Creating pizza dough can be tricky. One day it can be perfect, the next day it can be challenging. Put the expertise of The Doughminators™ to work for you. Discover how their insightful tips can be a quick resource to topics that matter to you like knowing the right flour for the right pizza, the ideal order of adding in ingredients and tips for a crispier crust.
In order to suggest the ideal flour, one needs to first understand the style of pizza that is being produced. Just as pizza is not just pizza, flour is not just flour. As a miller, we classify flours by their protein levels. Wheat is unique in that it is the only cereal grain that has significant amounts of gluten forming proteins. The amount of protein in a flour is directly related to the strength of your dough. In the pizza industry, I have observed that three general protein ranges are most commonly used for dough. Below is a general use-guide for these flours:
Ask your miller or distributor for the specifications on these types of flour.
One common reason for unexpected blistering on your crust during baking is cold dough. Cold dough is resistant to the rapid expansion of gases that is taking place during baking. The gluten structure is tight and the gases will seek out the weakest spots to expand, therefore producing bubbles. Allowing the dough to warm to at least 60ºF prior to baking will greatly reduce blistering.
I always suggest adding the water to the bowl first. On top of the water add the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (assuming instant yeast in this case). This will allow the water to hydrate the flour quickly and the other ingredients will become adequately blended during the mix time. If using oil, I always suggest that the water and dry ingredients be allowed to incorporate for at least 1 minute prior to adding the oil. This delay will ensure greater dough consistency by preventing the oil from coating the yeast or competing with the water to hydrate the flour.
The temperature of the dough once mixing in completed will dictate the quality of your dough. Establishing and maintaining a consistent dough temperature is the underlying key to pizza crust quality. For most over-night, refrigerated dough production systems, an ideal dough temperature should be around 78 to 80ºF. Every operator will have their own ideal temperature, but this is a good starting point. The best way to control this temperature is to adjust the temperature of the water used for making the dough.
When hydrating active dry yeast, only a portion of the total formula water is required. A general rule is to have the water equal to five-times the weight of the yeast in order to properly hydrate the yeast. So, if using 2 ounces of active dry yeast, only 10 ounces of the formula water needs to be at the specified 110ºF. The balance of the formula water can be adjusted to maintain your ideal dough temperature of 80ºF.
I always suggest that you contact the mixer manufacturer for the optimal batch size. If that information is readily available, however, the general rule for pizza dough is that one-half the quart size of the mixer would be the maximum flour weight. So, an 80-quart mixer could handle a formula utilizing 40 pounds of flour.
There are many variables that affect the crispiness of a crust; type of flour used, dough formulation, toppings used, and style of oven. One trend that I have seen with dense, chewy crusts is that the dough is too stiff. Stiff dough does not bake efficiently. By adding more water to the formula, the dough will actually “open” up when baking creating tiny little air cells. These air cells lighten the crust and allow the dough to bake completely resulting in a lighter, crispier crust.
If your dough balls didn’t rise, it’s because there wasn’t enough yeast fermentation. There are several reasons for inadequate fermentation, but here are the top few. 1) There simply isn’t enough yeast in your formula. Trying increasing your yeast by 10% increments in future batches to see if you get the proper rise. 2) The dough is too cold coming off the mixer. Targeting an 80F dough temperature for overnight, refrigerated dough is a good starting point. 3) The dough was stored at too low of a temperature.
Make sure your walk cooler is not too cold. You may need to let the dough balls set longer at room temperature before using.
If your dough balls rise too much, it’s because there was too much yeast fermentation. There are several reasons for excessive fermentation, but here are the top few. 1) The dough is too warm coming off the mixer. A 15F increase in dough temperature can double yeast activity. Targeting an 80F dough temperature for overnight, refrigerated dough is a good starting point. 2) The dough was stored at too warm of a temperature. Make sure your walk cooler is below 40F. After the dough is mixed, the dough balls should be cooled as quickly as possible. 3) There may be too much sugar or too little salt in the dough. Sugar increases yeast activity, while salt has a controlling effect.
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