Let the ball of pizza dough rise. Let the dough rise 30 minutes to a few hours before working with it. This means, take it out of the fridge and put it in a sunny window so it gently heats up. I learned that trick from my mom growing up. When we were out running errands, she would give me money to run in and buy a few balls of pizza dough from one of our favorite Italian bakeries in town. For the rest of our errands, the dough would sit on the car dashboard and rise beautifully.
Prepare the surface. When the dough is nice and plump, almost bursting out of the bag, it’s time to roll. Before you start stretching pizza dough by hand, add about half the flour to a large cutting board and spread it around the board so there is a very light layer of flour on the surface. This prevents the dough from sticking to the board.
Lightly coat the pizza dough in flour. Add the raw pre-made pizza dough ball on top of the flour. Flip it over so both sides are lightly coated with flour.
Learn how to use flour when stretching pizza dough. This is its own step, because it so important to learn how to use flour properly for working with pizza dough and getting it to form a rectangle or circle shape. Before we go on to the next steps of hand stretching pizza dough, please note that a little bit of flour goes a long way. Flour is your best friend while stretching pizza dough, but only in small amounts. The rest of the flour left after covering the cutting board (about a half tablespoon) should be plenty as you go on to the next steps of stretching the dough. You’ll be adding light dustings of flour to the dough as it stretches, which will prevent the dough from sticking to itself, and shrinking back up into a ball. A little flour helps the dough retain its shape for these stretching techniques. That’s why you’ll see me working it into the dough whenever I stretch the dough in a new direction in the video.
Pinch the dough. Stretch the dough first by pinching the outside 1” in a circular motion to spread it out. This is forming the crust area. I picked up this tip from Chef Hubs who worked in a pizza parlor. You can pick up a little pinch of flour here and there as you pinch the dough. The dough will be sticky, then you’ll pinch with floured fingertips, and it will make that area less sticky and keep it opened up. Once you’ve gone 1-2x around the perimeter of the pizza dough, and the dough starts to open up into a larger shape, it’s time to move inside
Push the inside. Stretch the inside of the pizza dough by pushing it against the cutting board from the center, expanding to the edge of the dough. You’ll do this for about a minute, or a dozen or so times, dusting your fingers with flour as you work so the dough keeps its growing shape. You’ll know this step is done when the shape of the dough doubles in width. The dough should start thinning out from a ball to a crust shape.
Lastly, picking up the dough and using knuckles. Here’s my favorite part - the grand finale. I like to pick up dough and use my knuckles for the final stretch. It always expands the dough to the right shape. To do this, make two fists and rest the half-stretched pizza dough on top of your knuckles. Expand the shape of the dough by stretching out your fists to widen your hands. Do this a few times, moving your hands outwards from the center. Add flour if needed. If you’re making a round pizza, keep rotating the dough in a circle as you stretch it. For a rectangle or free form pizza shape, keep stretching the dough in one direction so it becomes oblong. At this point, the dough should be fully stretched and ready to par bake for homemade pizza or grilled pizza.