In Lehmann's terms

Tom Lehmann - "The Dough Doctor", explains the nuances of dough.


We're planning to change the size of our large pizza from 16-inches to 18-inches. How much dough should we use for this size?


This is a very commonly asked question, which is easily answered through the use of a little basic high school math. The math involved here has to do with finding the surface area of a circle. The formula for this is expressed as p x R2 . I'll bet you remember that from grade school or high school math class.

To refresh your memory, p is 3.14 (rounded off) and R is the radius of a circle (one-half of it's diameter), and to square the radius, you simply multiply it times itself. With that out of the way, let’s see how we can make this work for us.

In a situation where we already have a pizza and we just want to change the size of the pizza, or add another size, this is what we need to do:

  1. Find the surface area of one of our existing pizza sizes (let’s say it's 12 inches in diameter and the scaling weight is 11 ounces)
  2. Multiply 3.14 x 36 = 130 square inches.
  3. Divide the dough scaling weight by the surface area (11 ounces divided by 113 = 0.0973-ounces of dough per square inch of surface area). You will want to use this same dough loading per square inch of surface area for all of your pizzas (of this type) for consistency in baking and appearance.
  4. Find the surface area of the new diameter that you want to make (let’s say it is 81 inches).
  5. Multiply 3.14 X 81 = 254 square inches of surface area.
  6. To find the dough weight needed for this new diameter multiply the dough loading weight (0.0973 ounces) times the new surface area. (0.0973 x 254 = 24.71 (call it 24.75 ounces) of dough will be needed for the new, 16-inch diameter pizza.

Let’s take a look at another situation. In this case, you might be making a new type of pizza and you don't have any idea of what the scaling weight should be.

  1. Begin by experimenting with different dough weights for a single size pizza. Pick any size you want to experiment with. When you find the dough weight that gives you the pizza that YOU want, make a note of the dough weight.
  2. Now, calculate the surface area of the size of experimental pizza.
  3. Divide the weight of dough that worked best for you by the surface area of the pizza. This will give you a dough weight per square inch of pizza surface (AKA dough weight loading).
  4. Find the surface area of the other pizza diameters that you will want to make.
  5. Multiply the surface area of each pizza diameter by the dough weight loading, and you will have the correct dough weight for that size/diameter of pizza.

The advantages to finding your dough weights in this manner are that each size will have a similar appearance (only the diameter will change) and because the thickness of the dough will always be the same it will bake in a similar manner (shorter time, but probably at the same temperature). If you do a lot of this type of thing, now is a good time to cut this out and post it on the wall near your desk.


I'd like to freeze my dough, but I don't have a clue as to how to begin.


There are two ways to freeze any yeast-leavened dough. One is called "static" freezing. This is where the dough is simply put into a chest or walk-in freezer, operating at between 0° F and -10° F and allowed to remain in there until the dough is completely frozen. The other method is called "blast" freezing. This is how the commercial frozen dough is made. By this method, the dough is frozen in a freezer operating at temperatures of -20° F to -35° F, combined with airflow in the neighborhood of 600 to 800 linear feet per minute. This allows for a much faster freezing rate than is possible through static freezing. While blast freezing is the preferred method of freezing, it is also the costliest, with cabinet type blast freezers costing close to $25,000. Commercial frozen dough is frozen in a spiral type of blast freezer costing many thousands of dollars, and literally is as large as a house. So what's a small guy to do? Static freezing is the only realistic approach to freezing dough that we can take. But with static freezing there is a price to be paid. That price is in the form of reduced shelf life of the frozen dough. While blast frozen dough might have a shelf life of 12 to 20 weeks in the freezer, static frozen dough will have a shelf life of only 15 days maximum. After that, dough performance becomes inconsistent or fails to rise at all. I suggest a shelf life of 10 days for static frozen dough just to play it safe. This means that the dough should be used within this ten-day window, beginning on the day that the dough was frozen.

