Why Is My Pizza Crust Flat and Hard?

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Q: I am very very new to baking. I have tried to make pizza so many times and failed every single time. The crust is always very flat, crunchy, and hard. It doesn't form into a bread-like substance. Where I live in India, I don't get all-purpose flour so I used maida flour. Help!

[From Wikipedia] "Maida is a finely milled and refined and bleached (either naturally due to atmospheric oxygen or using other chemical bleaches) wheat flour, closely resembling cake flour, and used extensively in making Indian fast food, Indian bakery products such as pastries and bread, varieties of sweets and sometimes in making traditional Indian breads such as paratha and naan. It is made from the endosperm (the starchy white part) of the grain, while the fibrous bran is removed in the mill." We also have whole wheat unbleached flour, unbleached rice flour, gram flour (Besan), and chickpea flour here.

I may be making the mistake of not letting the dough rise completely after adding yeast. I let the dough to rise for around 1 hour, but the dough would have not risen much or doubled but only risen a little. I go about the rest of the pizza process and then I bake it in the oven at 205°C [400°F] for 15 to 20 mins. Then it turns really hard and so unlike a bread! Please help me! I am hell bent on learning how to make a pizza and it has turned into a challenge for me.

Sent by Aravind

Editor: If the maida flour is like cake flour, then my suspicion is that it lacks enough gluten to really get a chewy, bread-like pizza crust. But since you say that this same flour is used to make paratha and naan, maybe that's not the case. I'm feeling a little stumped, honestly!

Readers, do you have any suggestions for how Aravind can make the pizza of her dreams?

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(Image credits: Emma Christensen)

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