Have you had sticky pizza dough? Its incredibly annoying when you knead the dough and it sticks to your fingers. When the dough is sticky it will get stuck on your countertop, in the proofing box.
More commonly it gets stuck to the pizza peel, which makes it harder to launch it into the oven.
Theres been times that sticky pizza dough has ruined my pizza. It can be fairly easy to prevent it being too sticky and in this article i’m going to show you why it gets sticky and how to sort it.
The most typical causes of sticky pizza dough are excessive hydration, too much oil, or insufficient kneading.
To fix a sticky pizza dough, add flour gradually as you knead it.
Because both the extra flour and more kneading will make the dough less sticky, it’s critical to add it gradually.If you don’t pay attention, adding too much flour might result in a dough that’s too stiff and dry.
You will want the pizza to have some stickiness as this helps give the pizza its texture. Although you don’t want it to stick to your worktop when you trying to knead or shape it.
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What Makes Pizza Dough Too Sticky?
Making excellent pizza dough is a difficult task. The consistency of the dough is determined by a number of factors, including hydration, the type of flour used, and how much it’s kneaded.
Too Much Water
The most common reason for a sticky pizza dough is that it has too much water.
The hydration of a dough is the amount of water it contains relative to flour. The Hydration is normally presented as a percentage. For example 70% Hydration.
This means that the dough contains 70% of the flour. As a result, a 1000g dry dough may contain 700g of water if it is 70% hydrated.
In general, the more hydrated a dough is, the stickier it is. To put it another way, the stickier the dough is, the more water you add to it.
Other elements that influence the dough’s stickiness include how much water the flour can absorb.
If the dough is too sticky, try testing different hydrations. Id recommend going for no more than 65%. Higher than this and it will get quite sticky.
If you’re looking for a non-sticky dough, I recommend hydration of around 65%. If you go any higher, the dough will start to get stickier. Make a dough, if you find it easy to work with but not as light as you would like, try increasing the hydration.
To help with testing different hydrations, i’ve created a easy to use pizza dough calculator.
Too Much Water Absorption – The Wrong Flour
Many recipes just advise flour, they don’t really specific which type of flour for your pizza dough. This can cause problems if combining using the wrong flour and not having the right hydration.
Not all flours are created equal. Even among Italian tipo 00 flours, there may be significant differences. The amount of water your flour can absorb will have a big impact on the final product.
A higher hydration pizza dough will require a more robust flour with a high gluten content to absorb enough water. As a result, a stronger flour would be preferable for a more hydrated pizza dough.
The measurement of flour strength is “W,” although it’s rarely indicated on the flour package. As a result, determining the exact amount may be challenging.
However, most Italian 00 pizza flours have a strength of 200-300W, which is suitable for 60-75% hydration.
In a humid climate, water from the air is absorbed. As a result, dough prepared in either a dry or humid environment will have different hydration levels. The amount of hydration in your dough may vary by several percentage points depending on the surrounding air humidity. In a humid environment, the dough will absorb additional water, resulting in a more sticky dough.
Many individuals make the error of not kneading the dough. The dough will stick to your hands and be difficult to work with as a result of this. When you knead the pizza dough, gluten forms. Kneading takes longer than you would expect. It might take anywhere from 15 to 10 minutes to knead bread by hand.
When you continue kneading the dough, the stickiness will decrease over time.
It’s also critical to have a flour with high enough gluten (protein) content for good gluten development.
If the gluten lacks development then the dough can become sticky, although there are other problems. Such as the dough having a high risk of it ripping and it being more compact.
The answer? Get a decent dough and get your hands in there.
Have Sticky Dough? What Should You Do?
How exactly do you make the pizza dough less sticky, even more so when you’ve already make it.
To begin, make sure the dough has been kneaded thoroughly to ensure that the gluten is fully developed.
If this isn’t sufficient, add a little bit of flour at a time as you knead. But be cautious not to add too much flour because it might result in your dough becoming too dry and hard.
Do You Always Want Less Sticky Pizza Dough?
Despite the fact that sticky pizza dough may appear to be extremely aggravating, you might actually want a sticky pizza dough from time to time.
You dont want the dough to be sticky, but different types of dough are more sticky. For example Poolish is a very high hydration but it has incredible air pockets to help make it light and tasty.
