One of the most important elements – if not the most important element – of pizza is the dough. But what actually makes a good dough? For people who are not regular pizza dough makers, it’s hard to exactly put your finger on it. It’s perfectly chewy, not too thin or too thick, and has a deliciously crispy crust. It sags slightly under the weight of its toppings but not so much that they all slide off.
So, how do you achieve this indescribably perfect pizza dough? Well it all comes down to kneading. A lot of people think that kneading is just for show or that it’s just a way of combining the ingredients, but the process of kneading is actually essential to achieving the perfect pizza dough.
But what kneading technique is the best and how do you know when your dough is kneaded to perfection? One of the problems a lot of amateur pizza makers run into is not kneading their dough enough and ending up with a pizza base that is as tough as bark. Luckily for you, the chefs at 11 Inch Pizza are experts when it comes to all things pizza-related, and have learnt from years of practice how to know precisely when your dough is ready for the oven.
The Science Behind Kneading Pizza Dough
Before we get into how to knead dough, it’s important to know why kneading dough is important. Basically, through the basic process of kneading you’re changing the molecular structure of the gluten the dough contains. This helps to give the dough strength and structure.
Wheat flour contains gluten, which is made up of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. When the ingredients are first combined together these proteins are arranged and knotted haphazardly and in no particular order. As you knead the dough, however, these proteins begin to line up and form chains of amino acids which creates a matrix within the dough. It’s this matrix that allows the dough to rise which makes the dough soft and chewy instead of hard like cardboard. This is because it traps the gas released by the yeast in the dough.
This process is why it is generally recommended that bread flour be used when making pizza dough, as it has a higher gluten content than regular flour. This allows you to achieve the perfect dough texture.
How to Knead Pizza Dough
Most people already have a basic idea of how to knead dough even if they haven’t done it before; you’ve seen it in a movie or on television and so know that it essentially involves pressing and rolling the dough back and forth with the palm of your hands. Usually the process takes 10 to 12 minutes but, if you’re using a stand mixer with a dough hook instead, will take about 8 to 10.
Here are some of 11 Inch Pizza’s top tips to ensure you knead your dough to perfection:
- Make sure you’re kneading on a well-floured surface. That way you don’t have to worry about your dough sticking to your bench or your hands. Not having enough flour can really slow down the process and might result into an unevenly kneaded dough.
- One of the signs that your dough is ready is that it will be completely smooth after kneading it.
- Your dough will be shaggy and lumpy to begin with, but once you’ve kneaded it for a while it should be smooth and slightly tacky to touch.
- If your dough holds it shape and doesn’t ooze or sag when you hold it up, that’s another good sign that your dough is well kneaded. It signals that the gluten chains have formed, and your dough is strong and tight.
- Another easy way of checking if your dough is kneaded enough is to simply poke it. If the whole where your finger was bounces back quickly it’s a good indicator your dough is ready to go.
- One of the tests bakers swear by is the windowpane test. To do this, break off a small piece of dough, pinch it between your fingers and gently stretch it. If it stretches into a paper-thin film without breaking, your dough is done and it’s ready to be rolled out and put into the oven.
About 11 Inch Pizza’s Dough
If making your own pizza dough is too much of a faff for you, just come visit 11 Inch Pizza where you can guarantee every single pizza dough is hand kneaded to perfection. Just sit back, relax and enjoy your delectable pizza without having to get flour all over your kitchen.