Pizza is one of the most beloved dishes worldwide, with endless possibilities for toppings and flavor combinations. However, making a perfect pizza can be tricky, especially when it comes to the dough.
Have you ever found yourself struggling with a sticky pizza dough that just won’t cooperate? Don’t worry; you’re not alone!
Many pizza lovers have faced this issue, and it can be frustrating, to say the least. The good news is that there are several reasons why your pizza dough might be too sticky, and even better news is that there are easy ways to fix it.
So, let’s dive into the reasons why your pizza dough might be too sticky and discover how to get that perfect crust every time!
Overhydration, oil overload, or not enough kneading are the most common causes of sticky pizza dough. If your pizza dough is sticky, you can slowly add flour while kneading it.
It is ideal to have pizza dough that is a little sticky but not too sticky that it sticks to the working surface.
How Sticky Should Your Pizza Dough Be?
Let’s first understand what good pizza dough should look and feel like before we discuss in detail some of the reasons why pizza dough is extra sticky.
Before the ingredients are mixed well, the dough is usually very wet and sticky when you prepare the pizza dough. Water absorbs into it over time, making it less sticky.
The amount of sticky dough you should use depends on how comfortably you can handle the wet dough. Crusts are found to be better when the dough is stickier. To achieve lighter and crispier pizza, excess steam is produced when baking the pizza.
Having so much stickiness also means it will be difficult to handle the dough. It’s up to you to determine what works best for you. For instance, a hydration of 66% would be ideal.
There are different types of baking flour with different capabilities when handling water. Try different variations and stick to those that work best for you to achieve the best results.
What Makes Pizza Dough Sticky?
It’s hard to make the perfect pizza dough. Many factors affect the dough’s consistency, such as hydration, what kind of flour you use, and how much you knead the dough.
Many people make the mistake of not kneading their pizza dough enough. This is likely to leave you with sticky pizza dough! Kneading the pizza dough creates gluten. Taking your time with kneading can be frustrating.
The kneading process can take 15-30 minutes if you are doing it by hand. You’ll notice that kneading the dough reduces the stickiness over time.
If you would like more information about how to master gluten in pizza dough, I have written an in-depth article on the subject.
The flour must also contain a high enough gluten (protein) content to allow for proper gluten development. I’ve had great success with Caputo’s pizza flours.
A Naples-based company, Caputo, mills pizza flour for restaurants and pizzerias across the globe. Their flour is also well known for its quality.
Stickiness is only one of many problems caused by a lack of gluten. You will end up with a compact, ripply dough when you attempt to stretch it. It’s all about working that dough – get some flour and get your hands dirty!
Too Much Water
Typically, sticky pizza dough is because it contains too much water, which means it has too high hydration. It is simply a measure of how much water a dough contains in comparison to how much flour it contains.
You use percentages to describe hydration. A 70% hydration level, for example. Therefore, the amount of water in the dough is 70 percent of the amount of flour in the dough. So, if the dough is 70% hydrated, then it may contain 1000g of flour and 700g of water.
The dough is generally stickier if it has a high hydration level. It goes without saying that the more water you add to the dough, the stickier it will become. Other factors, such as how much water the flour can absorb, affect how sticky the dough turns out.
The perfect dough should be hydrated up to 65% if you want it to be non-sticky. You will get sticky dough if you go any higher. Increasing the hydration if you like softer, lighter doughs is always recommended.
Living in a humid environment result in absorbing moisture from the air. In other words, the exact same dough will have different hydration levels in a dry and humid environment.
There can be a variation of several percentage points in the hydration. In humid environments, dough absorbs more moisture, increasing its hydration. As a result, you may end up with sticky dough.
The Wrong Flour
In most pizza dough recipes, flour type is not specified. In this case, you are more likely to run into trouble if you use the wrong type of flour and a combination of moisture.
It is important to know that not all flours are created equal. A flour’s ability to absorb water greatly impacts the pizza dough’s texture.
A gluten-rich flour usually absorbs more water than a weaker one. It makes sense that a stronger flour would be better for a dough with more hydration.
It is rare to see the strength of flour listed on package labels, but it is measured in “W”. This makes it a bit difficult to locate. The strength of most Italian 00 pizza flours is 200-300W, which is great for 60-75% hydration.
How Do You Work With Sticky Dough?
Creating a dough with a stickier consistency will make it harder to work with. While this is not necessarily wrong, you can take steps to simplify the process.
The use of a dough scraper makes kneading sticky dough easier. You can then remove it from the bowl, the work surfaces, and your hands.
We recommend covering your hands with some water if you are still having difficulty. Your life will be easier if the dough does not stick to your hands as much. You can add a little oil to the bowl if your dough is still sticky after sufficiently kneading it.
