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An Even Easier Way to Stretch Pizza Dough

By Cook's Illustrated Published July 2014

Refrigerating balls of pizza dough for 4 to 24 hours makes stretching much easier.

One of the most challenging aspects of making pizza is getting the dough to stretch into an even, thin crust without it tearing or springing back—a problem that results from the dough’s strong gluten network.

Our Thin-Crust Pizza recipe (see related content) makes the task easier (and delivers more flavor, too) by calling for proofing the dough in the refrigerator for three days before shaping it into balls and then stretching, topping, and baking it. This longer proofing relaxes the gluten network, which makes it easier to stretch. But we’ve recently found a way to make the stretching process even easier for any cold-fermented pizza dough: Shape the proofed dough into balls and then return it to the fridge for 4 to 24 hours before stretching it. This allows natural enzymes in flour to continue to break down the gluten, helping it return to its relaxed state.

CHILL BEFORE STRETCHING: Refrigerating balls of pizza dough for 4 to 24 hours makes stretching much easier.