Crispy Crust

Hi, kinda new here to Pizza making although I did make tons of pies as a young adult, now so many years later i’m finding it hard to recreate some of the results.

I’m using Lehmans, Retail (Small Scale) Frozen Pizza Dough recipe basically, and a deck oven at 500-550 degrees.

Salt 1.75%
Sugar 2%
Baking Powder .12% (as a safeguard and mixed with the oil)
Garlic .06% (as a reducing agent)
Yeast .66%
Oil 4%
Water 53% (any more and our dough is too sticky)
(Flour is 10-12.5% Protein) The best I can get where I live in Mexico)

We take our dough of the cooler and open it up with a Warmed Dough Pro Pizza press, (with the bottom floured so the dough doesn’t stick to the screens) then place it on a screen and pull it out to shape. We have tried many different methods, such as allowing the dough to warm up to room temp first before putting it in the dough press, but when we drop it on the screen we always end up with a pizza that’s too thin in the middle. (We make a medium thick crust pizza). So we don’t use that method anymore. By the way we don’t have to dock the pizzas at all when using screens. I wanted to make these medium thick crust pizzas in pizza pans but we had extreme problems with the top getting fairly well cooked while the crust was way underdone. We then switched to screens and got the bottom to brown up a bit more but the toppings are always ready long before the bottom and usually will burn if we try and push it and get the crust crispier. I really can’t figure this out. When I made pizzas at home in my 350 degree oven I always had the problem of the crust burning long before the cheese and toppings were ready. Now that i’m making pizzas commercially I can’t get the bottom crispy enough. The oven does have small stone blocks to hold the heat in, and controls to close the vents (We have them closed all the way in hopes the heat is dispersed more on the bottom and the stones then inside the oven.) Other then prebaking the skins for a couple minutes then taking out and topping them i’m not sure what we can change to get a better crust. I don’t want to go with pre baking the crusts as I know it tends to dry the crusts out and then they come out very hard. Age of the dough seems to have no effect either as dough from 1-4 days old pretty much cooks the same in the oven.

Is there anything anyone would change with our recipe to help the crusts cook better? Less or More oil or sugar?

One thing the DD always says is to add more water to make it crispier. I was stumped for about a whole month of testing before we opened our store, and it worked for me.

Perhaps it is too thin due to the way you are re-stretching it from the press…

What is the dough weight and the screen size?

I wouldn’t “flour” the bottom of the press, rather oil it - but make sure your screens are well seasoned

Are taking the pie off the screen & finishing it on the stone? That would help…

on a side note - not sure I’d add baking powder or the garlic - BP changes the cell structure…

CiCi’s never added any reducing agent and used “green” dough many times (less than 12 hrs old)

I don;t use a deck oven, but perhaps the temp is too high as well…

I would think that the problem is your pizza screens. You should use a black screen and take the pizza off the screen and put it on the brick the last two minutes. Experiment with the timing a little.

Thanks for your replies and advice everyone.

As for adding more water, I think using the flour we have available we are at the extreme range of % water - any more and we get a sticky mess. As for garlic in the recipe, actually it also adds a very subtle flavour to the pizza which is noticable when you chew the crust - might be better to spread garlic and butter on top though as we spread a bit of oil around the edge of the crust and sprinkle sesame seeds on the pizza (That’s how people like pizza here in Mexico - alot of people also put ketchup on top of their pizza before eating too!)

Dough weight is 730 grams (25.75 oz) for a 16 Inch pizza.

Not sure what black screens are, was actually lucky just to find the 16 inch ones I got.
Pizza takes 10-11 minutes to cook as it is at 500-550 degrees, we have tried lowering the temp but then we are talking 15 minutes in the oven with no change in the crust.

Thanks Patriot and Pizza of the month for the suggestion to bake last two minutes on the bricks ! It actually never occured to me - I have tried baking the entire pizza on the bricks but the crust ends up extremely dry although it cooks very quickly in 6-7 minutes - not recommended for this oven though.

Going to try sliding it off the screens for the last couple minutes today as this has to be the solution! Especially for pizzas we have to throw into the oven without allowing it to heat up properly!

crust weight seems a bit heavy - I use a 21 oz. ball 4 my 16"

also, watch out 4 piling up toppings in the center - make sure u arrange them evenly around the edge & inward

I’m sure Tom Lehman may have a couple more suggestions. For a deck oven, I’ve found that 500-550 is about right. And is your dough weight for a regular or a thick crust? With any screens, make sure you’ve seasoned them. And I’ve also found it best to take the pizza off the screens off 1 to 2 minutes before it’s done.

