How to Mix Pizza Dough by Hand – Detailed Answer

Hand-mixing dough…who still does that? What, with all the fancy dough mixers that are available, why in the world would anyone want to go through the process of learning how to make pizza dough by hand, right? Well, as much as it looks like such a chore, there’s still something soothing and homely about doing this the old-fashioned way. Whether you are working on pizza dough or bread dough, it is the same. So let us look at how to mix pizza dough by hand.

how mix pizza dough by hand
Image Credit: webandi, Pixabay.com

Pizza is one food that, though common, everyone likes all the same and is not tired of. So learning how to make it, even from scratch, comes in handy. You never know when you will have to put that skill to use.

Video: How to Expertly Knead Dough

From time immemorial, mixing dough by hand has been the way to go. Trace your way back to when there were no technological advancements like we have them now and you wonder how the people back then coped. But they did and we dare say food must have tasted better for them since almost everything was natural.

Making pizza is one of the ways you can keep them occupied for hours. Besides, the reward of having to eat the end product of their labours will be greater than the labour for them. Of course, you have the option of using already-made pizza dough but don’t you think making homemade pizza dough will give you more room to flavour as you like?

Now, even though we have all the machines we need to make cooking easier, how about going the old-fashioned way once in a while? Ok, let’s pause…you have a houseful of visitors and some of them are about 10 years old. You can only have so many games in mind to keep them busy till they are ready to go.

How to Mix Pizza Dough by Hand – Gather Your Ingredients Together

Mixing pizza dough by hand is not such a big deal, especially if you are making the pizza for a few people. If you are going to be feeding it to many people, using a mixer may be more convenient.

To get the mixture right, you have to know which ingredient goes first and what quantity is just right. You also need to know how many minutes each step will take before you go over to the next one.

What are the ingredients needed to mix pizza dough by hand?

You will need flour (the everyday bread flour is great but an all-purpose type of flour is still good enough), yeast, water, salt, cooking oil (preferably olive oil), sugar, and warm water.

It is usually better to use bread flour because it contains more gluten, which makes for better stretching and a crispier crust. A chewy dough is always a better dough. And bread flour is not hard to get.

If you are going to be cooking the pizza dough over an open fire type of oven, you may want to soft-pedal on the use of oil. This is because it may drip into the fire and cause a spark. This is equally applicable in an indoor oven so you don’t make an unnecessary mess.

mixing pizza dough
Image Credit: Joanna Bourne, Flickr.com

Using the Right Ingredients and Measurements for the Dough

Use the right type of yeast and make sure it is the active dry type. This will determine how the dough will come out and how well your mixture will turn out. If the yeast has been on the shelf for too long, it may not work on the flour.

Like we mentioned earlier, part of getting it right is knowing the right measurement. Different cookbooks will tell you what cup measurements to use but you alone know who the pizza is meant for and how well your hands can mix the dough. If you are a newbie to this, you may want to start small.

There may be a pizza dough recipe you want to try but be careful not to get too enthusiastic unless you already know what you are doing around the kitchen. Creating a fresh pizza dough recipe or trying an already-existing one but totally new to you can be tricky.

Mixing the Ingredients

How do you mix pizza dough ingredients properly?

To mix your pizza dough ingredients properly, take the following steps:

Step 1- When you have all the ingredients together get a big bowl, preferably that which is used for purposes such as this. It has to have some depth so the contents don’t spill over when you are mixing with your hands.

Step 2- Mix the active dry yeast with the olive oil, salt, and some of that warm water. Stir all together till the mixture proofs; this should take about five minutes.

Step 3- When this is done, add a measure of the bread flour or all-purpose flour you have. The measure of all the ingredients you use will depend on the size of the homemade pizza you are gearing to make. This is even though a large pizza is usually 12-13 inches wide. But whatever the size of the pizza, add half of the flour to the bowl with the mixture and use your hands to turn everything together thoroughly.

Step 4- You may notice that the mixture is not as thick as you know pizza dough to be. So add the remainder of the flour, leaving only a little behind for other purposes. Knead the dough using your hands till everything is thoroughly incorporated.

