Recently, we decided to start making our own dough instead of buying frozen Gonnella dough balls in part to save money but also to see if we could create a better product. We don’t have a large mixer as we didn’t have a need for it and before investing in one we wanted to see if we could create at least as good a dough product as we were buying.
I have a recipe for a dough that is very similar to the ORIGINAL Noble Roman’s dough that is also supposed to be very similar to the Gonnella dough we buy. On first try (using a small mixer) I felt the dough was too salty and I must have done something wrong as the dough didn’t rise in the oven.
Knowing that I couldn’t make enough dough using our small mixer, I started to wonder how great pizza dough was made before gigantic mixers came along. So, I searched the internet and only came upon dough mixing by hand instructions and recipes for home use.
Anxious to try again, I figured I would use the instructions for mixing dough by hand that I found online. The second batch which was made about noon today and used about 8pm was left on the counter to proof as I wanted to test it before leaving the store.
I took the flour and made a “ring” on the countertop with the flour, added a 75 degree water in the ring, then added the yeast to the water and let it bubble a little and gave it a little flour to start it feeding. I poured the salt and sugar ( a little less that the recipe asked for) on top of the flour ring then started incorporating the flour/salt/sugar into the water/yeast. When it was fully incorporated, I then added olive oil and kneaded it a little bit then let it rise twice and punched it down and kneaded it just a little each time I punched it down. We used it on the 3rd rise.
It did have large bubbles which I know creates “insulation” so my breadsticks needed a little extra cook time but the dough was DELICIOUS. However, in both batches the dough didn’t stretch well. The first batch was mixed in the mixer for a good 10 minutes while the second batch was mixed by hand and kneaded very little. Both times, the dough seriously retracted when stretched so I wasn’t able to get an 18" pizza from 16oz of my dough but can easily get an 18" from 16oz of Gonnella.
I didn’t dock the dough after stretching but I did roll it this time as that was the only way to get some diameter out of it without it tearing. I did hear some bubbles being popped as I rolled the dough and worried it would not rise well in the oven but it looked beautiful coming out of the oven and it had a nice crispness on the outside and a really wonderful tenderness on the inside. We all agreed that taste wise, it was far better than the Gonnella.
So my question is, what did I do wrong? What can I do so the dough will stretch easier? If using this method, should I roll the dough instead of just stretching? Does anyone mix dough by hand anymore? If so, do they all have Popeye arms (not an attractive look on my female arms)? Does anyone have any advice or instructions or tips on what to do/what not to do if mixing dough by hand? I liked that I mixed the dough with little kneading then let it rise as my total time investment was only about 10 mins. from start to usage.
Any useful advice is greatly appreciated.