Mastering the Art of Shortening in Pizza Dough: Tips and Tricks

Shortening has long been a staple in baking, especially when it comes to pizza dough. It’s unique properties make it an essential ingredient for achieving that perfect balance of fluffiness and crispiness that pizza enthusiasts crave. However, should you choose to substitute it with butter or oil, you may find that the resulting dough lacks the desired lightness and texture, becoming instead flat and dense. While this may not be ideal for every pizza lover, experimenting with butter as a potential substitute could provide an alternative solution.

What Is the Function of Shortening in Pizza Dough?

Shortening plays a crucial role in pizza dough by enhancing it’s texture and ease of handling. It’s function goes beyond just adding fat to the dough. When shortening, also known as a “plastic” fat, is used in the pan, it serves as a medium for the dough to adhere to. This adhesive property is what makes it significantly easier to hand-form the dough into the desired shape and size.

As the dough sticks to the shortening, it remains in place, allowing it to rest and fully unwind from the tension created during the mixing and kneading process. This relaxation is vital for achieving a light and airy crust, as it allows the gluten in the dough to relax, resulting in a more tender texture.

Furthermore, shortening assists in providing moisture to the dough. It acts as a barrier between the dough and the pan, preventing excessive evaporation and retaining moisture within the dough. This moisture is essential to maintain the doughs hydration during the baking process, resulting in a moist and soft crust.

The fat content in shortening adds richness to the dough, imparting a pleasant and satisfying taste. It also aids in creating that desired characteristic crispness on the outside, while still maintaining a soft and chewy interior.

It acts as an adhesive to help shape and form the dough, allows for relaxation and gluten development, retains moisture, enhances flavor, and creates desirable texture.

The Different Types of Shortening and Their Effects on Pizza Dough

  • Butter: When butter is used as a shortening in pizza dough, it adds richness and a subtle buttery flavor to the crust. It makes the dough soft and slightly tender.
  • Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil is a common shortening used in pizza dough. It helps to keep the crust moist and gives it a light and airy texture.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is another popular shortening option for pizza dough. It adds a distinct flavor to the crust and gives it a crispy texture.
  • Shortening: Traditional shortening, such as Crisco, can also be used in pizza dough. It provides a flaky and tender texture to the crust.
  • Lard: Lard is a traditional shortening made from pig fat. It gives the pizza dough a rich and savory flavor and a crispy texture.

When it comes to stretching pizza dough, achieving the perfect elasticity is key. If you find your dough constantly snapping back or resisting your efforts, chances are it’s a bit too tight. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution: cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. This short period allows the gluten in the dough to relax, making it much easier to stretch to the desired shape and size.

What Makes Pizza Dough Stretch Easier?

When it comes to making pizza dough, achieving the perfect stretch is essential for creating the ideal crust. If you find that your dough is snapping back or proving difficult to stretch, chances are your dough is too tight. Rest assured, there’s a simple solution to this predicament. Simply cover your dough with some plastic wrap and let it sit for around 10-15 minutes. This rest period allows the gluten in the dough to relax, making the stretching process much easier.

You may be wondering, what exactly is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat flour, and it forms the framework that gives bread and pizza dough it’s structure. When the dough is initially mixed, the gluten strands are tight and not yet fully developed. As the dough rests, the gluten relaxes and lengthens, making the dough more elastic and easier to shape.

The yeast ferments the sugars in the dough, producing carbon dioxide gas, which in turn creates air bubbles in the dough. These air bubbles help to give the dough it’s light and airy texture.

In addition to the rest period, it’s also essential to handle the dough gently when stretching it. By carefully stretching the dough from the center outwards, you can evenly distribute the gluten strands, ensuring a uniform and smooth texture. It’s advisable to avoid overworking the dough, as this can lead to tough and chewy crusts.

Finally, it’s important to note that the type of flour used can also affect the elasticity of the dough. High-gluten flour, which contains a greater concentration of protein, will naturally produce a dough that’s more elastic and easier to stretch. So, if you consistently find yourself struggling with dough that snaps back, you may want to experiment with different types of flour to achieve the desired results.

So, next time you embark on a pizza-making adventure, remember to give your dough a little time to rest and relax, and youll be well on your way to pizza perfection.

Tips for Achieving the Perfect Pizza Crust

  • Use high-quality flour
  • Measure ingredients accurately
  • Mix dough properly to develop gluten
  • Let dough rise at the right temperature
  • Preheat oven and use a pizza stone or baking steel
  • Stretch dough evenly and to desired thickness
  • Add toppings sparingly to prevent a soggy crust
  • Bake at a high temperature for a short time
  • Let the pizza rest before slicing
  • Experiment with different flours and dough recipes
  • Practice and refine your technique over time

To achieve a perfectly puffed pizza crust, there’s a simple technique that can make all the difference. By adjusting the sheeting rolls and hand-stretching the dough, you can create a puffy edge that adds an extra element of deliciousness to your homemade pizzas. Let’s take a closer look at how this process works.

How Do You Make Pizza Crust Puff Up?

Making pizza crust puff up is a desired outcome for many pizza lovers, as it adds a light and airy texture to the overall eating experience. There are several techniques that can be employed to achieve this desired result.

