Why My Pizza Dough Keeps Shrinking?

Have you ever eagerly prepared to craft the perfect homemade pizza, only to find yourself perplexed when your meticulously rolled-out pizza dough mysteriously starts to shrink back, defying your culinary aspirations?

If you find your pizza dough keeps shrinking, it’s likely because it needs some time to relax. Allow your pizza dough to rest on the counter.

A bit of shrinking during stretching is normal, but if it’s snapping back too quickly or proving tough to stretch, your dough is probably too tight. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to loosen up.

If you’ve been left wondering why your pizza dough keeps shrinking, you’re not alone. There could be a variety of reasons for this, such as the wrong temperature, excessive kneading, or an insufficient supply of flour.

A pizza dough that is too wet may also cause this issue, or if you do not allow the dough to rest before cooking, it could also lead to it. 

If you are trying to roll or stretch pizza dough that keeps shrinking back, it can be extremely frustrating. You still have a chance to make a great thin-crust pizza if you keep trying to get that base thin.

It is usually the gluten network in the dough that causes pizza dough to shrink. The following methods can be used to fix this:

  • During proofing, gluten relaxes, so the dough needs to be proofed longer.
  • The gluten in dough is tighter when it is cold, so bring it to room temperature before using.
  • You should reduce your flour’s protein content to prevent gluten formation.
  • You can gain more control by stretching with your hand.
  • Make sure you weigh your ingredients accurately.

How Gluten Works

A grain of wheat is ground up into a powder called wheat flour. The chemical reactions still occur in powder form despite the fact that the grain would normally germinate when hydrated.

The stretchy, elastic gluten network is formed when two wheat proteins, glutenin and gliadin, come into contact with water.

As a result of this network, CO2 gas from the fermentation process can be trapped, and the dough will rise during proofing and baking.

It’s like chewing bubble gum. During chewing, inactive hard gum becomes a stretchy mass that can be inflated into a bubble.

How Do I Stop My Pizza Dough From Shrinking?

In case you’re halfway through opening your pizza base and need a fix, here’s what you can do:

To make the dough airtight, flatten it as much as possible and cover it with an overturned mixing bowl.

To let it rest, leave it for 10 minutes. By allowing the gluten to relax, and keeping it in the bowl, it won’t dry out. If necessary, repeat the process.

Despite its limited effectiveness, this can get the job done in a hurry if no other preventative measures are available.

It is okay to move the dough to a warmer part of your house if your kitchen is cold.

By combining extra time to relax and the warmth from the sun, the gluten will be able to relax and the bowl will help to retain moisture.

If you follow these steps, you can prevent shrinkage from happening in the future with your pizza dough.

1. Make Sure You Weigh Out Your Ingredients Accurately

There is a lot of science involved in baking, and if you don’t get the right amount of flour, salt, yeast, and water, your dough will not ferment properly.

You won’t be able to stretch your dough if you do this, since it won’t develop and relax properly.

Rather than using cups to measure volume, you should weigh out your ingredients to ensure your dough is in the right amounts.

In this case, flour can take on different volumes if it has been compressed in a different way – a cup of flour taken by me might have been compressed more than one taken by you.

You can ensure consistency when mixing dough by using weight. Invest in a scale and you will never regret it.

2. Learn Proper Stretching Technique

It is more efficient to stretch out by hand as you are in control of the process and will produce a better pizza compared to using a pin since it tends to just push out all of the gas and lead to a dense crust.

You can stretch the dough slowly and firmly so that it holds its new position if you pull and hold it for a short period of time. In general, rolling tends to spring back to its original position, and there is little you can do about it.

You can also learn it by hand, which is fun. Video tutorials can be found online to show you how to perform the proper techniques.

The inner section of the dough should be leveled by pinching it with your fingertips.

Make an indentation around the inside of the dough ball for the crust and make an indentation around the outer edge too.

Rotate the pizza by pulling the dough in opposite directions while using flat hands facing upwards.

You can stretch the dough over clenched fists and let gravity finish any thicker portions for a nice even surface. Keep in mind not to overwork the dough because it will create more gluten fibers and make the dough chewy.

After handling it, if it feels very tight, then give it a 15-minute rest before continuing. Keep your dough covered from the air for a short period of time otherwise it will harden.

3. Don’t Use Too High Protein Flour

A variety of wheat flours are available with different protein percentages. The higher the protein content, the greater the gluten content.

Flour with more gluten has a stronger structure and chew, and it is sometimes called pizza flour or strong bread flour. Cakes and pastries are made with lower gluten content.

Having more gluten increases the network and elasticity of the gluten. The dough will definitely have more spring back, so you shouldn’t use it for a quick dough since it needs to rest.

The best flour to use for short proofing times is one that contains less gluten – try an all-purpose bread flour that has around 12-13% protein.

It is possible to ferment a higher gluten flour for a long time without it collapsing. A long fermentation and a chewy crust can be achieved with these types of flours. Perfect for New York-style pizzas.

4. You Shouldn’t Stretch Dough That Is Too Cold

The other thing that could be causing you problems is working with cold dough, since cold dough snaps back more than warm dough. Before stretching your dough, bring it to room temperature.

Your room temperature obviously plays a role here as well – at least an hour is good, but up to two hours is fine as well.

It’s faster to take out each dough ball individually after it’s been in the refrigerator and proofed than to heat up one big ball, and you can save the rest for another time.

5. The Dough Must Be Proofed For A Longer Period

When dough is kneaded, flour and water build up a stretchy network called gluten. As the dough is proofed, you allow the yeast to perform its work.

