For make bubbly, airy loaves of bread and deliciously chewy pizza crusts, you have to work the dough to build up gluten. Gluten is formed by a solid web of cross-linked proteins that traps gas bubbles and grows as the dough cooks. You have to knead the dough for it to develop gluten, but getting enough gluten when you’re working with a wet mixture like pizza dough may take up to 20 minutes, especially if you’re kneading by hand.
You can use a stand mixer, but by far the quickest, most effortless way to work almost any dough is using the food processor. The fast movement of the blades in a food processor can make your dough elastic within minutes almost effortlessly. The food processor also helps you make sure that the dry and wet ingredients are evenly incorporated and helps you avoid any unpleasant unmixed pockets of flour. By far, the easiest doughs you’ll ever make.
When your dough is kneaded to the right point, it should have a smooth, almost shiny appearance. A good test is pulling the dough: pinch it and pull, it should feel very elastic and should spring back into place.
Here are a couple of tricks we’ve found for making and working doughs in your food processor.
1. Stick to the Blade
Most food processors come with plastic dough blades, but we found they are not the most appropriate tool to get the job done. They tend to drag the dough around the bowl or the dough ends up stuck to the sides, out of reach. Use the metal blade: though it’s mainly designed to chop and process food, it’s way better at working and kneading the dough than the plastic blades.
2. Use Cold Water
The friction created by the food processor’s action produces heat that slowly warms the dough. Too much heat could kill yeast and affect both growth and flavor, so it’s important to use chilled or iced water when you’re going to knead dough in a food processor.
3. Don’t Add All Ingredients At Once
Adding all the ingredients together before starting the food processor might make a mess, flour and liquid everywhere! Try adding the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients while the processor is running to make sure they slowly mix together and the dough forms evenly.
4. Avoid Over-Kneading
Don’t over-knead, especially if the dough has butter in it; the heat from the processor can melt the butter and that might affect the texture of the dough once it’s cooked. Check if the dough is elastic enough and you’re good to go.