When baking pizza, one of the most frustrating things is when the crust gets close to done and then it just seems to stop bubbling or setting up. You can try rolling it out more, adding water or steam, and/or poking it with a knife but nothing really works and you have to give up because it will never set up!
The reason this happens is because your dough has run out of gluten-the very protein structure that gives bread its shape and chewiness. Gluten is what keeps the yeast alive as it grows and spurs the fermentation process, so without it, there’s no action for it to occur in.
When baking pastries like cookies or pretzels, the glucose in the sugar helps feed the growth of the yeast, but with pizza, we’re talking about much less liquid than say, making baguettes or cinnamon rolls. That means it may be time to start buying a new batch of dough!
Luckily, we have some tricks here for you to try! These tips work at any stage of the bake cycle and are tried and true methods used by professional bakers everywhere.
Add oil to the flour
In addition to adding water to your dough, you must also have some oil to create an adequate number of bubbles in the crust. When baking pizza with a crispy edge, there is an easy way to ensure this happens!
When mixing the dough, we usually add half of the olive or vegetable oil into the mixture. This helps create an integral part of the finished product, which makes sense since it’s used to bake the top layer of the pie!
Once the dough is mixed together, you will need to use a knife to cut down the sides of the dough to make room for rising. Then, roll the dough around the rolling pin until it is flat and thin, like a sheet of plastic wrap.
Now, simply spread the remaining oil onto the surface of the dough, and press the grill pan or cookie sheet into the dough. The heat will bring the dough to the right temperature and help develop the crispier shell.
Add enough salt to the water-flour mixture until it tastes slightly salty
In addition to adding extra flavor, this also helps create an elastic crust that will hold its shape when baked. If you like thinner pizzas or have diet constraints, do not worry! You can still enjoy crispy pizza crusts if you know how to get dough to taste and bake well.
This article already mentioned adding salt to the mixing water-lubricant ratio, but we are going into more detail about what kind of salt and why.
When baking with yeast, there is an enzyme in the yeast that reacts with the glucose in the breading surface and produces CO2 gas. This reaction causes your dough to expand as it rises.
However, unless you give the dough adequate time to rise, the gases cannot be released and the dough will prove hard and heavy. Yeast loves both glucose and salt, so having excess amounts of either would prevent it from functioning properly.
Too much salt could actually hinder the growth of the yeast, and some strains require only sugar for activity.
Make a well in the flour mixture and add the yeast mixture
In addition to using warm water, another way to make your dough come together is to use a process called mixing! When you mix a compound such as a bread or pizza dough, you create an integral part of the dough called a “lump” or a “starch gel matrix.”
This happens when globs of liquid and dry ingredients combine and thicken. The molecules of the two components align with each other and form strong bonds which keep the particles connected.
When baking, this consistency is very important because it determines how brown or white the finished product will be! If the dough is too fluid, then it may not set properly and burn or overbake. If it is too hard, it will likely taste raw and/or crumble.
Mix until a smooth batter forms
In addition to having a hot oven, one of the biggest reasons people get stuck with thin crust pizza is because they run out of crumbs! If you are running low on toppings or need some extra cushion for your stomach, there are several recipes that require very little-if any-crumb powder in the dough.
You can mix your dough without crumbs, but if you do not bake it long enough, the bread will be tough and/or hard. To ensure soft, warm bread that bobs up slightly when pressed, cook the pizza at a higher temperature for the same amount of time. This way, the dough will have enough time to toast properly before being broiled or baked.
If you like thinner pizzas, use a lower percentage of wheat flour so that it does not take as much time to melt down.
Let sit for 5 minutes
After rolling your dough into balls or rounds, you will need to let it rest or rise slightly before baking. This can be done at home!
Most recipes call for rising the dough for 1-2 hours depending on the size of the crust piece. You can do this in a food processor or mixer attached to a work surface. Or you can use a heavy pot with a lid that works well as an airlock (this helps keep moisture out).
By having this resting time, the yeast has enough time to feed on the glucose molecules in the wheat flour and grow. When they are hungry, they create gas which creates an additional layer of flavor and texture.
The trick is finding a length of time that the dough rests without overbaking. That is why most recipes suggest starting with the initial rise and then timing how long the oven takes to bake through.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes
When baking pizza, one of the most important parts is having crispy crust! If you make your dough too soft, then it will not set properly when baked which could result in very warm or even limp pizzas. However, if the dough is over-kneaded, the yeast can die before setting the dough into position, resulting in an uncooked dough that smells like bread. This will clearly not taste good!
To ensure your pizza has crunchy, crisp edges, the dough must be dry and this needs to finished baking. The best way to do this is to preheat the oven as high as possible (500°–550°) and let the dough cook there while mixing it periodically. This way, the dough dries and finishes cooking all at once!
Another tip is to use a convection or regular oven mode. Convection modes work by circulating hot air throughout the chamber, creating more efficient heat. For thin crusts, either option is fine, but thicker ones require hotter temperatures to bake through effectively.
Let sit for 5 more minutes
After mixing your dough, you need to let it rest or rise! This can be done in the refrigerator, at room temperature, or in a warm place. When letting it rise, make sure that it has proper air exposure.
In the case of our pizza recipe here, we left our dough in a warm area of the kitchen until it doubled in size. That gave us enough time to prepare the next step-topping the pie!
To ensure an excellent crust and cook time, must bake the pie quickly! At least one hour should be allotted per side to achieve this. To determine if the bottom is browned enough, cut into a small piece to check.
Roll out the dough into a circle
The next step in getting your pizza crust ready is rolling out the dough. You will need a piece of bread or rice paper that you can cut into thin circles, like using a cookie cutter.
Press the dough into the pan shape as best you are able- just make sure it does not stick! Once done, let the dough sit for at least one minute before moving onto the next stage.
The second part of this process is creating an air pocket within the dough. Use a spoon or fork to do this by pressing down on the top of the dough and then lifting up slightly. As you lift the handle, keep pushing the edge of the dough away from yourself to create an opening. Repeat until you have small holes all over the dough.
Now roll the dough around the holes so that the bubbles get trapped inside the dough. Continue doing this until the whole dough has been coated in air.