have bought the crappiest flour, although I wouldn't know locally available flours that would be any better.

Here was the recipe and technique that I've been using:

3.5c flour
1c warm water
2T yeast
2T honey
1/4c olive oil
1/2 t salt

(1) Mix water, honey, yeast: leave 10 minutes til bubbly (check)
(2) Mix dry, then wet. Then knead until elastic. (20 minutes later, I
gave up: originally I'd been getting a wet crust on my palms and so slowly added more flour, but the dough just seemed to get tougher and less manageable every time I added, so I gave up and let it rise.)
(3)Let rise for 45 minutes til doubled in size. (Although I oiled the pan and the dough, I didn't cover it with a towel as some have suggested, and there was a slight crust over the dough)
(4) Punch down and knead again, then let rise 1.5 hours. (After rising, the dough was indeed much more manageable, but not as soft and elastic as I would have liked).
(5) Bake for 15 minutes at 375. (When the pizza came out, it /looked/ nice at least)

So, have I identified everything I've done wrong? If I use better flour, knead longer, bake hotter, and perhaps do the overnight pizza dough in the fridge technique, am I likely to end up with an enjoyable crust? Am I missing something else?

post #2 of 6
Use less quantity of yeast.

Another thread here:

post #3 of 6
Hi morrowdoug,

I waited to answer your post because I am not a baker and wanted to see what other members would answer before I did.

My recipe is similar to yours.
I believe the flour you are using does not have enough gluten in it. You should try to obtain hard wheat flour or bread flour. Another possibility would be to add gluten to plain all purpose flour. Gluten is found in health food stores. Add 1 tbsp (15ml) per cup of flour.
If you use a stronger gluten flour, you should let the flour hydrate before kneading: Add the wet to the dry. Work the dough until it becomes sticky. Let the dough rest 15 min before kneading (no covering necessary)
You only need to knead 10 min.
You will probably need to adjust the water to 1 1/2 cups for 4 cups high gluten flour.

Oil in bread prevents good crust structure, I would ease on the oil. For 4 cups of flour I use 3 Tbsp (45ml) of olive oil.

the first rise is longer then the second so let the dough rise 1 1/2 first. Punch down, separate in 2, knead lightly (50 strokes) then let it rise 30 min.
But I actually rise 1 1/2 hours, punch down separate in 2, knead lightly (50 strokes) then roll out the pizza wheel, garnish and bake. (also possible is to refrigerate the dough in a plastic bag after the first rise and punch down, this is good for overnight batches)

A pizza stone (baking stone) will give you better results for the baking part. Crank up the temp as high as possible (500F).

Good luck!
Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #4 of 6
sounds like you may be over kneading your dough.
i use part "00 flour"
use a pizza stone thats been preheated for a half hour at least.
i find my oven being at 475* is a good temp.
post #5 of 6

I'm no expert by any means, but I make almost all my bread now days.   I've had the best luck with little or no kneading and just allowing the rising process to develop the gluten.  Russian wheat should be relatively high gluten (as is the common "all purpose" USA white flour.   Softer wheat is grown further south than my latitude.   And of course if you are using USA wheat (our country sells a lot of it to Russia, I have no idea if it is sold or used somehow or what)   is should be relatively high in gluten as is common here.  (We get hard durum wheat from Canada, for the most part.  I like it for certain applications, but it makes a pretty tough bread, and I prefer All purpose for everyday bread, rolls, etc.)


So I say, less yeast, long rising times with your own flour should be the ticket.  My bread doughs are pretty wet when I mix them and they stand for 12 to 24 hours before being shaped to rise again and then bake.  They are still sticky when turned out of the bowl to rest a little (10 min), but the gluten is developed enough that a little flour is all that is required for shaping.



post #6 of 6

Don't sweat the gluten!  You really don't need a whole lot of gluten for pizza crust.  That's more of a consideration in loaves of bread.


The oil is fine.  You don't need the honey, unless you like the taste of it.  A teaspoon of yeast is more than enough for your quantity of flour -- yeast makes more of itself, given a chance.  Look for unbleached flour if possible.  There must be a health or organic food store in Moscow somewhere.


Indygal is good on technique.  Try mixing ingredients to a sort of porridgelike consistency (that is, a little wetter than you could work with your hands) and then letting it stay in the bowl, covered, for a few hours, until risen and bubbly.  Tip/scrape it out to a floured surface and gently work it a little more: it should be springy and light.  As you recognize, in the first batch you worked the dough way too hard, and introduced way too much flour.  


Flour absorbs water a bit slowly.  So any dough will get a little less liquid if you let it sit and by the same token a dough mixed quickly to the "right" consistency can become unmanageable after it sits a little while.



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