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How To Prepare Your Ready-Made Pizza Dough For Neapolitan-Style Pizza

If you are wanting a lovely, puffy Neapolitan-style crust on your pizza, then leave the rolling pin in the drawer!

Stretching pizza dough by hand is not as hard as it sounds and means you can control the shape of the base, leaving a thin centre and plenty of airy dough at the edge which turn into puffy crusts almost as soon as they hit the hot oven.

However, unless the dough has been properly proved, your stretching efforts will be fraught with unnecessary challenges. So here’s how we do it:

How To Thaw Your Pizza Dough

Allowing your frozen pizza dough balls time to thaw and prove slowly in the fridge will give excellent results, thanks to the cold fermentation process explained elsewhere in our blog.

  • Place the doughballs in dry, sealed containers.
  • Mist them lightly with water to help rehydrate the surface.
  • Give them a couple of hours at room temperature to soften then transfer to the fridge.
  • You can cold prove Virtue pizza dough for up to 3 days.

A Word On Proving Containers

The container you use for thawing and proving must be sealed, to prevent the dough from drying out. 

Stackable dough proving trays are invaluable and can be purchased very cost effectively from catering equipment suppliers such as ECatering

Reshape The Pizza Dough

Once the dough has fully thawed (approx 12 hours in the fridge) it’s a good idea to re-shape the dough. 

This re-shaping step is not just cosmetic, but creates tension with the gluten, giving a better spring to your crusts later.

Reshape the dough by drawing them with cupped hands across a work surface and place them back in the proving container, leaving space for them to double in size.

Ambient Prove

Final proving time will vary, depending on the dough type and ambient room temperature. As a guide, these are the approximate proving times for our pizza dough. It is possible to use them with shorter proving times, but it’s well worth waiting!

  1. Wildfarmed Sourdough: 2-4 hours
  2. Sourdough Blend: 2-4 hours

As much as you want them to be well-proved, you don’t want them to over-prove, so keep an eye on them and generally, once they have doubled in size, they are good to go. 

In very warm weather, these times can reduce by half, so if you are worried they are over-proving, pop them back into the fridge and remove them an hour or 2 before cooking. 

How To Stretch Pizza Dough By Hand

OK, time to stretch. 

First up, make sure that you are ready to start topping and cooking straight away, as the stretched dough can become sticky and hard to work with if left hanging around. 

Some folks par-cook the bases without any toppings on first and then finish off later when they are ready. We prefer to stretch, top, cook and serve in one continuous flow, and let the good times roll. 

Take your dough ball, dunk it in a bowl of flour or fine semolina and then lay it on your work surface.

Press gently into the centre of the dough with your fingers and begin to work outwards from the centre, pushing all the trapped air into the crust. once you are at 8″ or so you can lay the dough over the back of your hands and gently stretch the dough with your fists. Another way is to let the dough hang from your fingers and work around the edge, letting gravity stretch the dough for you.

There are huge numbers of videos online showing various ways of stretching and generally, everyone comes up with a combination of methods that works for them. 

All the while, try and maintain your crust ring of 1″ or so.

Once you have fully stretched, flop your base gently onto your work surface, which should be lightly dusted with flour, semolina or polenta according to your preference and get topping! Refer to our Golden Rules post for other tips on how to make the perfect pizza.

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