Kneading Pizza Dough by hand | Neapolitan Pizza from scratch | Part 2

Ooni Fyra

Kneading pizza dough by hand

Kneading pizza dough by hand is much easier than people think.

In part 2 of this series about making Neapolitan pizza from scratch, I show you exactly how to knead pizza dough by hand. You don’t an electric mixer or anything special. You just need (excuse the pun) your hands and a bowl!

If you missed part 1 on mixing the ingredients you can check it out here. If you want to find out about kneading pizza dough by hand then read on!

Kneading pizza dough video

As well as detailed instructions in this article, I have made a video below to show the kneading technique I like to use. Feel free to check out the video below to see how easy kneading pizza dough by hand really is!

Kneading pizza dough by hand

If you missed it, be sure to check out my previous article in this series on mixing Neapolitan pizza dough. Once you have read that article and watched the video, you’ll be in the perfect place to start kneading!

If you’ve watched the video above and you’re ready for the windowpane test in part 3 then click here. If you want to find out more about kneading pizza dough by hand then read on!

Why knead pizza dough?

The simple answer is that kneading pizza dough makes the dough stronger. A dough that has been kneaded well can be shaped without worrying about whether the dough is going to rip. Weak dough is no fun to work with!

Kneading pizza dough by hand
Kneading pizza dough leads to great pizza!

As well as making pizza dough stronger, kneading also helps to make the dough more stretchy. This makes the pizza much easier to shape. You should be able to work with the dough without fighting it.

Can you knead pizza dough by hand?

In a word, yes! I actually recommend that beginners try kneading by hand. It’s much easier than you probably think it is. Also, kneading by hand will improve your feel for pizza dough very quickly.

Can you knead pizza dough by hand?
Using your hands is an excellent way of working with dough

I find the best way to learn about pizza dough is to get stuck in! Don’t worry about getting your hands messy, it cleans off really easily.

In fact, I find kneading by hand to be quite therapeutic. It’ s also very rewarding knowing that you made your pizza completely by hand!

How to knead pizza dough

The easiest way to knead pizza dough is to use the heel of your hand. With the dough on the counter, press down hard with the heel of your hand. You should be trying to stretch the dough as much as possible as you do this.

How to knead pizza dough
Use the hand part of your hand – the heel

Then gather the dough up and start again. The great thing about this is that it’s super easy! This is no correct technique. Just try to get a feel for it and do what works for you.

Best way to knead pizza dough – the “croissant technique”

The technique that I use in the video at the top of the page is quite easy to do. I call it the croissant method as you roll it up so it looks a bit like a croissant.

Best way to knead pizza dough

The reason I find this technique works so well is that the dough becomes thin as it rolls up. This means that when you do a quarter turn the dough is really easy to knead since it is not very wide or thick.

I see a lot of people kneading the pizza dough into a ball shape but I find this takes a lot more work. Because the dough is so thick, it means you have to use all your strength to stretch the dough.

I therefore only recommend balling the dough at the end of the kneading process.

How to do the “croissant technique”

With one hand (non-dominant hand) pin the nearest end of the dough to the counter. With the heel of the opposite hand, press down on the far side of the dough, stretching it away from you.

Then roll the dough up with your fingers and stretch out the middle of the dough. Repeat this process until you can’t stretch the dough any more.

At this point, turn the dough 45 degrees (quarter turn) and repeat the process.

Turn the dough and keep kneading by hand
Turn the dough (45 degrees) and knead again

Each time you do this you should find the dough becomes easier to stretch. This means your doing a good job of kneading!

Easy kneading technique

If you struggle with the technique I explained above, you can try something called the “fraisage” method. This is another technique that’s borrowed from artisan baking.

Basically you just spread the dough out on the counter as thin as you can using the heel of your hand. Don’t worry if the dough rips as you do it. You can then gather all the dough up and repeat the process.

Using the frisaige technique for kneading pizza dough
The frisaige method

Usually this method is used in bread making when adding fat (such as butter) to the dough. But as well as being useful for adding ingredients, it also kneads the dough at the same time.

I have shown this technique before in another video I made on kneading. Here’s the video below:

About half way through the video I show the frisaige method

If you try this technique you will probably have to spend a little longer on it. However, it is really easy and pretty fool proof. If you find you’re struggling with kneading, give the frisaige a go!

How long should you knead pizza dough?

I hear many people and recipes saying that you should knead for around 10-15 minutes. In my opinion, this is way too long. I recommend kneading your pizza for around 5 minutes. That’s right, just 5 minutes!

The secret is that you should allow your pizza dough to rest before kneading. As soon as you have mixed your ingredients together, let your dough rest for around 30 minutes before kneading.

