Why is My Pizza Dough Hard? Common Causes and Solutions

5/5 - (3 votes)

Have you ever wondered why your pizza dough is hard? If so, you’re not alone. Many people experience their pizza dough becoming hard or difficult to work with when making pizzas.

Why is My Pizza Dough Hard?

Too much strong flour: Use all-purpose flour.

Over kneaded dough: Knead 6-8 minutes until elastic.

Dough rose too long: Bake when nearly doubled.

Under risen dough: Ensure doubled before baking.

Dough too cold: Let dough warm before rolling.

From lack of kneading to incorrect storage and even the type of flour used, there are many factors that can affect the texture of your pizza dough. In this article, we will discuss why your pizza dough may be hard and what you can do to make it easier to work with in the future.

Discover the perfect blend of authentic flavors and fresh ingredients at Dry Street Pub and Pizza – your go-to spot for mouthwatering pizza! Visit drystreetpubandpizza.com to browse our menu and order online for a truly unforgettable pizza experience that will keep you coming back for more!

why is my pizza dough hard

Why is my pizza dough hard

There are several potential reasons why your pizza dough may be turning out hard.

Here are some possible reasons why your pizza dough could be hard:

The flour used might not have been the right type. For pizza dough, you need flour high in gluten, like bread flour or possibly all-purpose flour. Flours with low gluten will result in tough dough.

The dough may have been overmixed. Mix the dough only until the flour is incorporated and the dough comes together. Avoid kneading it excessively which can activate the gluten protein too much and make the dough elastic and tough.

The dough may not have fermented properly. This allows the gluten to relax which results in a softer, more pliable dough. Make sure to let your dough rise for the recommended time so the yeast can activate and produce gases that make the dough lighter.

The dough may have been underbaked. If the dough does not bake long enough at a high enough temperature, the starches will not gelatinize fully, leaving the crust hard and chewy instead of soft and crisp. Ensure your dough bakes at atleast 425°F for the recommended time based on the dough weight.

Over-kneading’s effect on dough texture

When making pizza dough, it’s important to avoid over-kneading which can lead to a tough, elastic dough. Here’s how over-kneading affects dough texture:

Over-kneading activates too much gluten development. As you knead dough, you develop gluten strands from the wheat proteins in the flour. Gluten gives dough its structure and ability to rise. However, when you knead dough too much, the gluten strands become overly developed and tightly woven. This results in an elastic dough that is difficult to work with and bakes up tough.

It produces a dense crumb. The tightly woven gluten structure from over-kneading traps too much air within the dough instead of allowing it to escape during baking. This leads to an dense, airless crumb within the baked good instead of an open, airy crumb.

It reduces dough extensibility. Dough that has been over-kneaded becomes less extensible, meaning it can’t be stretched or formed as easily. Properly developed dough should be elastic yet extensible, allowing you to shape it for pizza, bread, or other baked goods.

The crust is chewier and tougher. The overly developed gluten creates a baked crust that is chewier, less tender, and more difficult to tear or bite through compared to a properly kneaded dough with moderately developed gluten.

In summary, avoid over-kneading your pizza dough for optimum texture. Knead only until the dough comes together, then allow proper fermentation time for the gluten to relax and develop good extensibility and a light, airy crumb in the finished crust.

How to Determine Whether Enough Gluten Has Developed

Determining whether enough gluten has developed in your dough is crucial for achieving the desired texture and structure. Here are a few methods to assess gluten development:

Windowpane Test

Take a small piece of the dough and gently stretch it between your fingers. If you can stretch it thin enough to see light passing through without tearing, and it forms a translucent “windowpane,” it indicates sufficient gluten development.

Elasticity and Stretchiness

Give the dough a gentle stretch. If it stretches easily without tearing and feels elastic, with the ability to hold its shape, it suggests good gluten formation.

Finger Poke Test

Gently press your finger into the dough. If the dough springs back quickly and fills in the indentation, it indicates adequate gluten development.

Gluten Strands

Tear off a small piece of dough and gently stretch it. If you notice long, stretchy strands forming, it suggests that gluten has developed well.