Here is a pretty good procedure for making frozen dough at your pizzeria. Use your standard pizza dough formulation. No special changes are usually needed. Use all ice water in the dough, except for a small amount of warm (105° F) water to hydrate your active dry yeast if that's the type you're using. You will want to have the dough come from the mixer as cold as possible (65-75° F). Mix the dough just until it takes on a smooth appearance. Immediately after mixing, take the dough to the bench and scale into desired weight pieces and form into balls, wipe the dough balls with salad oil and place into dough boxes and allow to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes, or until the dough balls can be flattened by hand or with a rolling pin to about 1.5-inch thickness. The dough balls will now resemble large hockey pucks. Immediately place the flattened dough balls into the freezer on wire racks or screens and allow them to freeze thoroughly, all the way through. This will most likely take two or more hours. The dough pieces can now be bulk packaged into a cardboard box with a polyethylene bag liner (approved for food contact). Typically, there will be 18 to 24 dough pieces in a box. Twist the top of the bag several times and fold it over, tucking it to the side of the box. Now, the box can be closed and sealed with tape. Be sure to label the box with the type of dough, dough piece weight, production date (date frozen), and a use by date. Keep the dough in the freezer and it should keep well for the next ten days to two weeks.

To use the frozen dough, remove a quantity from a case, and place them onto a sheet pan and allow to slack out (thaw) in the cooler overnight. On the following day, flour the dough balls and set aside at room temperature, lightly cover with a sheet of plastic or heavy towel and allow to remain at room temperature until the dough can be shaped into skins. The dough should remain useable at room temperature for about two hours from the time that you can begin shaping it.

Another method that is somewhat popular is to mix your dough as normal (no special water temperature). As soon as the dough is mixed, take it to the bench for scaling and balling, lightly oil the dough balls and place them into dough boxes at room temperature. After about 30 minutes, or when the dough balls can be shaped into skins, fully shape the dough balls into either full size or 75 percent-sized skins. Place the formed skin on a screen or wire rack in the freezer and allow to freeze thoroughly (about 30 to 45 minutes). When completely frozen, the skins can be stacked into a box with a polyethylene bag liner (stack the skins flat rather than on edge). Try to have the box sized to the skin diameter to reduce excessive dead space in the box. Close the bag; seal the box and label as previously described. To use the pre-shaped skins, remove from the freezer and place onto solid disks that have been lightly oiled. Place into a proof box at 90-95° F and 70 to 75 percent relative humidity to thaw the skins. Once thawed, the skins can be manually pushed out to completely fit the disk/pan. Some operators will then put the skins back into the proof box until needed, while others will place the it onto a covered, wire tree rack and hold it at room temperature until needed. Be sure to dock the skins before dressing and baking to control any bubbling.

Most dough that is frozen by retail operators is used for providing dough to satellite stores or kiosk operations. It is seldom worth the effort to freeze the dough as a method of dough management unless very unique circumstances prevail.


What do I need to make my own sub rolls using my existing pizza dough?


Most pizza dough formulations are well suited for also making your own sub rolls. It is not terribly difficult, but it will take a little practice to make them well.

Begin by using your regular pizza dough formula, but mix the dough about five minutes longer at either low or medium speed. This will result in better gluten development, which is necessary in allowing the rolls to achieve their height and shape without collapse. After mixing, the dough temperature should be in the 80-85° F range, about the same as for pizza dough. Take the dough directly to the bench after mixing and scale into 4.5-ounce pieces for eight-inch rolls or 10.5-ounce pieces for 11-inch rolls. Form each dough piece into a ball shape. Give the dough pieces a light dusting of flour and cover with a sheet of plastic to rest for 15 to 20 minutes, then begin forming each ball of dough into a hot dog shaped roll. Do this by rolling the dough under your hands on the bench top. Roll the dough piece out to the appropriate length and place onto lightly oiled, or parchment paper lined sheet pans with about a three-inch spacing between dough pieces. Slip each pan of dough into a plastic bag, and secure the end. Allow the dough pieces to proof for 45 to 60 minutes, remove the bag and give each dough piece three or four diagonal, French cuts about 1/4-inch deep across the top. Spray the dough pieces with water and bake in a deck oven at 400° F or an air impingement oven at 375° F. Adjust the baking time to give a lightly browned finished roll. After baking, transfer the rolls to a wire screen for cooling. When cooled, the rolls may be stored in plastic bags for use over the next three days. As mold may become a problem, it is not recommended that the rolls be kept for more than three days.

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