Leave the dough to rise and rest in the bowl. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl. When the dough gets stuck in the bowl, scrape the inside with a dough scraper to release it.
Cover the peel with plenty of semolina before adding the dough if you wish to cook a sticky dough. Since a lot of the peel will come off as you slide the pizza onto the pizza stone, you shouldn’t be able to see it underneath the semolina.
If you’re working with sticky dough, preheating the oven and the stone to 450 or 500 degrees is a good idea. You should do this at least 30 minutes before cooking the pizza so it can heat up evenly and thoroughly.
This will lead to a better crust. The cooked pizza should also rest on the hot stone for at least five minutes before serving.
Do You Always Want Less Sticky Pizza Dough?
Sometimes you actually want sticky pizza dough, despite how annoying sticky dough feels. Although you do not necessarily want the dough to be sticky, certain dough characteristics are only present in sticky doughs.
What Do to If Your Dough Is Too Sticky?
Suppose your dough is sticky, and you have no idea what to do. Do you know how to make pizza dough less sticky? Be calm! It’s fixable!
Make sure to knead the dough in order to develop the gluten properly. If it is not enough, add flour slowly while kneading. However, don’t add too much flour; you don’t want your dough to become too dense and dry.
Make Sure You Use Warm Water
When making pizza dough, always use warm water. The gluten protein will remain intact, preventing stickiness. The yeast will also be activated and hydrated by warm water. Properly hydrated yeast releases glutens that hold the ingredients together.
The dough may need to be made again if you have used cold water from the beginning. Your dough may not hold together with flour, and even if it does, it will likely be hard and chewy.
Use Less Water In Humid Conditions
Consider using less water than specified in your recipe if you prepare your dough in a humid environment. If necessary, add a few spoons of water at a time until the consistency is right for you.
If you live in a humid area, you must go slowly to achieve tighter dough. Water shouldn’t be added in large amounts in one go, as this will raise the hydration level and make it difficult to decrease.
To activate the gluten protein in your pizza dough and reduce stickiness, you must mix it thoroughly or for a long enough period of time. You will no longer have to worry about the dough sticking to your hands as you continue to pound it.
You can use several tricks to get rid of sticky dough, depending on the cause. Water content is typically higher in pizza dough than flour content, which results in sticky dough. The dough will harden when flour is added.
Be careful not to overdo it. A pinch of flour at a time should be added slowly. To ensure that everything is mixing properly, knead the dough thoroughly.
Add more flour when the dough no longer sticks to your hands and the kneading surface. The problem should be solved if a high-water content causes the sticky texture.
How Do You Keep Pizza Dough From Sticking?
Pizza baking becomes complicated with sticky pizza dough. This is how you handle sticking through each step.
Stretching The Dough And Topping The Pizza
Shape your pizza by dipping it in flour, then shaking off any flour that doesn’t stick. A thin layer of flour will cover the entire surface of the dough, making it non-stick.
You can then stretch out the dough and add the toppings. It’s best to do this on the counter rather than the pizza peel, to avoid letting the dough sit there for too long. It is more likely that the dough will become stuck the longer you leave it.
The pizza is much easier to handle when still on the countertop, so I recommend preparing it there rather than on the peel.
For stubborn spots on the countertop, use your pizza dough scraper to loosen it, and apply a little extra flour. You can then drag your pizza to the pizza peel when ready to put it in the oven.
You should notice a slight improvement in your dough after kneading it. Adding a little oil to the dough before rising may make it less sticky.
Personally, I have never had to use oil to remove most dough from the container. The process is usually quite easy if you use a dough scraper. Simply turn the bowl upside-down and gently release the dough. Rest is up to gravity.
In the same way, if you have a second leave in dough balls, you should do the same. There is no need to add oil to stop the dough balls from sticking, but you can apply a little if you are struggling to remove them.
You can also drizzle flour over them before removing them. Afterwards, lift the dough ball straight up with the dough scraper.
It can be difficult to knead sticky dough since it sticks both to the working surface and your hands. It is, therefore, highly recommended to use a dough scraper. You will have an easier time handling the dough if you do this.
You can also wet your hands. As you knead the dough, it will get really sticky on your fingers, and adding water will help. I generally avoid using oil because I often make Neapolitan-style pizza dough that does not contain oil.
In conclusion, working with sticky pizza dough can be a frustrating experience, but it’s a common problem that can be easily fixed.
You can achieve the perfect crust every time by understanding the reasons behind the stickiness and following some simple tips and tricks.
These simple solutions can make a huge difference, whether it’s adjusting the flour-to-water ratio, kneading the dough properly, or letting it rest for longer.
So next time you’re faced with the situation, follow our guide, and get ready to enjoy a delicious, crispy, and perfectly cooked pizza. With some patience and practice, you’ll soon be making pizzas rivalling your favorite pizzeria.