If your pizza dough is not kneaded properly, you will not get the texture that is associated with this type of dough. In short, your dough should be stretchy yet well held together to produce pizza breads that are chewy, light, airy and delicious. However, many people are not sure when their dough is ready but the window pane test is a useful tool to make sure that the dough is well developed.
In this article, we are going to be explained everything you need to know about making pizza bread dough and testing it to see if it will pass the windowpane test.
What Is The Windowpane Test?
When you are kneading bread, there is a right amount of time that this need to be done but the type of bread you are kneading will determine this. For pizza dough, this is usually about eight to ten minutes, at which point, your dough recipe should be ready to undergo then windowpane stage to see if the dough is ready to be baked into a delicious pizza.
How To Do The Windowpane Test
Doing the windowpane test is not difficult and takes just a few moments and is the best thing to help you test the final results of your pizza dough recipes.
To begin with, you will need to take a dough ball that is around the size of a golf ball – not not a huge amount of dough. You will need to flatten this dough out and then take hold of it using your thumb and first two fingers and gently stretch it out. If the golf ball-sized piece of dough stretches out easily then it has passed the windowpane check. You will notice how the dough appears like a thin membrane. This membrane should not break so if the bread dough tears, you will need to knead the dough some more.
It is important to remember that the windowpane test is better suited to finer flour or high-protein flour. When it is used with gritty flours or whole wheat flour, you will find that the bread dough does not pass the windowpane test.
What Does Kneading Do?
When you have put all of your bread dough ingredients into the mix, it is not enough to simply shape it ready for cooking. A good baker knows that the dough will need kneading. There are doughs that are sold as no-knead doughs but if you are making your own dough, it will need kneading.
However, in order to understand the importance of kneading dough, you must get to grips with gluten and how it performs. Gluten is a product that forms as a result of mixing together the main ingredients of pizza bread dough; flour, water, sugar, yeast, salt and sometimes something with a bit of fat like oil. When the flour and water combine, this causes a reaction that makes a gluten network.
This network of gluten is vital to the overall structure of the dough and helps to create a dough that is strong an elastic and that can capture the air bubbles produced when undergoing bulk fermentation. Bulk fermentation is simply allowing the dough to rise and if you do not bulk ferment, your food will not have that light and fluffy texture that you expect. During this process, small bubbles of gas will form and these gas bubble cause the dough to visibly rise which is everything if you are making a thick crust dish.
Back to the gluten network; when you knead the dough, you are helping these gluten strands to develop. Gluten development is essential in forming a dough that is strong and as you knead, these gluten strands are put into a more orderly fashion.
What Happens If I Don't Knead Enough?
If you have done the windowpane test on dough that has not been kneaded enough, you will notice that it is much harder and will not stretch as easily, this is because the gluten has not had enough time or help to develop.
When you are kneading dough, you will do so using flour and if this flour is not kneaded into the rest of the dough enough, it can cause the mixture to dry out and will mess up the flour to water ratio. The hydration of the dough is an essential factor in these types of recipes and should not be ignored but you will face a problem with this if you have not kneaded enough.
What Happens If I Knead My Dough Too Much?
Conversly, it is entirely possible to overdo your kneading techniques and this can have the opposite effect on your end result. Dough that has been kneaded too much will be a lot weaker as the gluten has over-developed and this will leave you with something that is sloppy and oftentimes, unusable.
However, you will also notice that when its come time to shape your dough, you will have difficult in doing so and even if you are successful, you will likely end up with bread that is hard, dense and not very tasty.
You will notice with both under-kneaded and over-kneaded doughs that when performing the windowpane test, the food will break or tear easily.
How To Knead
To get the best result, everything in the pizza recipe list needs to be followed to the letter, and this includes the need to knead your dough. You can do this by hand or with a mixer. Take a look at our top tips for dough that will always pass the windowpane check.
- Make sure that you apply a generous dusting of flour onto the surface on which you will be doing the technique.
- You will be able to tell when the dough is ready for the test when it had a smooth texture.
- Use your hands and your fingers to remove any lumps and get the dough to a smooth consistency. To knead effectively, you should press and roll the dough, mainly using the palms of the hands.
- Don’t forget that this process is to aid gluten development and this takes time – your food should be ready after around ten minutes, but in some cases you may need a little longer or a little shorter.
There is not denying that making pizza takes some trial and error but what many people fail to realise is that if you do not knead, then this could cause the final result to lack in strength, and you may end up with a not very pleasant texture.
The best way to check whether your dough is ready to be cooked is to perform what is commonly referred to as the windowpane test. This method requires you to hold the dough and gently stretch it. If it does so easily, it’s ready to bake!