Remember, gluten development takes time, especially during kneading. If your dough is not exhibiting these signs, continue kneading for a few more minutes and reassess. However, be cautious not to over-knead, as it can lead to excessively tough dough. Practice and experience will help you refine your ability to judge gluten development accurately.

Insufficient hydration and hard dough

Insufficient hydration can indeed contribute to the development of a hard dough. When the dough lacks adequate water or liquid, it becomes difficult for the flour to properly absorb and form gluten. This results in a dry and stiff texture.

To address this issue, ensure that you are following the recipe’s recommended ratios and accurately measuring the water or liquid ingredient. If the dough feels dry during mixing or kneading, gradually add small amounts of water until the desired consistency is achieved.

Proper hydration allows the flour to hydrate fully, promoting gluten development and yielding a softer and more pliable dough texture.

Why is My Pizza Dough Hard?
Why is My Pizza Dough Hard?

Yeast and fermentation in dough softness

Yeast and the fermentation process play a critical role in producing a soft and easy-to-handle dough, including for pizza crusts. Here are the main ways:

  1. Yeast produces CO2 gas during fermentation. As the yeast eats sugar in the dough and produces CO2, tiny bubbles form throughout the dough. This incorporates many small air pockets that create space between the gluten strands, weakening the gluten network. This results in a softer, puffier dough that’s easier to stretch and shape.
  2. Fermentation allows the gluten to “relax.” As the gluten strands become hydrated and swollen during mixing and kneading, they form a strong network that can make the dough elastic and stiff. During fermentation, the action of the yeast and the warming temperature causes the gluten to soften and unfold slightly, reducing its strength and rigidity. This makes the dough more pliable and manageable.
  3. The longer fermentation time, the softer the dough. Giving dough a sufficient first rise and secondary fermentation, as in using a bench rest, produces more gas bubbles and further relaxes the gluten. This contributes significantly to a soft, workable texture that remains supple during shaping and baking.
  4. Yeast consumption of sugars affectscrumb texture. As the yeast consumes sugars in the dough, it produces not only gas but also alcohol and other compounds. These substances impact the structure of the starch network in the dough, helping produce a light, soft interior crumb in the baked good.

Temperature and humidity’s impact on dough

How temperature and humidity affect the rise and consistency of dough

The temperature and humidity levels of an environment directly impact how dough rises, spreads, and bakes. Both factors affect the yeast activity within the dough. Yeast requires specific temperature and moisture ranges to ferment properly and produce the gas bubbles that cause dough to rise.

Temperature: Yeast functions best at warm temperatures between 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Below 60 degrees, yeast becomes dormant and will rise very slowly or not at all. When dough is too cold, gluten development is also diminished, making for a tight, dense texture. However, yeast becomes inactive above 110 degrees, killing the microorganisms. Therefore, an optimal warm temperature between 80 to 85 degrees F allows for maximum yeast fermentation and rise in dough.

Humidity: Yeast also needs some moisture in the air to produce adequate carbon dioxide. If dough sits in an environment that is too dry, the water on the surface of the dough will quickly evaporate, limiting yeast activity and rise. About 60 to 70% relative humidity provides best conditions for breads and pizza crusts while slightly lower humidity around 50% is preferable for cookies, cakes and pastries. Higher humidity above 75% can cause dough to rise too quickly and become slack or sticky.

In summary, controlling temperature and humidity while dough rises and bakes leads to more predictable results in terms of rise, texture, color and flavor. Proper yeast fermentation in optimized conditions yields light and airy breads with an irregular hole structure and chewy crusts.

Proper dough resting and rising times

Proper resting and rising times are essential in getting the most out of your pizza dough. The time it takes for the dough to rest and rise will depend on several factors, including the temperature and humidity of the environment, as well as type and brand of flour used. Generally, a minimum 1-2 hour room temp rise is recommended for fresh dough, however if it’s cold outside an overnight refrigerated rise is ideal for maximum flavor enhancement.

If you want to speed up fermentation, a pre-ferment or ‘poolish’ can be used as a base mixture which will help break down complex carbohydrates present in wheat flours to give better texture and flavor.

Always cover your bowl with plastic wrap or foil when allowing your dough to rest so that moisture doesn’t evaporate; this will also help trap heat which aids in faster fermentation. Furthermore taking breaks while kneading helps develop gluten strands more slowly so they don’t snap back when stretched/rolled out resulting in a softer crust once baked.

