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Working with High Hydration Dough

Working with high-hydration pizza dough requires masting a couple of techniques you don’t need when making pizza dough at less than 60% hydration. The issue you need to address is learning how to make great dough without having everything stick to your hands, to your work surface and your bowls, and without having to add a lot of extra flour to your dough to keep it from sticking, which changes the hydration, quality and texture of your dough.

Here are a couple of good tips.

  1. Use a glass bowl for mixing. It sticks less than stainless steel.
  2. Keep your hands really wet. Don’t use any flour to stop the dough fro sticking.
  3. If you are using active, rather than instant yeast, be sure to hydrate your yeas before adding flour. You want your wet dough as active and strong as possible.
  4. Folding your dough, rather than kneading it in a stand mixer or on a board to develop gluten. Do a series of 1/3 letter folds, rotating the dough 90º to the right each time to get a good laminate gluten structure.
  5. Keep your dough off the work surface. By folding, you can make great dough without using any flour to keep your dough from sticking to the work surface.
  6. Be gentle when shaping. The shaping and baking stages require special attention due to the dough’s wetter and thinner nature. Remember to avoid prolonged counter exposure if the dough has been refrigerated, to use flour judiciously to maintain the flavor and texture of your dough (adding a lot of flour working with your dough will change its hydration), and transfer the shaped dough onto parchment paper for easier oven transfer.
  7. Chill dough overnight. When dough undergoes this process, a once shaggy dough is transformed into a firmer consistency with better flavor and a well-developed surface. Additionally, refrigerating dough offers scheduling flexibility for the baking process.
  8. Don’t leave a chilled dough on the counter too long before baking.