Check out my previous article in this series – mixing Neapolitan pizza dough – to check out how to mix the ingredients.

Why do you rest pizza dough?

Resting pizza dough before kneading makes the dough softer and stretchier. It makes your job of kneading much easier.

Resting your pizza dough is almost like cheating! It’s that good!

The technical term for this process is called the “autolyse”. It’s a technique commonly used in artisan baking.

The autolyse basically gives the flour time to absorb the water and become a dough. If you skip this stage, you end up spending the first few minutes just working the ingredients together.

Autolyse dough before kneading by hand
The autolyse may sound posh but it’s very simple!

Just be sure to cover your dough well as you let it rest. We don’t want the pizza dough to dry out. I tend to place the dough in a bowl and cover it with a plastic bag. Cling film also works well.

You probably won’t believe how well this simple resting works until you try it! You leave the dough as a shaggy mess and you come back and its lovely and soft and smooth. The dough is wonderful to work with and easy to knead.

Trust me it works!

The Recipe – Hand Kneaded Neapolitan Pizza Dough

  • Makes 4 x 250g pizzas
  • Amount of yeast is for a 20-24 hour prove
  • Assumed room temperature of around 18-20C/65-70F
  • Dry dough (low hydration) allows for easy kneading and shaping
  • Slightly more/less flour can be used as required

Ingredients

With 00 flour:

  • 630g 00 flour
  • 360g water
  • 14g fine salt
  • 0.7g instant dried yeast
  • (57% hydration dough)

With Strong White Bread Flour:

  • 620g 00 flour
  • 370g water
  • 14g fine salt
  • 0.7g instant dried yeast
  • (60% hydration dough)

Method

  1. Roughly mix the ingredients together in a bowl by hand
  2. Cover the dough and leave it to rest for around 30 minutes before you start kneading
  3. Knead the dough on the counter, using the heel of your hand, for around 5 minutes
  4. Cover the dough and leave it to rest for around 30 minutes before moving onto the next step – the windowpane test

And that’s it! Kneading pizza dough by hand is really easy. Check out part 3 here where I show you how to tell if your dough is kneaded enough.

Hand mixed Neapolitan pizza dough

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Final thoughts on Kneading Pizza Dough by hand…

Kneading pizza dough is really easy, it just takes a little practice. Give this method a go and you may be surprised how well it works. And how easy it is!

Kneading by hand produces a wonderful pizza dough
Kneading by hand produces a wonderful pizza dough

Click here to check out part 3 where I show you how to tell if your dough is kneaded enough.

If you missed part 1, check it out here. I provide a great Neapolitan pizza recipe and I discus the ingredients you need and how to mix them together before kneading.

If you’re interested in founding out more about the autolyse – the resting stage, there’s a short article on bakerpedia here which goes into more detail.

Now let’s get kneading!

Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

Ooni Pizza Ovens
Tom Rothwell's Ooni pizza oven

My Pizza Oven

I often get asked what type of oven I use for my pizzas. Well, I use a pizza oven made by a company called Ooni.

The range of pizza ovens that Ooni offers is just brilliant. They cover all bases, and all price points. There's affordable and portable models such as the Fyra 12 Pizza Oven and then there's state-of-the-art models such as the Karu 16 Pizza Oven pictured below.

In all honesty, I would say that the oven makes a huge difference. If you're looking to make authentic Italian pizza, a pizza oven is a must.

Pizza cooked in Ooni pizza oven

By clicking the link below and purchasing from Ooni, you would be supporting this website. I've been using their ovens for a long time now and I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't believe in their products.

Time to make some amazing pizza!

K16 - US
Comments
  1. Avatar for Henry Henry says:

    This is such an amazing site – thanks Tom! I made the best pizza I have ever eaten thanks to your instructions. I’m cooking it by getting a cast iron saucepan really hot and cooking the dough in this for two minutes (adding topping after one minute), then putting the whole thing under a very hot grill for a further two minutes and it comes out beautifully. It looks very nearly as good as the ones in your photos! Worth a try for those who don’t have access to a dedicated pizza oven.
    I’m really looking forward to the next video in the pizza school series!

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Henry. Thank you so much for the positive feedback. I’m glad the recipes are working out for you!

      You can check out part 3 of the series – the windowpane test – here.

      Well done with the pizzas, keep up the good work!

  2. Ooni Karu
  3. Avatar for Verena Verena says:

    Hi Tom,

    this site is so great! I just watched all of your videos on Youtube and I think I‘m ready to go now. Is the dough resting at room temperature or in the fridge?

    Best regards from Germany,
    Verena

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Hi Verena, thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you’re finding it all useful!

      Everything in this recipe takes place out of the fridge at room temperature.

      Good luck in Germany!

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