Pizza crust was tough.

I switched out a portion--about 1/2---of the AP flour called for in the recipe and used white whole wheat as well as TJ's all-purpose(higher protein level). I used only a fraction of regular unbleached AP which is what was originally called for. The recipe calls for first making a yeast sponge with tepid water, olive oil, and flour, then adding more flour & salt. I could tell it was tough & dry when it came together under the dough hook in the KitchenAid. My experience with yeast dough is pretty much ltd. to the much softer challah dough, always kneaded by hand; have only made pizza once before. Was the white-whole wheat substitution the cause of the dry texture?

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14 Comments

creamtea January 4, 2012
Thanks everyone, I made it again tonight with suggested changes, I eliminated the whole wheat for the time being.I followed boulangere's advice and added a bit of milk (1/4 c. only). I added way less flour and a bit more water and got a rather soft dough. It a little hard to handle, so I stuck it in the mixer with the hook which worked out fine. I hand kneaded (not very much) at the end. It admittedly had an overly long 2nd rise, but that was unavoidable. I lightened the topping and also cranked up the oven to 500 and got a crisp bubbly crust. No time to let it rest overnight which would have improved it further, but I need the oven for other things tomorrow. Overall much happier with results! Thanks to you all.
 
boulangere January 4, 2012
Good for you for forging ahead!
 
hrosdail January 4, 2012
Gluten makes the dough stretchy, but yours sounds dry. Maybe try adding gluten and more water or some olive oil. I find it best when I want to change a recipe, make it first without changing the flours and the slowly make the changes to see the difference gradually. Hope this helps.
 
boulangere January 4, 2012
Thanks, hla. I use a blend of AP and cake flour for pizza dough, trying to get close to the texture of European 00 flour. As has been suggested, you did indeed need more water in your dough because of the higher protein contents. You can even sub 25% milk for a little more tenderness. If you're using higher protein flours, they will be less forgiving of being kneaded very much, and as pierino suggests, will certainly benefit from a long rest period, which permits the protein molecules to fully hydrate and unfold without prolonged kneading. A pizza should always be baked quickly at high heat, but if you have a dough that hasn't either been sufficiently hydrated or tenderized via lower protein flours (and also sufficiently hydrated I should add), your result will be tough. Also, don't be heavy-handed with toppings; that just slows down the baking time. Persevere! It's very do-able, and you'll be so happy with your first perfect one!
 
susan G. January 4, 2012
I searched for crusts that might give you parameters specific to whole wheat:
http://www.food52.com/recipes/search?c=1&recipe_search=pizza%20whole%20wheat
And years ago, New York Magazine give a 1st prize to a crust made with part rye flour...
 
susan G. January 4, 2012
One of my health advice adages: "Fiber without water is called a cork." Same principle in dough.
 
creamtea January 4, 2012
I actually think I would have done better kneading by hand, as I would have had a "feel" for it. I'm not sure if it was worth putting it in the mixer--esp. since the bowl got perma-stuck on the stand and required warm compresses, boiling water, & various gymnastics on the floor to get it loose (glad no one was here watching)--would have been easier to do it the old fashioned way.
 
pierino January 4, 2012
You can start Italian doughs with the stand mixer, but yes, you are right. It's best to finish by hand on a floured surface.
 
sfmiller January 4, 2012
The white whole wheat flour probably made for an insufficiently hydrated dough for the reason hardlikearmour notes. Next time hold back some of the flour and only add it if the dough seems too wet in the mixer. The dough should stick to your hand slightly when you turn it out--the flour will continue to absorb moisture during its rise(s). If it's still a little wet after the rise(s) you can always add a bit more flour when you work it.

I doubt the protein content of the white WW was a big factor--it's only slightly higher than most AP flours.
 
creamtea January 4, 2012
Thanks, I think I added too much flour and probably too large a proportion of whole wheat. I think w/yeast dough you have to leave a lot of leeway and go by touch.
 
pierino January 4, 2012
Actually high gluten flour is great for pizza (as well as for bagels). I give the dough an overnight rest in cling wrap and when it's time to roll it out I make at as thin as possible, stretching with my hands as I turn it on the bench. After that I crank up the oven to it's highest setting, at least 500F. Alternatively I like to cook it outside on a wood fire which gets even hotter.
 
creamtea January 4, 2012
Thanks Pierino I'll try again and rest it (kids can wait a day if I don't tell them). Will bake indoors since it's 13º & breezy out...
 
hardlikearmour January 4, 2012
I suspect yes - the higher protein + higher fiber of the white whole wheat are likely to blame. Fiber is like a sponge, so you probably needed more water. The higher protein increases the gluten so you get more toughness. Maybe boulangere or one of our other bread experts will chime in.
 
creamtea January 4, 2012
I too think it was the white whole wheat, also I should have known to add the flour by feel, not by recipe. It can be very variable.
 
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