In addition proper measurements matter too; usually 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of instant dried active yeast per 2 cups (280-300 grams) of all purpose flour is enough but feel free to adjust according to your taste and results.

Right flour type for soft pizza dough

The right flour type for soft pizza dough is essential to achieve the desired texture. Here are some things to consider when selecting a flour:

All-purpose (AP) Flour is one of the most popular types used in pizza because of its high gluten content, which provides a better elasticity and chewiness.

Bread Flour has a higher protein content than AP flour, giving your crust more strength for greater expansion in the oven.

00 Flour is an Italian milled wheat flour that gives your dough lightness and crispiness with just enough strength to hold it together without becoming overly tough or chewy.

Whole Wheat Flour adds flavor complexity and depth while also providing more nutrition due to its higher fiber content.

Cornmeal or Semolina can be added into the AP/Bread flour mix at up to 20% ratio as these grains help absorb moisture while also adding crunchy texture on top of increasing flavor profile exponentially!

Gluten Free (GF) Pizza Dough alternatives such as chickpea, rice, soybean, oat & almond flours offer delicious options if you’re avoiding gluten but do keep in mind they require extra hydration due their lack of gluten binding proteins.

By taking all these factors into consideration you can ensure that your pizza dough is soft and flavorful every time!

Oven temperature’s effect on crust hardness

The temperature of the oven can significantly impact the hardness and texture of the crust for baked items such as bread, pizza, and pastries. Proper baking temperature is crucial to achieve the ideal level of crispness and crunch for various types of dough.

When baking at too low of a temperature, the crust will not achieve sufficient browning and maillard reactions that result in flavorful crunchy textures. Moisture within the dough risks staying trapped inside, leading to a soggy or rubbery texture on the crust.

However, excessively high baking temperatures also pose issues. The outermost layers of the dough can dry out and burn before the interior cooks thoroughly. This results in an unpleasant burnt taste and fragile charred crust.

For most breads and pizza dough, an oven temperature between 400 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. The higher end of this range ensures a crisp and golden-brown crust, while still allowing time for the interior dough to cook through properly.

Pastry crusts for pies and tarts are slightly more delicate and often require slightly lower oven temperatures between 350 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps the crust bake evenly without burning before the filling finishes cooking. The specific optimal temperature depends on factors like dough thickness and fillings used.

Tips for crispy exterior and soft interior

The key to achieving a crispy exterior and soft interior for your pizza crust is finding the right balance of moisture, heat and time. Here are some tips for achieving this:

1. Use the right type of flour – all-purpose (AP) Flour is generally more popular in pizza dough due to its high gluten content, which provides better elasticity and chewiness. For crispier results, try adding bread flour or 00 Flour as these have higher protein content that give your dough more strength when it’s baked.

2. Measure ingredients correctly – proper measurements are essential; usually 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of instant dried active yeast per 2 cups (280-300 grams) of all purpose flour is enough but feel free to adjust according to your taste and results.

3. Keep an eye on oven temperature – too high temperatures will cause your pizza crust to become hard and crunchy before it’s fully cooked while too low temperatures can lead to an undercooked or soft crust due insufficient evaporation off quickly enough for proper cooking time; aim for 350°F (177°C) or 375°F (190°C).

4. Add oil drops onto the dough – adding oil droplets onto the pizza surface can help keep the dough moist and provide a more crunchy exterior.

5. Use cold fermentation – leaving your pizza dough in the fridge for 12-18 hours before using it allows for better flavor development as well as create softer, chewier texture on top of increasing flavor profile exponentially!

Why is My Pizza Dough Hard?
Why is My Pizza Dough Hard?

Adjusting dough recipe for softer texture

Adjusting your pizza dough recipe for a softer texture can be done through several simple steps. First, make sure that the dough is sufficiently hydrated and use either all-purpose or a mixture of all-purpose flour and bread flour. The hydration level should be around 40%-60%, depending on flours used, proofing times and other factors.

Second, the proofing time can affect the hardness of your crust; aim for faster proofings in warmer temperatures or longer but slower ones if possible. You can also add something like oil to keep pizza soft while baking as it helps minimize moisture loss thus limiting hardening effects linked to exposure to high heat.

