The Role of Humidity in Pizza Dough 

When it comes to making pizza dough, there’s loads of things that can influence the final crust, including the ingredients, temperature and even humidity, which refers to the amount of moisture present in the air, In short, humidity can pose challenges for dough preparation and affect the texture,  consistency and general grooviness of your pizza.

Here, we’ll explore the problems that humidity can cause in pizza dough and provide you with practical steps to overcome them, to help ensure your dough turns out perfectly groovy, regardless of environmental conditions.

The Effects of Humidity on Pizza Dough

Humidity can significantly impact pizza dough due to its effect on the flour and more specifically, the hydration level of the dough, not to gluten development. Here are a few pizza problems that can arise in humid environments:

Excessive Moisture Absorption

In high humidity, dough naturally tends to absorb more moisture from the air, leading to a wetter and stickier dough consistency. This can make it challenging to handle and shape the dough, resulting in a less desirable texture and difficulty achieving the desired thickness or shape.

Slower Rising

Humid conditions can slow down the yeast activity in dough, leading to a longer fermentation process. The extended rising time may result in an overproofed dough, causing it to become too airy, lacking structure, and potentially collapsing during baking.

Weakened Gluten Structure

Gluten, the protein responsible for dough elasticity and structure, can be affected by excess moisture. Humidity can weaken the gluten structure, making it difficult to achieve a well-developed dough with good stretchability and a chewy texture.

Overcoming Humidity Challenges

While it’s impossible to control the humidity in your environment, there are practical steps you can take to mitigate its effects on pizza dough. Consider the following strategies:

Adjust the Dough Hydration

In humid conditions, you may need to reduce the amount of water or other liquid in your pizza dough recipe. Start with a slightly drier dough by using less water, and gradually add more as needed until you achieve the desired consistency. It’s crucial to strike a balance between a dough that is hydrated enough for proper gluten development and one that is not overly sticky or wet.

Increase Flour Amount

When faced with a high-humidity environment, consider increasing the amount of flour in your dough recipe. Additional flour will help absorb excess moisture and create a more manageable dough. Add flour gradually until you achieve a dough that is easier to work with, without becoming too dry.

Monitor Fermentation Time

Due to the slower fermentation caused by humidity, it’s essential to keep a close eye on your dough during the rising process. Check the dough regularly and adjust the rising time accordingly. Be patient and allow the dough to rise fully before proceeding to the next steps of shaping and topping the pizza.

Control Temperature and Proofing Conditions

To compensate for the slower rising in humid conditions, you might want to create a warm(er) environment for proofing. If so, choose a warm spot in your kitchen or use a proofing box or oven with a proofing function to maintain the ideal temperature for fermentation. Consider aiming for a temperature between 24°C and 29°C (75°F – 85°F) to encourage proper yeast activity.

Practice Proper Dough Handling

When working with a stickier dough, lightly flour your hands, the work surface, and any tools you use to minimise sticking. Avoid adding excessive flour, as it can alter the dough’s hydration and texture. You can dust lightly if you really want to, but this’ll still change the hydration level, so maybe just try focusing on getting used to handling sticky dough.

In Summary

Humidity can present challenges when making pizza dough, affecting its texture, rise, and gluten development. However, with a few adjustments and careful attention to the dough’s flour, hydration, fermentation, and handling, you can overcome these challenges and achieve excellent results even in a humid environment.

By adjusting the dough’s hydration and/or increasing the amount of flour, you can create a dough that is easier to handle and shape. Monitoring the fermentation time and providing a warm and controlled proofing environment will help ensure proper yeast activity and rising (although cold-fermentation provides better flavour). 

Additionally, practicing proper dough handling techniques, should reduce sticking without compromising the dough’s hydration. It’s important to note that different pizza dough recipes may respond differently to humidity. It’s advisable to experiment and adjust your techniques, which is easier to do when you understand the basics of making pizza dough.

Overall, humidity isn’t exactly something to worry about as a beginner pizza maker, but there are such things called humidity sensors, if you’re really serious about pizza. So, don’t let humidity deter you from enjoying your pizza party – instead, embrace the challenge and enjoy the process of learning how to make truly groovy pizza…