Kneading the Pizza Dough

How do you knead your pizza dough effectively?

To knead your pizza dough effectively, do the following:

Move the dough from the bowl to the work surface where you plan to roll the dough. Make sure it is a lightly floured surface, else the dough will keep sticking to it as you knead. Just a light sprinkle from the leftover flour will do.

Then start the real kneading, sprinkling flour on it from time to time as needed till you have a stretchy and smooth dough. It should not feel sticky and if it is, you got something in the process wrong.

When the dough is done, put it in a bowl with sufficient room for it to rise. This is where the active dry yeast comes into play in full. Rub some of that olive oil lightly on the dough to make it easy to remove when it is good to go and cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or damp towel so it can rise. It should be left without uncovering for about an hour or more, depending on the size. By the end of the time it needs to rise, it must have doubled in size or even more.

Kneading dough, whether it is for pizza or bread, is done basically in the same way. So watch as you are visually presented with how to quickly and expertly knead pizza dough by hand.

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How to Mix Pizza Dough by Hand – Prepping It for Cooking

If you are going to use an oven to bake the pizza or get the dough ready, you may want to use a pizza stone. A pizza stone helps make the crust of the dough really crispy. To get it ready for use, just place the pizza stone on the lower rack of the oven you plan to use before starting to preheat the oven. Remember there is a certain degree that is acceptable for baking pizza in an indoor oven.

But this is not a make or mar situation so if you don’t have one, don’t sweat it. And remember that the pizza dough recipe you choose to use will determine what you put in it. This recipe we have here is your basic dough recipe and can serve as bread dough, too.

If you know what you are doing, the usual prep time for getting a basic pizza dough ready is about 15 minutes, give or take a few minutes. This does not include the rise time for the dough. The pizza dough recipe you choose may take as little as 7 minutes or 10 minutes to prepare.

How to Mix Pizza Dough by Hand – Making It Stretchy

The first thing to do is to make sure the temperature of the risen dough is the same as the room temperature. Since you just made homemade pizza dough, this is easy to achieve. After the dough has risen, you may want to divide it into two or more depending on the size. This is to enable you easily use it as the crust for your pizza. Leaving it as one whole large dough may make it too thick and may not allow it to cook properly.

If, for some reason, the dough is cold even though you made it that same day, warm it to get it to room temperature. Cold pizza dough doesn’t stretch so well because the protein gluten, which gives it its chewy nature, tightens in cold. And this doesn’t allow you to properly shape it to your taste or satisfaction.

Here, instead of using a lightly floured surface, you may just spread some olive oil on the surface. Adding more flour to the dough, no matter how little, may thicken it and make it tougher than you intended. Oil may work better in this instance. Besides, the presence of a little more oil will give the crust a crisp nothing else will, at the end.

What Are The Steps Involved In Making A Pizza Dough Stretchy?

The steps involved in making your pizza dough stretchy are:

Step 1- Flatten it into a round shape before you begin to stretch it even a bit. It will come out as a ball from the large bowl where it sat for about an hour or more.

Step 2- With your fingers, begin to press into the round dough from the middle so that it slowly widens and flattens. The dough must not shrink at all. If it does, it means it is not warm enough and needs to sit idle for a little longer.

Step 3- Cover it for an additional 15 minutes or so before you start working on it again. Do this until it stops shrinking and stays put.

Step 4- With both your hands, pick it up on one end and let it hang down. Start rotating it as if you are turning some wheel and let gravity pull it down, contributing to the stretching.

Step 5- Do this until it is thin and wide but don’t worry if the force of gravity has made it droop, causing holes to appear. Just press them together to cover them up. Make sure any thick edge is pressed out to even everything out. You don’t want some thick and some thin edges.

How Long to Cook Pizza Dough in Oven

It takes about 15 minutes to properly cook a pizza dough in a preheated oven, at a temperature of between 450 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is dependent on the type of oven you are using, though, so you just have to find out what works with it before setting the timer.

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Some people like to cook their dough a little before adding the toppings for the main pizza. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t overcook it or burn it in the process.

