Grit, par-baking and bread loaves

QUESTION:
I use cornmeal to keep my dough fromsticking to the peel, but some of mycustomers have complained about itsgrit. Whatother meal or flour could I use as a similar substitute?

ANSWER:

The nice thing about cornmeal andother gritty dusting-flour mediums istheir ability to act like a lot of little ballbearings,making the transfer of pizzasinto the oven easier. In addition, thegrittiness that cornmeal imparts to theproduct is often associated with crispinessin the finished crust.

Different particle sizes of cornmealare available, so be sure to use a finegrind. As an alternative, consider usingcorn flour, which is very finely groundcornmeal. Do not confuse corn flourwith masa/maseca flour (alkalizedcorn flour), which also can be used asa dusting-flour substance and is finerthan cornmeal.In addition to the options mentionedabove, the other dusting-flour mediumsinclude:

  • Durum flour—Milled from durumwheat, it has a light yellow color and isfairly fine in particle size (it’s less grittythan cornmeal).
  • Semolina—Semolina is the endospermof milled durum wheat. It’salso light yellow in color and slightlygrittier than durum flour but less grittythan cornmeal.
  • Rice flour—Milled from both brownand white rice, rice flour comes in awide variety of particle sizes, rangingfrom extra-fine and fine to coarse.Evencoarse rice flour is less grittythan cornmeal.
  • Rye flour—Rye flour is milled fromrye grain and comes in light, mediumand dark varieties. It, too, has less gritthan cornmeal.
  • Rye meal—Also milled from ryegrain, this meal tends to be much grittierthan cornmeal.
  • Wheat flour—Wheat flour is milledfrom wheat and available in whiteand whole-wheat flours. Whole-wheatflours come in designations of micro orextra-fine, fine, medium and coarse, allof which relate to the size of the branparticle. Typically, these flours are lessgritty than cornmeal.
  • Blends—The various products mentionedabove can be blended to createdusting flour with the characteristicsyou most desire.

QUESTION:
I par-bake my pizzas and thenreheat them when an order is placed.This sometimes results in the crustbecoming harder than I’d like. Is therea solution for this?

ANSWER:
Par-baking of pizzas and pizza doughcrusts is a great way to quickly bakepizzas and generally ensure that theyare crispy and completely baked. Ifpar-baking is your preferred methodfor baking pizzas, you may need toadjust your dough formulation toreduce the likelihood that they willbecome too hard on the second bake.Consideration should be given to thelevel of oil or shortening that’s addedto the dough formulation. It may benecessaryto increase the level of oil orshortening to impart more tendernessto the finished product.

QUESTION:
We serve mini loaves of bread to ourcustomers, but lately it has been moredifficult to consistently bake them allthe way through. Can you suggesta method for ensuring that they’rebaked right every time?

ANSWER:
One of the best ways to know if a loafof bread is completely baked is to use athermometer and measure the internalcore (center of the loaf)temperature.Bake loaves until they reach a coretemperature of 200° to 202°F.

Jeff Zeak is the pilot plant managerfor the American Institute of Baking(AIB). Need more dough advice?
Visit the Dough Information Centerat PMQ.com/dough.