I’m sure there’s a more official name for it but I’ll call it the hand stretch. There’s also the slap hand, knuckle stretch, and toss, but I’ll leave those for another day. Regardless of the method you use a few items to always keep in mind to stretch the dough properly. I’ve include a video after the break, but here the key things to remember.
First, remember that the dough ball is a combination of dough and air. The yeast in the dough has eaten away and releasing carbon dioxide into the dough ball. Your goal when stretching the dough is to keep all the carbon dioxide in the dough, but push it to the crust.
Next, it’s important to flour your surface and the dough to make sure things don’t get sticky. But be careful not to over-flour otherwise you’ll have flour on your finished pizza. It’s never a good experience to bite into a slice and get flour all over yourself. Watch the video to see how I flour the surface and dough.
Now almost all stretching methods start out the same way – push the air to the edges of the dough ball. Using your fingertips push the air from the center of the dough ball to the edge (leaving about 1/4″ of the edge for the crust). Using an 8 oz. dough ball, you should get the dough stretched out to about 8″ by doing this.
Once you’ve got the air pushed to the edges, use your left hand as a guide by placing it to the edge of the dough. Using your right hand, pull the dough out from the center slightly and then turn the dough. Repeat this process until the dough is about 12″ in diameter.
If you’re a visual learner, watch the video below to see how I stretch dough: