I’m producing my thick crust pizzas using a par-baked crust I make. I’m having a problem with the crust not browning very well when it is baked in our oven as a complete pizza.
There are several things that might be responsible for the crust not browning properly during the final baking. Since you are making your own par-baked crusts, I would try adding a little extra sugar to the dough formulation. Usually, if the dough is made with 4 percent to 5 percent sugar it will brown up quite well. If this gives the crust too much sweetness, you can also add 2 percent or 3 percent of a bakery grade, sweet dairy whey. The whey is high in lactose and milk sugar, which has a very low sweetness, but aids considerably in the browning reaction during baking. Occasionally, we have found par-baked crusts made with an insufficient amount of shortening or oil can be difficult to get to brown properly. If your dough does not contain at least 3 percent oil or shortening, I suggest you increase the amount of fat in the formula to at least the 3 percent level. Or, if you want, you can try one of my favorite little tricks; try brushing the par-baked crust with a little olive oil before you add the sauce and toppings. This can do wonders in getting the crust to start browning. There are browning solutions available that are based upon mailose, a type of sugar that reacts very rapidly in the presence of heat to form a brown crust color. These mailose solutions are sprayed onto the crust surface prior to topping of the crust.
We have recently obtained a used Hobart Vertical Cutter Mixer (VCM) and would like to begin using it to produce our dough. What changes do we need to make to our dough recipe that we presently make in a Hobart 30-quart planetary mixer?
Let me begin by setting the stage. The VCM is a high-speed mixer and you will find that the mixing time will be much shorter than that required by your planetary mixer. Also, the high mixing speed will generate a significant amount of frictional heat during mixing, requiring the use of colder water in the dough. With this in mind, put the water at 65°F into the mixing bowl first. If you are using an instant dry yeast (IDY) it will need to be pre-hydrated in a small amount of warm water (95°F) for five to 10 minutes. It can then be added to the water in the mixing bowl (be sure to remove an amount of water from the mixing bowl that is equal to the amount of water used to hydrate the IDY). Adding the flour, salt, sugar, and any other dry ingredients can then follow this. Begin mixing for 30 seconds or so, just enough to get the dough started, then stop the mixer, add the oil or shortening to the bowl and continue mixing for an additional 30 to 60 seconds. You want to stop mixing the dough just as it starts to take on a smooth appearance. The temperature of the mixed dough should be between 80° and 88°F. If it is warmer than this, I suggest you reduce the water temperature by about 10°F, or replace a couple pounds of the water with shaved ice. Continue making adjustments to the water temperature until the mixed dough is within the target temperature range. At this point, the dough can be handled in the same manner as your regular pizza dough.
It’s a good idea to always record both the room temperature and the finished dough temperature. This will help you stay abreast of any room temperature changes that will ultimately affect the finished dough temperature, thus necessitating a change (reduction) in the temperature of the water that is being added to the dough. And lastly, since the dough mixing time is so very short, a few seconds difference in mixing time can be rather significant. I would suggest that you install a large clock with a sweep second hand on the wall where it can be easily seen to allow for more accurate timing of the mixing stage.
I’m new to the pizza business. I’m a little confused at how dough recipes are given. Can you help me change a recipe from percentages to an actual dough containing 40 pounds of flour?
This question gets asked from time to time, and I’m always glad to answer it. Most working recipes/formulas are given in what is called “Baker’s Percent.” This is where each ingredient is expressed as a percentage of the total flour weight, and the total flour weight is always expressed as 100 percent.
To determine the weight of any ingredient, multiply the flour weight by the percentage of the ingredient. For example, if you were using 40 pounds of flour in your dough, the flour percentage would be 100 percent, and if the formula called for 1.75 percent salt, the salt weight would be (1.75 percent of 40 pounds = .0175 X 40 pounds = 0.7 pounds/ 0.7 X 16 = 11.2 ounces). You would need to repeat this for each ingredient used in the formula.
To change from ingredient weights to ‘Baker’s Percent’ you will need to divide the weight of each ingredient by the total flour weight. For example, if your total flour weight is 40 pounds, the percent for the flour is automatically 100 percent. If 1.5 pounds of olive oil is shown, the calculation would be (1.5 divided by 40 = 0.0375 or 3.75 percent). Remember if you change the weight of any ingredient, you will need to recalculate the percentage of only that ingredient.
There are many advantages to working our formulas in ‘Baker’s Percent,’ but space does not permit me to go into it in this issue. I will try to cover some of the advantages in my next article.