However, if you want to create a different crust texture, increase the hydration. To acquire a crispy, light crust, you may need to raise the hydration to 65-70%.
As a result, the dough will become sticky to work with. However, as a consequence of this, the crust is significantly lighter and has bigger bubbles.
How Do You Keep Pizza Dough From Sticking?
Sticky dough makes the entire pizza baking process more difficult. Here’s how to overcome sticking in each stage of the process.
It’s difficult to knead a sticky dough because it will stick to both the working surface and your hands. I therefore strongly advise using a dough scraper.
Using one will make it so much easier to handle the sticky dough.
Another thing you may try is to wet your hands. The dough can get trapped on your fingers, especially during the early mixing stages.
Adding water to your hands will stop this. You may also use oil to stop it sticking to your hands.
I try not to use it because I make Neapolitan-style pizza dough that doesn’t require any.
Once you have kneaded the dough, you may find it’s not as sticky. Its common for people to add a little oil to the bowl that they place the dough in to allow it to rise.
This should prevent the pizza dough sicking to the container.
More often than not you don’t need to do this. You should be able to get it out by using a scraper. If the dough has too much oil and you use a pizza oven, it could cause the pizza to burn quicker.
You could also add a little oil to the dough once you have balled it. This will prevent it sticking during the second prove.
Again I dont tend to do this, its normally easy enough to get the dough out by pilling it out from underneath. When I do take it out, ill often add a little flour over the top.
Shaping and topping the pizza
When I’m ready to shape the dough, ill put the dough ball into a bowl of semolina flour and then flip it over so both sides are covered. This helps prevent the pizza dough being too sticky.
I use semolina flour as it doesnt impact the taste of the cooked pizza or burn on the base during cooking.
You will often find your pizza dough sticky when you are adding your toppings. Even more so if you do it on your pizza peel.
If the surface is cold then this increases the chance of the dough sticking.
I’ll often shape out the dough on my worktop and then quickly move it onto a wooden pizza peel to then add the toppings. Wood tends to be warmer than metal so it should stick as often.
Some people shape and top their pizza on the worktop and then drag it onto the peel, so it spends less time on the peel and therefore reduces the chance of it sticking.
If it does still stick, lift up the pizza and put under some semolina flour. I also shake the peel every so often to stop it sticking.
Let’s look more into pizza peels.
You may use semolina flour to dust your pizza peel to prevent it from sticking.
Semolina is the best option for dusting since it’s a tougher variety of wheat flour. As a result, the dough will roll more readily, making it simpler to drop the pizza into the oven.
Another reason for a dough’s sticking to the peel is that it becomes coarser as it cooks, causing the vacuum between the dough and the peel to grow, which causes pizzas to stick.
Semolina can take higher heat than tipo 00 flour. If you’re making pizza on a pizza oven or in a pizza stone, wheat flour may catch fire. This may result in smoke and a terrible-tasting crust.
Cornmeal is another popular option for dusting, but I’m not a fan of the way it tastes. Cornmeal isn’t as heat-resistant as semolina, and when baked, it burns.
It’s surprising how much of a difference having a good pizza peel will make. I’ve had a couple where the pizza will always stick to it, no matter what I did.
Tested a number of different peels and found some great ones for actually making the pizza on and transferring to the oven. I decided to write a guide on the best pizza peels.
Id suggest wood or one of the perforated ones, these are great as they allow air under the peel so it helps prevent the dough sticking.
Stop Pizza Dough Sticking To Your Pizza Stone
In general your dough should never stick to a pizza stone. You should be heating up the stone whilst your oven heats up.
Therefore as soon as the pizza goes onto the stone, the heat will crisp up the base.
You should therefore NEVER add flour to the stone as it will just burn straight away.
I’ve done a guide on finding and using pizza stones.
Pizza dough can become too sticky for various reasons. It could be because it was over-proved or has been left out of the fridge overnight before cooking.
Another reason could be because you haven’t used semolina flour to dust your pizza peel, so the dough sticks as you try and transfer it to the oven.
You also might be applying the toppings on your pizza too early, before placing in the oven or onto a wooden pizza peel that is close to room temperature.
You’ve learned how to fix sticky pizza dough, shape and top your pizza without it sticking, as well as tips for using a pizza peel.