Can par-baked crusts save time during rush periods?

According to Tom “The Dough Doctor” Lehmann, par-baking your dough skins for later use has its advantages and disadvantages.



 

Q We want to increase our volume, so we were thinking about prebaking our dough until it’s lightly browned and setting it aside for later use when we get really busy. This would reduce baking time and allow us to make more pizzas in rush periods. Is this a viable technique?

 

A It appears you’re talking about making par-baked crusts for those busy periods when you get slammed. There is good news and bad news regarding the use of par-baked crusts. The good news is, they can be made during slow periods for use later in the day. We like to make the crusts using about one-half of the normal amount of sauce on the skin, which prevents excessive bubbling. Once par-baked, the crusts can be stored at room temperature for the remainder of the day without any problems.

The resulting pizzas are excellent, especially if crispy is the name of your game. They also require less time to finish baking than baking a pizza on a raw dough skin, so it becomes a real time- and labor-saver.

The bad news, however, is that the finished pizza will be different from a pizza made using a raw dough skin. So, to ensure consistency of product, all of your pizzas will need to be made using the par-baked crust approach. And the baking conditions for making a par-baked crust differ from the conditions for baking a pizza on a raw dough skin, so that has to be taken into account. Some operators use two ovens to resolve this issue. If you use an air impingement oven, the entire finger configuration of the oven for par-baking (as well as for the finish bake) will need to be changed. That’s because pizzas made on a par-baked crust are baked from the top down, while pizzas baked on a raw skin cook from the bottom up.

Instead of par-baking, another option would be to make the dough skins in advance of your busy periods and store them in refrigeration until they’re needed. In this case, you’ll want to open the dough into skins during your downtime. However, instead of opening them to full diameter, open them to about 2” less than full diameter (this may require some experimentation to get it right). The opened skins should then be placed onto regular pizza screens, stored on a wire tree rack and inserted into the cooler (uncovered), allowing the skins to cool quickly. After about 30 minutes, the tree rack will need to be covered with a plastic bag to prevent drying. The preopened skins can be held throughout the day in this manner.

To use the preopened skins, remove the tree rack or individual skins from the cooler and allow them to warm at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Then remove the skins from the screens and finish opening them to full diameter. This will be a fast and easy process. After that, you can use the skins just as you would any other pizza skin, dress them to order and bake. Done correctly, no special adjustments have to be made to the dough or the ovens.

 

We’re primarily a delivery/carryout operation. We’ve gotten complaints that our pizzas are tough and chewy once they reach the customer’s home. What can we do to reduce or eliminate the toughness in the crust?

 

A The easiest solution is to change to a flour with lower protein content. Many pizzerias use a “high-gluten” or “pizza” flour, but a bread-type flour with a protein content of 11.5% to 12.8% is a better choice much of the time. (The exception is when you want a chewy texture.) You might save a few pennies in flour costs, too!  

 

Edit Module

Tell us what you think at or email.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Chef’s Corner: Pizzaiolo and rock musician Mick Mahan hits us with his best pizza shot.

In this exclusive Q&A, Pat Benatar’s bassist, owner of Parma Pizzeria Napoletana, talks about his love for all pizza styles and serving pies to rockers from REO Speedwagon, Toto and more.

Astoria: Pizza and espresso are a match made in Italy

Nothing compliments an Italian dessert like a well-made espresso or specialty coffee drink made with Astoria espresso machines.

Season’s eatings: How to harvest a bumper crop of profits throughout the year

Stuck in a rut? Start using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients to rejuvenate your pizzeria’s menu while keeping your food dollars in the community.

5 effortless ways to improve your digital menu board and sell more pizza

With digital signage, your customers can see your menu in larger-than-life living color. Here’s how to use them to increase your sales and improve customer service.

The 2018 Pizza Power Report: A State-of-the-Industry Analysis

To stay competitive in the pizza business in 2018, independents will have to meet customers’ growing demand for speed, customization, delivery and convenience.

10 or 12? Advice on portion sizes for wing offerings

Will a six-count snack deal fly, and what’s the next step up from there?

Italian certified ingredients dominate the conversation at World Pizza Forum

PMQ's Missy Green takes a deeper look at the "Made in Italy" phenomenon.

What's Your Story? A pair of successful restaurateurs find a higher purpose with Little Box Pizza

This new concept with a conscience uses the power of pizza and small business ownership to turn lives around.

Get the gluten out with DeIorio's Fresh Prosciutto Gluten-Free Pizza

Serve your customers this prime pie made with fresh prosciutto, garlic and DeIorio's gluten-free pizza shells.

Will putting eggs in your dough leave you with egg on your face?

When it comes to improving your crust, eggs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags