The Method: Stretching Pizza Dough
We have the dough, but we still need to shape it! Let's stick with the basics so that pizza night can be a relaxed (and relatively clean) affair.
1. Always start with dough that is a room temperature. Let it sit on the counter for al least 30 minutes before stretching.
2. Prepare your surfaces: put some parchment paper (with or without semolina/corn meal) on your peel or baking pan, and a couple of drops of olive oil on your stretching surface (the oil will improve the texture and flavor of your crust). Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
3. Flatten your dough ball into a disc about 1/2 inch thick on your oiled surface.
4. Using your three middle fingers, push the edges out. Work around the circle and push the edge out evenly, until the disc is 8-10 inches in diameter.
5. If at any point your dough starts to snap back into shape rather than gently pulling back, let it sit for another 15-20 minutes.
6. Let gravity be your helper: pick up the dough with both hands on one side and allow gravity to stretch it down. Turn the dough in your hands, as though it is a steering wheel, and work your way around until all of the dough has stretched. Continue until it is about 1/3 of an inch thick. Our Slice of Vermont dough balls make a 16" pizza.
7. When satisficed with the thickness of your crust, place it onto the prepared peel or pan. Use the 3 finger method to push out any edges that are too thick or not the right shape. Remember... even if it looks funny, it will still taste delicious!
8. Ladle on sauce and toppings, and bake for 5-9 minutes, until golden and bubbling.
Once you have mastered the "Steering Wheel" method, you might be ready for the "Knuckle Stretch" or, eventually, some tossing in the air. But for now... let's focus on not dropping the dough on the floor....