Emergency Dough: Tom Lehmann Explains How to Deal With Blown Pizza Dough

Q:

What is an “emergency” dough, and when would a pizzeria owner ever need to use it?

A:

An emergency dough is a dough that youmake in the event that you should loseall of the dough that you have storedin the cooler. For example, a lightningstrike might blow out a transformer thatprovides power to your store duringthe night, and when you come in in themorning, you’re greeted by the aroma offermenting dough. In short, your shopsmells like a brewery. Upon investigation,you find that all of your dough hasblown, leaving it useless for makingpizza. What to do? Enter the emergencydough. This dough is a variation of yourregular dough that has been modifiedto be capable of producing acceptablepizza skins/crusts within the shortesttime possible after mixing. Because ofthe steps taken to speed up the fermentationprocess, you will need to make anumber of emergency doughs during thecourse of the day.

To convert your regular doughformula to an emergency dough, followthese steps:

1) Double the amount of yeast, but donot exceed 2% of the flour weight.

2) Increase the target finished doughtemperature to 90° to 95°F.

3) Mix the dough just until it takes ona smooth, satiny appearance in themixing bowl (this may or may not bedifferent from the way you normallymix your dough).

4) If your dough formula contains sugar,reduce it by half.

Procedure:

Immediately after mixing, scale intodesired weight pieces and ball. Placeinto plastic dough boxes and wipe thedough balls with vegetable oil; coverand set aside to proof/rise at roomtemperature for 2 hours, or until thedough can be opened into dough skinswithout excessive snap-back. The doughis now ready to use in filling pizzaorders. Any dough balls that will notbe used within 90 minutes should beopened into dough skins and placedonto pizza screens that can be stored ina wire tree rack in the cooler. Be sureto cover with a food contact-approvedplastic bag to prevent excessive drying.The pre-stretched dough skins can beused at any time during the same day,but they do not hold over very well fromone day to the next. To use the readymadedough skins, remove them fromthe cooler about 30 minutes before youanticipate needing them, allowing themto temper at room temperature a little.Then remove the dough skin from thescreen and place onto the prep peel orbaking pan/disk, dock the dough skin,dress for the order and bake as youwould your normal dough.

I like to suggest that an emergencydough formula be put together andplaced into a protective plastic sleeve,and stored in your formula/recipe book.This way, it will be ready to use in aninstant when you need it the most. Trustme, when the day comes that you walkinto your store and the aroma gives youa hint of the disaster that has occurred,your brain will be too busy trying to sortthings out: calling a repairman, cleaningup the mess in the cooler, cleaningdough boxes, and trying to figure out ifanything in the cooler can be salvaged—so you don’t want to worry about tryingto figure out how to manage youremergency dough. True, working withan emergency dough isn’t fun, but thenneither is hanging a “closed” sign onyour front door.

Tom Lehmann is the former directorof bakery assistance for theAmerican Institute of Baking(AIB). Need more dough advice?Visit the Dough InformationCenter at PMQ.com/dough.