Third, consider adjusting oven temperature when baking; start with a lower temperature (350°F (177°C) or 375°F (190°C)) then adjust as desired depending on how crispy you’d like your finished product to be! Lastly, additional toppings can add flavor while helping keep pizza softer by holding onto more moisture so make sure they are fully cooked before serving! By taking these steps into mind when preparing your homemade pizzas you will ensure that every slice is perfectly soft yet crunchy each time!


In conclusion, hard pizza dough can be caused by a variety of factors such as insufficient hydration, improper proofing times or using the wrong type of flour. To ensure that your homemade pizzas have the perfect soft yet crunchy texture each time you make them, it is important to measure ingredients correctly and adjust oven temperature accordingly.

Additionally, adding oil drops onto the dough before baking can help keep it moist while ensuring that additional toppings are fully cooked will also contribute to achieving this desired result. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to turn out delicious pizzas every time!

Some problems about pizza dough

Here are some common issues bakers face when making pizza dough from raw ingredients:

8 Things Cause Pizza Dough Hydration Explained

Why Is My Pizza Dough Not Rising?

What is the Best Water For Pizza Dough?

How To Soften Hard Pizza Dough

Can You Eat Pizza Dough Raw? 

Why is My Pizza Dough Hard?

Why Does Pizza Dough Keeps Shrinking? 

Does Pizza Dough Have Egg? 


What type of flour should I use for my pizza dough?

All-purpose (AP) flour is a popular choice for pizza dough due to its high gluten content, which provides better elasticity and chewiness. If you are looking for something crispier, consider using bread flour or 00 Flour as these have higher protein content that will give your dough more strength when it’s baked.

How much yeast should I add to my pizza dough?

The amount of yeast will vary depending on the type of recipe you are using and how long you are planning on proofing your dough for, however generally 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of instant dried active yeast is enough per 2 cups (280-300 grams) of all purpose flour should be sufficient.

How do I adjust oven temperature while baking my pizza?

Oven temperatures can directly affect the hardness or softness of your crust; too high temperatures will cause it to become hard and crunchy before it’s fully cooked while too low temperatures can lead to an undercooked or soft crust due insufficient evaporation off quickly enough for proper cooking time. Aiming for 350°F (177°C) to 375°F (190°C) is a good starting point and can be adjusted according to how crispy you’d like your crust to be.

What other methods can I use to make my pizza dough softer?

Adding oil drops onto the dough before baking can help keep it moist and prevent it from drying out too quickly, as well as adding additional toppings that are fully cooked before serving. Additionally, making sure that the dough is sufficiently hydrated and using either all-purpose or a mixture of all-purpose flour and bread flour can also help to achieve the desired soft yet crunchy texture.

How long should I proof my pizza dough for?

The length of time that you need to proof your dough for will depend on the type and amount of yeast used, as well as environmental factors such as temperature; typically, aim for a shorter faster proofing in warmer temperatures or longer but slower proofings if possible. A good rule of thumb is to proof for 1-2 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator. Additionally, the dough should be doubled in size before it’s ready to be stretched and cooked.

How should I store my pizza dough?

The best way to store pizza dough is in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, as this will give your dough time to ferment and develop flavor. Make sure to let your dough rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before using and if you’re not planning on using it within a few days, freezing it can be a great option as well.

Why does my pizza stick on the baking sheet?

Usually, sticking of pizzas can happen due to insufficient flouring of the pan or failing to preheat the oven long enough so that it’s hot enough when starting off with adding your ingredients onto it; make sure that you are judiciously flouring or oiling all surfaces that come into contact with your pizza crust and ensure that you’re letting the oven preheat sufficiently before inserting any food into it.

What role does fermentation play in making homemade pizzas?

Fermentation plays a crucial role in developing and improving both taste and texture of homemade pizzas; by allowing yeast some time (usually about 8-12 hours) for fermenting within the dough, it produces carbon dioxide and alcohol which adds flavor to your pizza as well as making them rise. Additionally, it helps to prevent your pizza crust from becoming too hard or dense when cooked.


Why won’t my pizza dough work?

Leave a Comment