People get excited about making pizza from scratch because it is so delicious. The first step in this process is to prepare the dough. This can be a learning experience for anyone who hasn’t done it before.
They often have questions such as, “Can you over-knead pizza dough?” That said, it isn’t as difficult as it appears, and you can learn how to knead your dough so that it turns out perfectly every time.
What Happens When You Knead Pizza Dough Too Much?
Kneading is the process where you take moistened flour and work it into dough with your hands. You massage the ingredients that you have mixed together. The best way to do this is with the heel of your hand, and you push the dough away before folding it back. Go back and forth as you combine the ingredients, and the dough will end up getting smooth and bouncy or springy.
The reason why you knead the dough is to help the gluten stretch, which increases gluten production that causes the dough to become springy and more elastic. If you don’t knead the dough properly, it won’t rise the way that you want it to when you proof it.
If you knead the pizza dough too much, it will tear easily and it won’t have enough give. As a result, it isn’t able to proof the way it needs to so it won’t cook properly. You may end up with cooked dough on the outside and raw dough on the inside.
The outside of the dough will end up being hard and dense, and it may feel like a rock. It won’t rise properly, and it won’t expand the way you expect it to when you cook. The gluten will be too dense and could create a gluten barrier that traps the gasses from the yeast, and it will prevent rising.
Once you cut your pizza, you may see that it is dry and crumbles. Over-kneading will produce poor results when you cook your pizza.
Signs of Over-Kneading
There are several ways to tell when you have kneaded your dough enough, and there are signs of over-kneading to look for. It’s one of those things that becomes easier with experience because you will learn how the dough should feel when you are finished kneading it.
The key is to be able to notice when the dough isn’t sticky any longer. It will feel smooth and it will spring back up when you press on it. It normally takes between 12 and 15 minutes to knead the dough by hand.
If you have over-kneaded the dough, you will stretch it and it will easily tear rather than stretch. This happens because after the extra kneading, the gluten loses its elasticity when you knead it too much. The problem is that once you do this, the dough will not proof properly. It follows that it won’t cook properly either.
Most of the time, people don’t over-knead the dough when they are kneading by hand. Most people get tired before they get to that point. It is more common when people use a hand mixer. This tool actually speeds up the process of kneading so it takes less time. If you aren’t paying attention, it is easy to over-knead the dough with a hand mixer.
Signs of over-kneaded dough include the following:
- Dough tears easily rather than stretching
- Dough feels dense and tough to handle
- Dough is hard to work with
- Dough is hard to flatten out
- Dough is difficult to reshape
If you have over-kneaded your dough, you should stop as soon as you notice. You may be able to salvage it, but if you keep going, it won’t produce edible bread.
What to Do When You Over Knead Dough?
It is important that you work hard not to over-knead your dough because if you go too far, there isn’t much that you can do to fix it. Most of the time, people over-knead because they are using a mixer rather than their bare hands. It is easier to know when you have kneaded the dough enough with your hands because you can feel the texture.
Kneading is important because it allows the protein molecules in the flour to form, which makes healthy strands of gluten. The gluten is important because it helps the dough create gas, and this is what allows bread to rise and gives it its texture.
When you work the dough by hand, it is easier to feel the dough becoming more elastic and stretchy. You will notice right away if you stretch the dough and it tears. If you use a hand mixer to knead the dough, you can’t feel it and you might go too far. The problem is that you will end up with dough that cooks into a hard loaf of bread, and you won’t want to eat it.
If you use a hand mixer, you need to make sure that you stop and check the dough every few minutes. If you check it and it feels tough or dense, you will know that you are over-kneading. However, if you notice it as soon as it starts to be over-kneaded, you can stop and try to fix it.
If you have over-kneaded your dough a little bit, you can try to let it rise longer than normal before you shape it. You won’t be able to undo the damage that is done, but if you let the dough take a little more time to rise, it can relax the gluten so that you can still use it.
The pizza will turn out differently from what you intended, and it may have a harder crust and be dry on the inside. You might find that the bread is more crumbly when you cut the pizza. It won’t be ideal, but you won’t have to throw it away.
If you over-knead it any further, you won’t be able to use it.
How to Prevent Over-Kneading?
The best way to prevent over-kneading is to use your hands to knead the dough. You will feel how much the dough is stretching, and you will notice right away if it is becoming too dense. You will also start to learn how to sense when the dough is ready, which will make it easier to make pizza dough in the future.
If you are using a hand mixer, make sure that you stop every few minutes to check the dough. This is the only way to know how it feels. You want your dough to be elastic and smooth. It should be tacky when you touch it, and it should spring back up to its original shape when you press on it.
You can also roll the dough into a ball and hold it up in the air. It should remain as a ball, which means that the gluten has been worked enough to do its job.
You can over-knead pizza dough, and it is important to understand how it happens. If you want to enjoy a delicious homemade pizza, take precautions to knead your dough just the right amount.