But at the same time you allow the gluten network to relax. Resting gluten allows it to become supple and workable over time as it degrades over time.

It is not uncommon for pizza recipes online to be convenience-oriented and provide a recipe for mixing and proofing the dough in just a few hours. In most cases, there will be a lot of yeast and sugar in the dough to get it going.

Since these recipes don’t allow the dough to rest long enough, they won’t produce the best results.

Furthermore, your dough will remain very tight and difficult to handle. If you do not take the time to create a high-quality pizza, it will have a disappointing flavor and texture.

Pizza lovers need to try slow fermentation if they are serious about their craft. Because the gluten needs a longer rest period than the yeast requires, it probably shrinks back when stretched or rolled.

A cold, slow-proofing process is better than letting your dough sit at room temperature for extra few hours. The dough will become relaxed and easy to handle once it has been refrigerated overnight (or at least 24 hours).

In order to prevent over proofing, the dough should be cooled down to slow yeast fermentation, so the gluten has time to rest. Make sure you let it warm up an hour or two before stretching it.

In addition, the longer fermentation will greatly improve the flavor and texture of the product. By using this method, you can use less yeast, resulting in a crust without an overly yeasty-bready taste.

6. Room Temperature Matters

If you’re making pizza dough, you want to make sure it contains the right ingredients.

In order to get the proper crust consistency, many pizza dough types are high in protein and high in gluten, but this can lead to all sorts of problems if not handled properly.

To work with high-gluten flour, you’ll want to choose one with a lower protein content, preferably one between 11.5% and 12.8%, and a higher gluten content.

Despite the low protein content and high gluten, the dough will still have the right texture, but it will not “memorize” its original shape due to the lack of protein.

As a result, you will be able to mold the pizza into what you want it to be, as the dough will snap back into place less frequently.

When working with dough at room temperature, you need to wait for it to be warm, since cold rooms can cause proteins to break down.

Waiting until the dough is room temperature is worth the wait, no matter how impatient you are. You can then create a pizza without worrying about the more frustrating aspects of it.

Bonus Tip:

When the dough reaches room temperature, add a small amount of olive oil to the area you will be working with.

The total amount you’ll need for this will be about two or three tablespoons, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Additionally, olive oil can help to encourage a crispier crust because the gluten inflates the pizza and makes it stick to the cutting board.

Proper Dough Hydration To Prevent Shrinkage

In order to prevent shrinkage of pizza dough, proper dough hydration is essential. If you use too little hydration, you will end up with tough and dry crusts, which will shrink when you try to roll out or stretch the pizza crust.

Different types of flour, other ingredients and ambient temperature influence the amount of hydration needed, such as Pizza Flour 00 or Semola di Grano Duro.

When gluten network is created with high-protein flour and optimal water content, it can resist shrinking.

When it is correctly rolled out and not overhandled or pressed down, it will not retract back toward its original shape.

When making batches (or individual) pizzas, use a scale instead of measuring cups to ensure your ingredients are properly hydrated.

Benefits Of Preheated Pizza Stones Or Baking Steel

You can benefit from preheating your pizza stone or baking steel in a number of ways. When cooking directly on the oven rack, your crust will be less crispy, crunchier, and heat will not be distributed evenly throughout the surface.

Furthermore, wood-fired pizzas have an intense charred flavor due to the extremely high temperatures these surfaces can withstand.

You can also reheat leftovers on preheated stones or sheets, as well as focaccia, naan bread, pretzels, and cookies.

By using preheated sheets or stones, pizza cooks quickly and evenly because their high thermal mass absorbs heat from the oven and releases it slowly to the food for consistent results without hot spots.

During preparation, this helps prevent shrinkage as well! You will also have less chance of sogginess on your finished product if you use these surfaces correctly. These surfaces retain moisture better than metal pans, so you won’t have to worry about soggy products.

You might want to turn off the broiler settings while baking, for example. Also, since you only need warm water and soap to clean them after each use, you won’t have to scrub!

FAQs

1. What happens if I overwork the pizza dough?

Overworking the dough can result in it shrinking excessively and becoming tough and difficult to stretch.

In order to keep this from happening, work quickly but gently while shaping the dough with your hands. Mix all ingredients before mixing them together at room temperature.

2. What is the best method for preventing pizza dough from shrinking?

Before mixing all the ingredients together and lightly flouring the work surface, make sure all ingredients used in making the pizza are at room temperature.

In addition, it’s a good idea to roll the dough out with a rolling pin in an outward spiral motion, rotating every few strokes to prevent the dough from losing its circular shape.

Avoid overworking the dough by working quickly but gently with your hands.

The final tip is to transfer pizzas from the work surface to preheated cooking surfaces using parchment paper instead of pressing hard on the crust when transferring it directly from the work surface to the cooking surface.

Final Words

When you make pizza from scratch, it’s not exactly easy. You can have a hard time working with pizza dough and nobody really enjoys working with it.

Knowing what you are looking for and understanding what is going on with your pizza dough will make it a great deal easier for you to discover problems and fix them before they destroy your dough.

There is a tendency for pizza dough to shrink, which is one of its most common problems. When you are rolling out pizza dough to prepare it for toppings and sauces, shrinking pizza dough will usually be most evident.

Stretching the dough out, rolling it into your desired dimensions, turning your back to get the sauce for the dough, and turning around again, you’ll discover it’s shrunk several inches.

People tend to believe that this phenomenon is uncommon, but it isn’t. You can fix the problem in several ways, fortunately.

Following a few key steps will allow you to master the art of shaping pizza dough without shrinkage, so you shouldn’t have any issues with overworking or excessive shrinkage.

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