Få till rätt styrka på degen med spreadtest

Get the right dough consistency with the spread test.

A really good pizza dough is not just about the ingredients, it also involves getting the right fermentation and a lot of other factors that eventually lead to a dough with the right “strength”.

The right strength for a pizza dough is about being able to bake it out properly while also getting awesome pizzas out of the oven.

Here you will read about what dough strength is, why it is so incredibly important, and how to ensure you're doing it correctly at home.

NOTE: More on this can be read in our book where we go deeper into the topic.

Start right - use the dough calculator

Before you do anything else, you need to make a good pizza dough. Of course, there are different recipes, but here's one we think gives really good results without being complicated.

In our dough-calculator you simply enter how many pizzas you want, how long the dough can ferment and what temperature it should ferment at. Voilà, you get the exact measurements for all ingredients adapted just for your conditions. Then you also know that it is certainly not that which is wrong :)

What does dough “strength” mean?

To start with it suits to say that the biggest difference between a Neapolitan pizza dough and other common bread doughs lies in what we call the dough's strength. Simply explained, the pizza dough should ferment and spread sideways, while a regular bread dough should ferment more upwards.

When it comes to pizza, the strength is very important to be able to bake out a nice base without too much hassle. If you've made pizza before, you probably know how annoying it can be when the dough doesn't do what you want. There is actually a whole science behind this, and fortunately, you can affect the result.

You can have fat in the dough which makes it easier to handle, but of course, you can't do that when you make authentic Neapolitan pizza. Therefore, you simply have to get the basics right. When we talk about fortitude, there are primarily three different “variables” to look at:

  1. Elasticity: Elasticity is about how easily the dough returns to its original shape when you stretch it out.
  2. Extensibility: This describes how much force is needed to stretch out the dough.
  3. Stretchibility: The stretchability is how far you can stretch the dough before it starts to break.

We have simplified the dough types you often get to "strong dough", which has high elasticity and high extensibility, and "weak dough", which has low elasticity and low extensibility. The stretchability is not as important as it can be high or low no matter what the rest is. Then it is very unusual that you cannot bake out a pizza because of poor stretchability.

Both a dough that is too strong and too weak are difficult to work with. If we were to describe our perfect pizza dough, it has low elasticity, medium high extensibility and high stretchability. But how do you test the strength in an efficient way?

Spreadtest - What it is and how to do it

The spread test is a concept we use to measure the dough's strength in a more practical way. To do a dough strength test is a great tool for both beginners and experts, because by doing it a few times you learn how an optimal pizza dough should feel. Then you can gradually stop doing it the more confident you become.

The spread test involves taking a 260-gram pizza ball in connection with the dough rolling process and place it in an oven shape that is at least 17x17 cm large. Then plastic wrap the shape and place it next to the other dough balls.

Once approximately 24 hours have passed in total and the volume has increased to about 26 on the rain gauge, the dough in the pan should have a diameter of 14-15 cm for the right strength. If it is a little smaller, that is completely okay, but it should lie somewhere here. Otherwise, something has probably gone wrong!

By knowing the dough's strength on the batch you just made, you can also prepare yourself on how you may need to work differently.

What to do with the result

Adjusting the strength of the dough after doing a spread test can be done in different ways. The most important thing for us is elasticity, and we often hear that people have trouble shaping the dough as it retracts.

If you want to increase the elasticity, you should raise the temperature of the dough, and if you want to lower it, you should cool the dough. In the cases where you have the right strength a little while before baking, it is preserved easiest by putting the dough in the fridge.

On the recipe side, a lot of it is about adjusting up or down the amount of water to get the right result.

Our ambition for the future

A big reason why your dough can turn out so different even when following the same recipe is that different flours differ enormously. Both between different brands, and between bags from the same type!

In the future, the ambition is to always clearly indicate in the shop how a certain flour affects the dough's strength and how to regulate the amount of water to get an even and fine result. We already have guidelines on the water front that you can read in the product descriptions.

Do you have control of the dough strength now?

Hopefully, the subject of dough strength has now cleared up a bit. It is undoubtedly a bit complicated, but it is at the same time what is so fun with pizza - the differences are small and everything is in the details.

Using a spread test is definitely something we recommend to everyone who wants to take their pizza to the next level, as you then learn what a dough should feel like and if you need to do something differently. Even more important it is to get a good flow in the pizza baking.

If you really want to become a pro at this, you should read our book, where everything is explained deeper and with clear examples.

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