This is what’s worked best for us.

Thanks. We really have more of a problem with the cheese and toppings sliding off the crust into the center, which always seems to be where the dough builds up the most after pressing and stretching onto the screen, however i’ve made a wooden peel and going to try dropping from the press to the peel, finishing the skin by hand and sliding onto screen today, as the problem seems more when we pick the dough up and drop it onto the screen - the dough stretches out too much in the center, so it’s really not the presses fault there - once it’s onto the screen the dough can’t be worked at all, only stretched.

We do have a big problem with getting the cheese to melt on our Hawaiian pizzas (Perhaps the second favorite pizza in all of Mexico) but i’m sure everyone has that problem when they put pineapple on pizzas!

Dough weight is for medium thick crust - What do you mean by “Seasoned screens?”

If your deck oven is a Baker’s Pride, you should be able to adjust the amount of heat that’s coming into the baking chamber from the top. Close the vent until the bottom and top are evenly done. I have to have mine wide open all the time to get the bake I want.

How I season screens is to put some light oil on them and put them in the ovens…I do it 2 or 2 times. Then the screens are ready to use.

As for your dough, when I teach people how to stretch dough, I teach them to try to stretch around the edge and to stay out of the center. Otherwise, your center gets too thin and it can’t be fixed very easy.

Is your dough easy to work with, if it is, then try not to over do it. As for your wooden peel, it seems like an extra step.

You should be able to pick the dough up off the screen and make any adjustments, then lay it back down. If you pull on the dough laying on the screen, there’s a change of tearing the dough or it may shrink back even with sauce and cheese on it.

Not sure I am reading this right, but you need to make sure your cheese extends beyond the sauce to the dough. It will ‘lock’ to the edge during cooking. Your ingredients will have a tendency to move inward. Also, make-table people seem to have a natural tendency to spread ingredients too close to the center. So make sure toppings are distributed outward and leave a small circle of NO toppings in the center of the pie. It will also help to cook evenly.

You season your screens to make them non-stick. Apply a light coating of Pam or some other oil and run through the oven a couple of times. They will smoke a bit, but you will end up with non-stick screens. Do NOT wash them or you will need to reseason.

Great replies everyone. Thanks for your advice.

The crispy crust problem is solved! We slid the pizzas off the screens and burned the bottoms up a bit on the bricks for 1 minute then rotated them 180 degrees and let em cook another minute and they came out nice and crispy - perfect!

Our dough is actually not very workable at all as we pull it straight from the cooler and onto the dough press. The press is heated though so it does get it slightly workable but it’s definitely not a hand tossed type of dough - one of the major problems is the length of time it takes us to get the dough stretched out to the screen due to excessive snap-back - Like I said before we did try proofing the dough first but then we ended up with pies that had huge crusts and thin middles.

I didn’t like the 1st dough press I bought many, many yrs ago, but when I was @ CiCi’s, I learned to crank 'em out w/o issue…

Review the H2O temp when making the dough as well as the finished product…

Back off on the H2O a bit, as it shouldn’t be “sticky”…

Try to “age” the dough for @ least 24 hrs…

Depending on the H2O temp & the amt. of yeast - your dough should proof nicely in the cooler/dough tray…

Bring out 30 minutes b4 use 2 temper…now press but keep the handle down & count 2 10 or so…

I used to be pressing one while I was stretching another - a machine like routine…

Keeping the press handle down longer seemed to resolve the snap-back nicely…

We oiled the bottom platten every few balls & docked the dough just 3 time (well maybe 4-5) right on the screen (we used black anodized disks)…

Slap it on a rack & use within 30 minutes…

About how hot did you have the Dough Press at Patriot? Or was it not heated? I have it on 150 degrees but only leave it pressed for about 5 seconds. Any longer and it actually starts cooking the top alot and tends to stick to the top of the platen (even when both the platen and the dough are well oiled).

We don’t really have much problem with the proofing. Can put the frozen dough in the cooler and its ready by morning, otherwise can take the frozen dough out back and let the sun work on it a few hours if needed.

that might have been a few degrees hotter, but don’t recall anymore…

I think if you back off on the H2O a bit, it’ll work 4 you…

I use approx. 7.25/7.5 qts. of COLD H2O when making 25# of dough, or 28# for a full 50# batch - we use All Trumps flour as well (hand tossed)

I think CiCi’s uses H2O @ 68