Making our 72-hour dough is relatively easy, simple in fact. The most challenging part comes after the 24 hour bulk ferment or 72-hour cold ferment and that's when we ball it up. Or make our dough balls. The reason we are folding our dough is to strengthen the protein threads inside the dough. By folding the dough together we are trapping the carbon dioxide and the alcohol created by the yeast. The step is pretty critical in the dough making process, think air pockets and air bubbles. And if you want to make your pizza legendary at home, you need to master making your dough balls.
Remember when you are handling the pizza dough to be gentle. I can't emphasize this enough. We are just folding the dough together, keeping the gluten strands in tack and then sealing the ball so the all the gasses will stay inside. If we skipped this step, our dough would be far to slack and would not shape or form into anything.
To master the final proof, our dough balls are made after our pizza dough has cold fermented for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Simply remove the bulk of dough from your fridge and follow the instructions below or as seen in the video above. Ideally the pizza dough will rest covered for 4-5 hours the day you are going to make pizza....
We highly recommend following these steps even if you purchased your pizza dough from a local market. Chances are if your dough doesn't stretch properly, or you are creating a lot of holes as you stretch, it wasn't "balled" properly. This is a step often overlooked or skipped entirely in the dough making process.
1. Generously dust both sides of the dough with your bread flour.
2. Place dough portion between your hands and fold in the edges by pressing them into the center of the dough. This is going to be the seam side. The opposite side should look smooth and seamless.
3. With the seam side facing away from you, rotate the ball ninety degrees. Gather and fold the edges into the center of the dough again.
4. Repeat this process about 25-35 times. Each time the portion gets more and more taught. Be careful to be firm but not aggressive, try and not tear the gluten strands.
5. Place the smooth side in your palm and swiftly pinch the seam closed. This is the part where we trap all the carbon dioxide inside the ball. Be aggressive with the pinch.
6. Let them rest at room temp for 4-5 hours covered. To cover place on a sheet tray or a smooth surface and gently cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth.
Now that you have mastered your dough balls at home, do you have our secret weapon?