Once the dough is ready, just add your desired toppings and place on the pizza stone and allow to bake. From ten minutes, the pizza should be done but it shouldn’t exceed the fifteenth minute. Normally though, once your homemade pizza dough crust turns brown and the cheese becomes golden in colour, you know everything else is cooked.

How to Mix Pizza Dough by Hand – Final Part

It is understandable if you didn’t know all the work and processes involved, and would rather go with a mixer. But mixing dough by hand gives it a homey feel. And when friends or family members are eating the pizza, you can proudly say ‘My hands made that.’

How To Make Pizza Dough By Hand — Related Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Dough Not Stretchy?

The dough is not stretchy because it was overworked. Overworking the dough makes it tight and tough as the gluten content has been destroyed, which makes it not to stretch. 

To remedy this, add one or more tablespoons of water to the flour (depending on its quantity) until the flour sticks together and becomes stretchy. 

Additionally, the dough is not stretchy because it has not had enough time to proof (rise). To remedy this, you should let the dough rest on your work surface; cover it in flour for 10-15 minutes.

Can I Use Peanut Oil In Place Of Olive Oil?

You can use peanut oil as a substitute for olive oil; they are very much similar. Peanut oil is healthy because it has high unsaturated fat content. It is also very good for baked products as it provides a tender mouth feel and flavor to the finished dough. 

Furthermore, it helps to improve the volume of the dough and prevents gum line formation. It also helps to expand the dough. Most people prefer peanut oil because it gives a crispy crust to the dough.

Can Substitute Yeast For Baking Powder?

You can substitute yeast for baking powder. Baking powder acts as a leavening agent in baking. In place of yeast, use an equal amount of baking powder. However, the rising effect of baking powder and yeast is not the same. 

Using baking powder in making dough also implies that the dough will no longer be left to rise. The baking powder rises when placed in heat. You should get the dough into the oven immediately where it will bake and rise to its supposed volume. Baking powder also has a positive effect on the browning and flavor of the finished dough.

How Do I Fix Salty Dough?

To fix a salty dough, allow it to proof for a longer period of time. Alternatively, add more flour and some major ingredients except salt. Aside from all this, you should add a splash of vinegar. Using a salty dough will make it soggy in the end. Also, salty dough kills the yeast. 

Using salt in the right proportion helps to improve the flavor and tightens the gluten structure of the dough. It also adds strength to the dough. Salt, when used in the right proportion, regulates the yeast rising activity. However, this is a slow process.

Can I Use Hot Water To Mix The Yeast?

You cannot use hot water to mix the yeast because it will kill the yeast. And when the yeast is gone, the dough will not rise. It can also affect the flavor of the finished bread by making it rise more than it should. 

Warm water should be used in dissolving the yeast and mixing ingredients for baking. Warm water reactivates the yeast which in turn, starts to increase. The mixed active yeast when added to the mixed flour, makes it rise.

Can I Use Instant Yeast To Make My Dough?

You can use instant yeast to make your dough. You just have to be careful not to allow the dough to rise more than necessary as there will be consequences on the finished dough. Also note that while using instant dry yeast, it does not need proofing. It can also be added straight into the mixing bowl instead of mixing it with warm water. You can still allow it to rise, although it is not needed. Instant yeast rises very fast unlike active dry yeast.

Can I Over- Proof My Dough?

You can overproof the dough but this is not good. To know if the dough is over-proofed, poke it with your finger. If it does not spring back as it should have, then the dough has been over-proofed. To remedy this, you should press down the dough in order to remove the excess gas in it. After that, reshape the dough and reproof it. It should rise over the rim of the pan. Over-proofing can compromise the flavor and structure of the finished baked dough. 

Why Is My Dough Tough?

Your dough is tough because it was over-kneaded. It makes the dough feel thick and stiff. It also makes it hard to press down and flatten too. Baking with the over-kneaded dough will not give the desired result in the end. To remedy this situation, allow the dough to sit and rest untouched for double the time it should have stayed. This will enable it to cool and rise, which will soften the gluten in the dough. Doing this will give the dough the desired texture.

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