Can't cook'em fast enough... Questions:

My wife and I have just finished (2 yrs. in the making) a new restaurant/bar and are in our 3rd week. Business is great, we are slammed every night. We are happy with our new chef but are having some trouble with long cook times. I have restored a 1958 Brodgett 981 (diuble deck). It has the old style stones and works well. I have heard that these old stones cook better than the new ones. Our chef uses pizza pans and prepares 20-30 doughs from frozen balls ahead of the rush. Cook times are as long as 25 minutes at 550F. We have people waiting 45 minutes for a seat. Are the pans causing the long cook times? The chef has a lot of experience but I’m not sure he will embrace changing his style to cooking directly on the deck. How much will that help our times?
We know nothing about the restaurant business but are learning quickly. We’re doing 50-60 pizzas/night (16’s and 10’s) and think we have a real opportunity… Thanks, Cris

Sounds like you are doing great, in spite of 25 minute baking time !
You need to get someone knowledgable in your shop to sort it out.
First get an oven thermometer and see what the actual temperature of the oven is, my guess somewhere way lower that 550.
Thickness of the pans, type of dough, are some of the considerations.


Agree with Otis…no way a 550 oven takes 25 min
Maybe thermostat is off?

Also if you use hard coat anodized pans instead of aluminum they will cook better/faster.

Also the thicker the stone the longer recovery time, but since you are cooking in pans the stone doesnt really matter…unless you take them out and finish on the deck

What style of pizza do you make? Thick, thin, chicago, etc.

You mentioned the old style stones… If I’m not mistaken, you won’t be able to use them much longer. I thought there was something about them containing asbestos. Check with your health inspector, I could be wrong.

The pans aren’t your problem. The top of your pies should be scorched at 25 mins at 550 degrees, and the pan can’t change that. I fear that your temp is off badly and possibly that your burners aren’t big enough for the ovens.

I did put a thermometer in the oven when I first tested it but it was an old one that I had to tap to keep it moving as it went up. This oven was always on propane and still is. The main burner looks to be running properly. I will get a new thermometer and check the temps.

We’re buying frozen balls from Sysco now, might make it in the future… I would like to try some pies right on the deck and see if they get real crispy, that’s the way I like them. Everyone else is very happy now so I don’t want to upset the apple cart…

Thanks all, C.

Hi Cris,I agree with snowman the pizza would be black if the temp was 550deg for 25 mins.It would therefor suggest that although your oven may be preset at 550deg the actual temp inside the oven would be alot lower than that.
I have not used frozen dough myself so i can’t say whether that would have anything to do with your situation.
You mention that you restored the oven,i would assume the jets and burners are clean & that you have the right size jets on the burners.
it would be a good move to contact a gas fitter and have the problem sorted out,i would think that if your pizza’s are not scorched they would be very hard,cooking them for so long.
Good luck with this one Cris keep us posted.


Johno :?

Just wondering where you wer using propane, since most use natural gas where available ?
I use propane because I am mobile.

'm in the boonies… there’s not NG within 50 miles of us.

I’m taking an electronic temp gauge with a long thermocouple home from work with me tonight, that will answer the t-stat question. I can map both decks and the corners… Based on everyones opinions, I expect to see low temps… Thanks all, C.

I agree that at 550F and 25 minutes the top of the pie should be one crispy critter. A few questions; You are baking in a pan. What is the color of the pan, and what is the depth of the pan? What is the size of the pan and what is the dough weight used? Do you put any oil in the pan? Do you take the dough right out of the cooler and shape it to the pan, or do you allow the dough to rise in the pan before dressing and baking? The answers to these questions might put a little light on the problem.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks Tom… We’ve been open 5 weeks now doing about 80 pizzas/night; 40 16" and 40 10" (plus 40 dinner specials and 20-30 special salads). We use Amstar Foods 20 oz. frozen dough from US Foods. We have aluminum pans with ~ 3/4" inch sides. We cut the 20oz balls in half for the 10’s. We grease the pans with Crisco and get the dough in place usually in several stages, waiting a few minutes between stretching more. We “load” all the pans and store them in the cooler. They are dressed cold before going in the oven. I appreciate that they are going in cold and that may increase our cook time. I checked the oven and the t-stat is accurate. The heavy traffic in and out is also working aginst us. We have been so busy that we just haven’t had time to experiment. We live in a resort town so things will slow down after this weekend… Thanks for the help and I’ll add more when I get more time; I have my own job too…!! C.

an FYI,
do you notice your 16" pizza being significantly thinner
10" pizza is 79 sq. in. and a 16" pizza is 201 sq. in.(more than double the 10’ pizza, and you are using double the amount of dough)

does that make sense ? I may be missing something


You’re right… We were adding a chunk to the 16’s but I like the thickness without adding. I think the 10’s are a little thick…

I’m really looking forward to being able to try a few things. I would think room temp dough will change the cook time considerably. We do have a chef that has experience with pizza but he has been so slammed that we haven’t tried anything else different than what I described.

I prefer thin crispy crust… can we achieve this with this bought/frozen dough? If so, how?

Thanks, C.

With regard to those pans. What color are they?
The use of a cold/refrigerated dough skin will definately increase the baking time but not by much more than a few minutes at most, so there is something else happening here to extend your baking times so long. Have you checked your gas pressure to make sue you have sufficient gas pressure to maintain high flame? I just recently came across this very problem and it was due to having two gas pressure regulators in the line rather than the recommended one (1). Also check the diameter of your gas line too. When your oven is caling for all the heat it can muster take a look at the burners to see if the flames are tall, strong and blue, or wimpy, short and or yellow.
Good luck, please keep us posted on what you find.
By the way, yes, you can make a decent crispy crust from a frozen dough ball.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

The burner looks good and I think the supply is sized properly. I did all the piping and engineering myself. I think it’s the cold setups and the high traffic and decks full of pies…

Where might I find more on how to alter this dough to thin/crispy? Thanks

I think if you add a higher percentge of water, a more cripy crust will result.

Sounds like your oven is just not getting hot enough, if you can leave it in 25 minutes and not blacken the top.


Have you thought about just buying a parbaked crust? Bonici (Tyson) makes a great thin crust, the “die cut”, and they do make a version of it extra crispy.

Something to ponder—YOU may like the thin and crisp, but what do your customers go for??

To change your dough formula to one that is better suited to making a thin and crispy type of crust either reduce the amount of sugar to 2% of the flour weight or less, or completely eliminate the sugar from the dough formula. Adjust the water content if necessary to allow you to shape the crust easily, then adjust the oven temperature to 525F and bake right on the deck if possible. If you want to bake on a baking disk, get one of the perforated non-stick baking disks from <>. They really work well and last much longer than the wire screens do. For a 12-inch pizza skin you will need to use about 10 to 11-ounces of dough weight.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor