How to Fix It When Pizza Dough Won’t Stretch

When making pizza, it is imperative that the dough stretches into the trademark circular shape. But if your dough won’t stretch, it will be impossible to get there. Most of the time, it’s simply a matter of not letting your pizza dough relax long enough, or it’s too cold.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle, and if there is one thing I love, it’s making pizza. I make all kinds of pizzas and, just like many of you, have run into the unfortunate event of pizza dough that won’t stretch. Luckily, I’ve cracked the code, and I’m here to share how to fix finicky dough.

If you’ve stumbled across this page, then you’re likely getting frustrated with pizza dough that just won’t stretch. Well, take a deep breath and relax. Many simple little things can be fixed to make your dough perfectly elastic.

Who’s ready to talk about fixing pizza dough that won’t stretch?

Why Your Pizza Dough Won’t Stretch and How to Fix It

There are many reasons why your pizza dough won’t stretch. The good news is, they’re all pretty easy fixes, so you shouldn’t have to make an entirely new batch. 

Relax!

Not you, the pizza dough. (Okay, and maybe you, too!) Pizza dough needs to relax for it to become elastic. If you’ve just been working with your dough shaping or kneading, you won’t be able to stretch it. That’s because the gluten network tightens up when it’s being “worked.”

So, the number one question to ask yourself is this: Did you let your pizza dough rest long enough? If you went from kneading right into stretching, the answer is no. Let your pizza dough rest for around 15 to 20 minutes before trying to stretch it again.

It’s Too Cold

Pizza dough is pretty picky about its temperature. It’s not being a diva; it’s all about the gluten network. Just like the gluten tightens up when being worked, it also tightens when it’s too cold. So, don’t think you can pull your dough out from the fridge and start working on it right away.

You need to make sure that the dough has reached room temperature. You can do this by simply leaving the bowl of dough on the counter for up to an hour. If you want to speed up the process, set it in the oven, where it should be a bit of a warmer, constant temperature.

Use Oil

When your hands are dry, you slap on moisturizer or lotion. Well, your pizza dough might be craving some hydration too. The best way to do this is by applying some olive oil to your hands and the cutting board or other type of platform you’re using.

Olive oil will help to “grease” the pizza dough just a pinch, giving it that extra boost of hydration to allow it to stretch. It also won’t stick to the cutting board, which leaves less room for tears and breakage.

Yes, you can use flour to stop stickiness in its path. However, the drawback to flour is that it can change the texture of your pizza. That’s because you’re essentially adding more flour to the dough, which can cause a denser crust.

While we’re on the subject of hydration, I will also note the importance of adding the right amount of water. The water to flour ratio should be perfect. Too much water will cause a mess, while too little water will lead to stickiness and dryness. Be careful with measuring.

Use the Right Flour

There’s a right and a wrong flour for pizza? Oh, no! Okay, so there isn’t technically a “right” or “wrong” flour for pizza. Most people will use what they have on hand, which is likely all-purpose flour.

However, if you find yourself constantly ending up with pizza dough that won’t stretch, it might be time to change your flour option. The best choice for pizza is Italian Tipo 0 flour, otherwise known as “00” flour. 

00 flour comes with around 11% to 13% gluten, the optimal amount for creating a delicious, perfectly-textured pizza crust. Give it a try, and you might find pizza-making to be a much simpler task.

Under or Over-kneading

Kneading is a critical part of the pizza-making process. Unfortunately, plenty of people tend to skip it or rush it. Pizza dough needs to be kneaded for at least 15 to 20 minutes for proper gluten development.

When the pizza dough is not kneaded long enough, the gluten cannot develop the right structure. This affects all aspects of the dough, from not rising properly to breaking and tearing when you try to stretch it.

That said, always knead your pizza dough for long enough. But don’t knead it for too long. While it’s highly unlikely that you over-knead your dough by hand, it’s still possible. Over-kneading causes the gluten network to become so strong that it won’t stretch at all.

FAQs

Most of the time, you just need to let your pizza dough rest or come to room temperature. If you still have some pondering questions about why your pizza dough won’t stretch, keep reading these frequently asked questions.

How do I get my pizza dough to stretch?

release necessary gases for the crust.

How long should pizza dough rest before being stretched?

Pizza dough needs to rest before it is able to stretch and form your delicious dinner. After it’s been worked, the pizza dough should rest for at least 15 minutes before it can stretch. Some pizza doughs are more finicky and might need up to 30 minutes.

How do you fix Overworked dough?

The best thing to do is to stop messing with it and let it rise. Once it’s risen, try to form the pizza dough as quickly as possible with the least amount of working. It’s already been through enough, basically, so keep everything to a minimal.

Why is my dough not forming a ball?

If your dough won’t form into a ball, it’s likely because it’s simply too dry. The best thing to do is to go back to kneading, but add small amounts of water until it forms into a ball. Remember, hydration is important for dough, and the right amount of water is critical for success.

Final Words

Pizza dough that won’t stretch can be a nuisance, but the good news is, it’s almost always an easy fix. Start by letting the pizza dough relax and come to room temperature. If it’s still ornery, slather your hands with olive oil and try again. Next time, try a 00 flour and the right amount of kneading.

Have you ever dealt with pizza dough that wouldn’t stretch? What did you do to fix it? Share in the comment section below so we can try, too.

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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