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Relax About the Dough – Tips for Using Dough from the Store

A nice pie with a great crust made with store-bought pizza dough and some fresh mootz.

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By R.B. Quinn and Mindy Merrell of CheaterChef.Com.

Some folks prefer to do things the hard way; others just have better things to do. We do some of both, depending on the circumstances. When it comes to making your own pizza dough, it may not be for you (or, just isn’t for you today). If that’s the case, the easiest alternate route to great KettlePizza pizza is to pick up some already-made dough in the supermarket bakery department (or at your local pizzeria) and make pies on your KettlePizza with that. Store-bought dough makes a great crust, but a little advanced planning (and a few other tips) can ensure a successful result. Here’s what we learned from the pizza dough we bought from our Publix supermarket in Nashville.

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Four one-pound bags of Publix dough. The two puffy bags on the left have been resting in the fridge for two days. The bottom right for one day; the top right was bought this morning.

A very important point to keep in mind whether your make your own dough or buy it: yeast doughs must have rest and relaxation before you can make a pizza. This is good advice for the pizza cook as well!

Some store-bought dough tips for you:

A cold, hard ball of dough is impossible to stretch into a pie, and, even if it stretches a little and acts like it’s going to cooperate, the dough is likely to stretch unevenly and eventually tear. This frustrating situation we call the dreaded stretch-back leads to wads of dough flying about the patio or kitchen and a sad KettlePizza all fired up with no pies to bake. Cold dough = no pizza for you (not right now, anyway).

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The frustration jumps right out at you, doesn’t it? The dreaded stretch-back and fatal tear with the cold ball of dough bought this morning. No time to rest and relax in the fridge. Avoid the situation at all costs.

The easy solution? Plan ahead and bring home the dough a day, preferably two days, before KettlePizza night. The best way to develop gluten and flavor is a slow rise right in the refrigerator. You don’t have to do anything but put the bags of dough in the refrigerator right in their plastic bags and forget about them for 48 hours (even up to 72 hours). You’ll notice two days later that the plastic bags have significantly puffed up and the dough feels light to the touch and airy. This is a very good development.

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One-pound bags of dough separated into two or three pieces depending on the size pie you like or how many topping combos you need blank canvases for.

When it’s time to make pizza, open the puffed bags carefully and handle the dough gently so as not to force all the air out of the dough. Pizza dough is often sold in one-pound bags, so cut the ball of dough either in half for two larger (about 9- to 10-inch) pies or into thirds for smaller (about 5- to 6-inch) pies. We use a stainless dough scraper/cutter for a quick, clean cut. Place the balls on a floured surface and cover with plastic wrap or a warm, damp towel. Let them rest protected from the air while you’re getting the KettlePizza up to pizza temperature.

Here’s the beauty part—with a nice, soft, relaxed ball of dough with well-developed gluten, the ball stretches easily and brings out your inner pizza chef. With your fingers, hold the dough at the edges and allow gravity to gently stretch the dough downward.

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You can also use your knuckles to expand the dough; just push it out in a circular motion.

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Now your pie is ready for your favorite toppings and will puff up nicely in the hot KettlePizza.

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Handle the dough gently as you stretch and allow gravity to help you. A light touch helps keep those nice air pockets intact for a knockout puffy crust.

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Good air pockets keep the crust light, not dense, heavy, and too chewy.

A little forward thinking and planning ahead so you can let the dough develop on its own in the refrigerator will make for a relaxed dough, a relaxing KettlePizza night, and a relaxed you.