One technique is to adjust the sheeting rolls when rolling out the dough. When making a pizza skin with a 12″ diameter, you can adjust the sheeting rolls to give a finished diameter of 8″ to 9″. This slightly smaller size allows for the dough to puff up when baking, resulting in a thicker and more airy crust.

Once the dough is rolled out to the desired size, place it on a floured surface and gently stretch it to it’s full diameter. This stretching process helps to create tension in the dough, which aids in puffing up the crust during baking. It also helps to create the characteristic puffy edge that many pizza enthusiasts enjoy.

Using high heat is another important factor in achieving a puffed up crust. Preheating your oven to a high temperature, such as 450°F or 500°F, helps to create the necessary conditions for the dough to rapidly rise and expand. The intense heat causes the water in the dough to turn into steam, which lifts and puffs up the crust, resulting in a light and airy texture.

Choosing the right type of flour can also have an impact on the puffiness of your pizza crust. Opting for bread flour, which has a higher protein content compared to all-purpose flour, can help create a higher rise and more puffiness in your crust. The extra protein provides additional structure to the dough, allowing it to hold more air and expand during baking.

These materials retain and distribute heat more evenly than a regular baking sheet, resulting in a more consistent bake. The heat absorption and transfer help to quickly puff up the crust, while also ensuring that it cooks evenly throughout.

Adjusting the sheeting rolls, hand-stretching the dough, using high heat, choosing the right flour, and utilizing a pizza stone or baking steel all play a role in achieving a light and airy crust.

The Effects of Using Different Types of Fats (Olive Oil, Butter, or Vegetable Oil) on Crust Puffiness

  • Using olive oil can result in a lighter and more airy crust puffiness.
  • Butter tends to create a denser and richer texture in the crust.
  • Vegetable oil can lead to a slightly crisp and flaky crust puffiness.

Once your dough is at room temperature, it becomes more pliable and easier to stretch. To prevent sticking, make sure to sprinkle some flour on your work surface before you begin stretching the dough.

Is It Better to Stretch Pizza Dough Cold or Room Temp?

When it comes to preparing pizza dough, one crucial factor to consider is whether to stretch it cold or at room temperature. The most obvious advantage is the ease of working with warm dough. Cold dough tends to be stiff and less pliable, making it more difficult to stretch and shape. By bringing the dough to room temperature, it becomes softer and more elastic, allowing for effortless manipulation.

To ensure a smooth stretching process, it’s essential to prepare your work surface appropriately. Sprinkling a light layer of flour on your workspace prevents the dough from sticking and tearing as you stretch it. The flour acts as a barrier between the dough and the surface, allowing for smooth, continuous movements.

Furthermore, warm dough reacts better to fermentation and yeast activity. The yeast ferments more effectively, leading to increased dough rise and a more flavorful end product. This enhanced fermentation process contributes to a tastier pizza crust with a depth of flavor that distinguishes it from a hastily prepared cold dough.

Allowing your dough to warm up brings numerous benefits that ultimately translate into a more enjoyable and delicious homemade pizza. So, next time you prepare your pizza dough, be sure to give it some time to come to room temperature, and prepare yourself for a pizza experience like no other.

It’s common for bakers to wonder whether shortening can be used as a substitute for oil in pizza dough. The answer is yes, shortening can indeed be used instead of oil, and the switch is relatively simple. When making this substitution, it’s important to use an equal amount of shortening as the quantity of oil called for in the recipe. However, if you’re considering replacing oil with butter or margarine, it’s vital to increase the amount by 20 percent (1/5) to retain the same overall fat content.

Can I Use Shortening Instead of Oil in Pizza Dough?

When it comes to making pizza dough, many recipes call for the use of oil as a key ingredient. However, if you find yourself without oil on hand, a suitable substitute could be shortening. Substituting shortening for oil in pizza dough is a viable option, as long as you make a few adjustments to the recipe.

To replace oil with shortening, you’d typically use an equal amount of shortening as the amount of oil called for in the original recipe. This means that if the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of oil, you’d use 2 tablespoons of shortening instead. However, keep in mind that shortening has a higher melting point than oil, so it may take a bit longer to incorporate into the dough.

On the other hand, if you wanted to substitute oil with butter or margarine, you’d need to use 20 percent (or 1/5) more butter or margarine than the amount of oil specified in the recipe. This is because butter and margarine contain a higher percentage of water compared to oil, and this extra moisture needs to be compensated for in the dough. For example, if the recipe requires 2 tablespoons of oil, you’d use 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons of butter or margarine.

It’s important to note that using shortening or butter instead of oil may result in a slightly different texture and flavor in the final product. Oil tends to create a more tender and moist crumb, while shortening can contribute to a flakier texture. Butter can add a rich and buttery taste, whereas margarine might result in a milder flavor. Experimentation and personal preference will help guide you in finding the best substitute for oil in your pizza dough.

However, keep in mind that flavor, texture, and melting properties may vary when using different substitutes, so adjusting the recipe accordingly and experimenting will lead to the desired outcome.

Comparisons Between Using Shortening, Butter, Margarine, and Oil in Pizza Dough

  • Shortening
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Oil


While substituting shortening with butter or oil may result in a flatter and denser dough, it’s worth experimenting with butter to see if it can provide a satisfactory alternative. Ultimately, the choice of ingredients in pizza dough preparation depends on personal preference and desired outcome, but understanding the impact of different ingredients can empower individuals to experiment and tailor their pizza dough to their liking.

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