Pizza dough may not rise due to issues with yeast, insufficient kneading, or incorrect temperature. To fix this, ensure you’re using fresh yeast and the proper amount, knead the dough for up to 20 minutes, and maintain ideal proofing temperatures (73-75°F).
If the dough still doesn’t rise, place it in a warmer location, add more yeast, or knead it more thoroughly.
🤔Here’s Why Your Pizza Dough Didn’t Rise?
Incorrect proofing is the most common reason behind inadequate dough rising. This can happen due to the water being too hot or not having enough yeast in the dough. Using expired yeast is another fairly common reason. Insufficient proofing time or low ambient temperature can be the culprit too.
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So, are you ready to learn how to revive your flat dough? Stick with me, and I’ll walk you through the steps to get your pizza dough rising like a pro.
📋Pizza Dough Didn’t Rise? Here Are All the Possible Reasons
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re dealing with the frustrating issue of non-rising pizza dough. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. But before you give up and order takeout, let’s take a closer look at all the possible reasons why your dough didn’t rise.
1. The Water Is Too Either Too Hot (or Not Hot Enough)
The water temperature you use to activate the yeast is a crucial factor in getting your pizza dough to rise properly. If the water is too hot, it will kill off those tiny creatures. And if it’s not hot enough, the yeast won’t activate in the first place.
So how do you ensure the water temperature is just correct?
Well, you can use a thermometer to measure the water temperature and aim for a range of 100-110°F (38-43°C) for active dry yeast. If you don’t have a thermometer, No worries.
You can always count on the good old-fashioned fingertip test. Just dip the tip of your (clean) finger into the water. It should feel warm but not hot to the touch.
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I remember when I first started making pizza, I used to heat up the water until it was almost boiling, thinking that it would help activate the yeast faster. But boy, was I wrong! After hours of waiting for the dough to rise, it was still as flat as a pancake.
After some trials and tribulations, I finally found a foolproof water heating method for this purpose. Just heat the water in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. Take it out and let it sit for a minute or two to reach the ideal temperature.
2. Not Enough Yeast in the Dough
Another reason why your pizza dough may not be rising is that there isn’t enough yeast in the dough. Yeast fermentation is a process where the yeast in pizza dough consumes sugars and produces carbon dioxide gas as a byproduct.
This gas gets trapped in the dough, causing it to expand and rise. Without enough yeast, your dough would be sad and flat.
However, that doesn’t mean adding extra yeast will make the issue disappear. Too much yeast equals a sticky, stinky, extremely bubbly excuse for a pizza dough.
The solution obviously is to keep the yeast-to-flour ratio just right. My recipe calls for just 1/2 teaspoon of active dry yeast per 500 grams of pizza flour. I let the yeast do their thing for 48 hours in the fridge. Longer proofing time develops better flavor and helps with even browning.
3. You’re Using Expired Yeast
Yeast, like all living things, has a limited shelf life. Over time, the yeast cells in a package become less active and eventually die off. This means that if you use expired yeast in your dough, there may not be enough live yeast cells to cause the dough to rise.
To ensure that your yeast is still active, always check the expiration date before using it. Even if it’s only a few days past the expiration date, it’s best to err on the side of caution and use fresh yeast.
One quick way to test if your yeast is still active is to mix it with warm water and sugar and let it sit for a few minutes. If it’s still good, the mixture will become foamy and bubbly, indicating that the yeast is alive and kicking.
Using expired yeast can also affect the flavor of the dough. As the yeast cells die off, they release enzymes that break down the proteins and sugars in the dough. This can lead to a bitter or off-flavor in the finished product.
4. Ambient Temperature Is Low
Did everything correctly, but still no luck? Here’s another probable reason why your pizza dough didn’t rise as expected:
Remember, yeast thrives in warm and moist environments? If it’s too cold, it won’t be able to do its job properly.
To give your dough the best chance to rise, make sure to proof it at room temperature, which is around 75°F to 78°F (23-25 degrees C). At this temperature, the dough can double in size in 1-2 hours, which is the ideal amount of time for the first stage of proofing.
However, if your house is cold, it can take anywhere between 4-6 hours for the same.
I’ve got a handy tip to work around this problem. All you need to do is put the dough in the oven in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel at the lowest temperature setting for about an hour or until the dough doubles up in size.
This will create a warm and moist environment that’ll help the yeast to activate and do its magic.
5. Not Enough Proofing Time
The next time your dough isn’t rising as it should, take a step back and ask yourself: did I give it enough time to proof?
Proofing, or allowing the dough to rest and rise before baking, is one of the most important steps in the pizza-making process. If you rush through the proofing stage, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Depending on the recipe, you may need to proof your dough from anywhere between 1-3 hours at room temperature to 3-5 days in the fridge.
I get it that most people don’t have the time to patience to wait for a couple of days to have their pizza ready. But unless you are in a huge hurry, let the dough sit at room temp for 20 minutes, and then, cold ferment in the fridge overnight. Aim for up to 24 hours of cold fermentation for best results.
Make sure to take the dough out of the fridge for at least an hour or two before baking.
6. Not Kneading the Dough Enough
Kneading is the process of developing a gluten network in the dough, which is essential for its rise. If you don’t knead the dough enough, the gluten network will not develop properly. And the dough won’t be able to hold the gas produced by the yeast. This will result in a flat, non-rising pizza.
So, how much kneading is enough? Well, that depends on the type of dough you’re making and the equipment you’re using. If you’re kneading the dough by hand, you should knead it for at least 10 to 15 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic.
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You can test the dough by stretching a small piece of it between your fingers. If it tears easily, it needs more kneading.
On the other hand, if you’re using a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can knead the dough for about 6 to 8 minutes on medium speed, until it forms a smooth, slightly tacky ball.
🕵️If My Dough Didn’t Rise, Can I Still Use It?
Duds happen, especially when you are attempting something as complex as making a pizza from scratch. There are lots of variables here that can make or break your pie.
If your pizza dough fell flat due to dead yeast or short rising time, here are a few things you can do to salvage it:
- Put the dough in a container and place it in a warm water bath for an hour. This should get the yeast giggling, as long as they aren’t dead.
- If they are dead or you haven’t used enough yeast in the dough, incorporate more yeast into the dough. Just activate the same amount of yeast the recipe calls for. Then work it into the dough by kneading thoroughly.
- If you didn’t initially knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, knead it until the dough feels smooth and spongy.
- But what if nothing seems to work? Well, if you enjoy a super thin, cracker-like crust, you can always just go ahead and bake the non-risen dough. It might not be what you were hoping for, but it can still be delicious in its own way.
Remember, pizza making is all about experimentation and finding what works for you. Don’t get discouraged if your pizza dough didn’t rise. It happens to even the most experienced bakers in the world. And as with any skill, practice makes perfect.
Now, tell me, have you ever had a flat dough disaster? How did you salvage it?
Tim Anderson is the founder of pizzapeopleaz® and has been in the pizza industry since 1998. Since then, his mission has been to make a pizza lover’s guy into a personal pizzaiolo. And each year, he continues to help more people with Pizza chemistry, pizza Crust, pizza oven, and oven troubleshooting.