If you want to make pizza but don’t have a rolling pin to get that dough ball into a base, then do no fear. There are still some ways you can easily make pizza at home. Here are some ways to get your dough rolled out so you can top the pizza.
How to make pizza without a rolling pin:
- Stretch it by hand
- Roll it with a wine bottle or other substitute
- Make pizza in a sheet pan
- Make pizza in a skillet
Follow my recipe for pizza dough to make a perfect dough ball to start with. Read on for some details on how to shape it, with some tips on stretching and how to make different styles of pizza.
My best tip for making pizza in a home oven is using a pizza “steel”. This adds intense heat from below like a brick oven would – I have this steel from Amazon which is significantly lower priced than the original brand, but works perfectly. Steel is more conductive than stone so transfers more heat, they don’t shatter and they are easier to clean. If it’s out of your price range then the 2nd best option is a pizza stone made from cordierite. To see a round-up of the most important pizza equipment then see my essential pizza equipment list.
Stretch By Hand
Stretching by hand actually makes better pizzas than rolling it out. It’s easier than you think, and you don’t need to do any technical tossing in the air. It’s all done on a worktop with some flour.
The pizza is better because it keeps small pockets of air in the dough. Rolling the dough forcefully pushes all the air out. This makes the pizza more dense.
Stretching by hand allows you to be more gentle with the dough, keeping the gas which has built up from yeast activity. This air keeps the dough lighter, and allows it to cook evenly making it crisper and better textured.
Stretching doesn’t have to be perfect, and the pizza doesn’t have to be completely round. The key is getting it just thin enough.
How To Stretch As A Beginner
To stretch as a beginner, firstly cover your worktop with a few handfuls of flour. Take a dough ball and cover it completely with flour then push the dough from the center to the outside with your finger tips. This pushes any large air bubbles to the crust. Remember to keep a half inch gap around the rim for the crust. And keep the center a little thicker – the base stretches from the center outwards so is a prime area for thin tearing.
Once it is large enough, pick it up and drape it over your fists. Pull them apart to stretch the dough outwards. Rotate the dough as you go so that every area is even. This method gets even the most elastic of dough to stretch out nicely, and is super easy to do!
Hold the dough to the light to spot any thinner parts and stretch these less. Stretch until a 12 or 14″ size. Beginners typically under stretch so take it a little further that you would think to. A good dough should be able to stretch thin without breaking.
Here is a video to help you.
If the dough tears, then pinch it shut and avoid stretching that area. It isn’t the end of the world but ensure it gets closed so no sauce goes through.
If the dough snaps back then the gluten is too tight. Gluten is the stretchy network which holds the dough together. Gluten gets tight when cold, or when recently worked. So bring the dough to room temperature, or allow it to rest for 30 minutes before trying again. Kneading builds up gluten strength so you can try kneading for a few minutes less next time.
Roll With A Wine Bottle
If you are set on rolling the pizza, but don’t have a rolling pin, then there are a few options.
Rolling with a wine bottle works pretty well – the length is long enough to work the dough. just make sure it’s clean and not covered in dust. Wipe the bottle before use so that you dont add bacteria to the dough. It could turn it bad if you are storing it for a longer period.
Some other ideas are anything bottle shaped – metal water bottle, beer cans – see what you have in your kitchen.
Do yourself a favor and get an inexpensive rolling pin off Amazon for next time.
How To Roll It
If you are using a dough ball then start by flattening it with your fingers from the centre out. Try to keep the centre slightly thicker as this is a common place for tears.
Once it is resembling a flatter shape rather than a ball then you can start rolling. Push the dough away from you and then back, and turn the dough in 90 degree rotations to keep an even circle.
Stop it shrinking
You might find that rolling just causes the dough to shrink back. This is the gluten in the dough, which is a stringy network that let’s dough rise and hold its shape. The gluten is too strong in this case.
Gluten degrades over time, so a strong dough will become weaker if you let it rest. Try 30 minutes resting at room temperature before you attempt again. Remember to keep the dough covered otherwise a hard skin will form. Gluten is also tight when cold, so again try resting at room temperature until it has warmed up.
And lastly, gluten is built up from kneading. More kneading means a strong network which gives a chewy crust (which might be what you are after). But if you don’t want to wait a long resting time then try kneading for only 2-3 minutes, which is all you need to bring pizza dough together. You should end up with a less elastic dough.
Stop it sticking
Drop your dough into a bowl of flour and flip it over to ensure it is fully coated. Add some semolina to the mix if you have it – it helps the dough slide around and not stick.
On the worktop use enough flour to stop the dough sticking. While using excessive flour in the kneading phase can cause problems, in the shaping phase you can be as generous as you want as you aren’t mixing it in. Just be careful that not too much sticks to the underside of the pizza as this could burn in the oven.
Make Sheet Pan Pizza
Pizza doesn’t have to be rolled out at all. It can be made just as deliciously in a sheet pan. Here you drop the mixed dough into the pan, pull to the corners, and give it time to relax to get fully dispersed around the pan.
Then top and bake the pizza in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Here is a simple recipe you can follow.
This pizza is great for crowds as you don’t need to prepare a large number of pizzas. It’s also really fool proof as not much can go wrong in terms of stretching, using a pizza peel etc. So a good beginner option.
This kind of pizza works better with wetter dough as it can be more fluid to fit the shape of the pan. Wetter dough makes better pizza as it creates more steam for rising and crispness. So add a little more water than your usual recipe – try 5% more.
Make Skillet Pizza
Another easy way to make pizza with minimal stretching effort. This time in a cast iron skillet as the cooking vessel. Again, the pizza is left to naturally stretch into the pan over a few hours, and then finished off by pushing to the edges with your finger tips. It makes a deeper crust pizza as the pan is smaller, so the dough can only go upwards.
Here is a recipe called fool proof pan pizza.
How To Get The Rolled Pizza To The Oven
Maybe you have a peel, but if you don’t have a rolling pin then I’m guessing you don’t have a peel either!
There are a few ways to get the pizza to the oven. You can use a board as a substitute, or build the pizza on parchment paper. This is then transferred to a pizza stone or baking sheet and is a neat trick with no mess.
Stretch the pizza as normal and then transfer to a rectangular piece of parchment paper. Top the pizza and when ready to cook, pick up the paper by it’s edges. Pull out the oven rack and drop the pizza on a preheated pizza stone, steel or thick baking sheet. Let the pizza cook for 4 minutes and then open the door to remove the sheet, and turn the pizza 180 degrees for evening cooking. This stops the paper burning and helps the pizza crisp up on the bottom for the final few minutes. Remove with tongs onto a plate.
Should You Use A Pizza Stone
Pizza stones or pizza steels provide a hot base for pizza to cook upon. This mimics a brick oven where the oven floor is super hot. This makes the pizza cook faster, which makes an all round better pizza. I would advise investing in a stone, or better a pizza steel. The steel heats up faster, transfers heat better and wont break. You can get one on Amazon and will last a life time.
You now have a few options to make pizza without a rolling pin. I would suggest giving stretching a go as its not as difficult as you might think, and its fun to do. You will get better every time you make pizza, and an imperfect pizza still tastes great!
The pan pizzas are also great, and work fantastic if cooking for a group. Try one at your next dinner party for a crowd-pleaser.