Q: We want to offer a take-and-bake pizza option. What changes will we need to make to our dough formula and procedure?

A: You can make a pretty decent take-and-bake pizza using your existing formula with the following changes:

  1. Reduce the dough absorption by 2% compared to what you use for your fresh dough pizza.
  2. Adjust the yeast level to no more than 1.5% compressed yeast or 0.6% instant dry yeast. I don’t recommend active dry yeast for this application.
  3. If your dough fails to brown sufficiently in the customer’s home oven, you can add more sugar to the dough formula, but this will also boost the sweetness of the finished crust. A better option is to add 5% to 6% sweet dairy whey to the dough formula. This will increase the browning of the dough/crust without boosting sweetness or requiring more water for the dough formula.
  4. Mix your dough for about two minutes longer than you’d spend mixing regular dough.
  5. Take the dough directly to the bench for scaling and balling after mixing.
  6. Place dough balls into dough boxes, cover and set them aside to proof at room temperature until they can be opened into pizza skins by your preferred method.
  7. Place the pizza skins onto disks or screens and place in the cooler on a wire tree rack. Allow them to cool thoroughly (about 90 minutes).
  8. Stack the chilled pizza skins with a piece of parchment paper separating each skin. Do not stack them more than 10 high. You should store the stacked skins in your reach-in cooler for immediate use in filling orders.
  9. To use the skins, remove one from the stack, dock it with a pizza docker, then place it onto a pizza circle or in a lightly oiled, ovenable baking tray/pan. Apply a very light coating of oil to the top of the pizza skin to help prevent migration of moisture from the sauce and toppings down into the dough, and dress to the order.
  10. Wrap your take-and-bake pie with stretch or shrink wrap and place inside a pizza box.

Make sure to provide thorough baking instructions for various types of home ovens, a use-by date and, most importantly, the words “Remove wrapper before baking.” You might think I’m kidding, but I’m not—people make that mistake all the time!

On a cautionary note: Don’t use raw meat or sausage as a topping on a take-and-bake pizza—it can lead to problems once the pizza leaves your store.

Dough Information Center, Food & Ingredients, Tom Lehmann, Tom Lehmann: In Lehmann's Terms