Dough/Crust Help

My wife and I own a 49 seat restuarant, and we are having problems with our crust. After cooking the pizza in our deck oven, the middle of the pizzas tend to be soggy. We make our dough daily, and the outside cooks perfectly but the middle is always soggy, no matter what the toppings are. We make our dough every day, and our pizzas taste great except the middle. Any help in this matter would be much appreciated. Also, what is the best technique for cooking pizza slices in a deck oven? Ours have a tendency to stick when we have tried it in the past.



I was going to say maybe it was the vegis being to wet and pooling in the center or if you ball your dough and tray it up maybe you aren’t getting the ball tight enough and this is causing a thin center when you hand toss it

as far as the slices maybe try parchment papers or get a couple of screens to set them on when reheating them


It sounds like you need a new pizza guy. When I train anyone to make pizza I tell them to stay away from the middle. If you stretch the dough and take too much from the middle it’s bound to get soggy. Maybe up the amount of dough you are using per pizza, let your dough rise longer for a better consistency and flavor, and stretch the dough out as if your keeping the whole crust level. Like a sheet of cardboard. If you held the dough up in the light will you see more light come through any area? If you do, it was poorly stretched. How many ounces are you using for what size pie?

Absolutely right guys, getting the center section of the dough skin too thin will result in a soggy center. Try opening the dough ball so as to leave the center section a little thicker than it presently is to see if that helps. Another problem might be with the way the toppings are aplied. The best way to apply the toppings is so the top of the pizza looks a little like the top of a volcano, that is with the edges slightly higher than the center. The center of the pizza should be almost, but not quite, devoid of any toppings. This will allow for better baking of the center, and as the pizza bakes, the toppings will be forced to the center. Or, you just might not be baking your pizzas long enough. A good deck oven baking temperature is between 500 and 550F. I normally bake at 525F with good success. As for the slices sticking to the deck, your two issues might be related. If you’re not getting the center section completely baked, this can cause the slices, when placed directly on the deck, to stick.
What are you using for a peel dust? A blend of equal parts of flour, fine corn meal, and semolina flour works quite well.
And one last question. Your oven does have a stone or composition deck, right? Not a steel deck?
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

We use a Peerless CW-62 that has four decks, all lined with brick that we cook directly on. I believe a big problem that we are having is the way we are stretching the dough out. We had never cooked high end pizza before we opened 4 months ago, so much of this process has been trial and error.

We run the ovens at 500 degrees, though we are going to run them at 525 today. I have found that when we get busy that it gets a little dicey in terms of the cooks not burning the pizzas. We use corn meal only as peel dust.

Another issue that we have is our severe lack of cooler space. We have two, two door reach-ins and several refrigeraters in the basement, along with two deep chest freezers. I make 50-75 lbs. of dough per day, and after we make it we stick in the freezers for a few hours before we use it for the night. Each morning I thaw out any of the frozen dough from the night before and use it for lunch the next day. Ideally if I had room for more refrigeration I would leave it in that and not freeze, but we have found that if thawed out well the freezing does not really affec the y way the dough tastes or how it cooks.

I would like get better at stretching the dough so that it is not so thin in the middle as I think it is the most severe of the issues we face.

Thank you very much for all of the help and insight.


Are you having any problems withthe dough bubbling? From what I just read in your last post (place dough in freezer for a few hours right after scaling and balling, then thawing later for use on the same night) is that correct? By placing the dough into the freezer, you are limiting the amount of fermentation that the dough receives. I’m betting that you have, at some time, seen your dough blow in those reach in coolers, so you started super cooling the dough by putting it into the freezer. When using reach-in coolers, because of their some what reduced operating efficiency as compared to a walk-in cooler (especially when loading it with 50 or more pounds of dough balls), you should be targeting a lower finished dough temperature than what you would be if you were using a walk-in. The temperature that you should be targeting your finished dough at is in the 70 to 75F range (favoring the 70F side of the range). This will help to control the rate of fermentation while still allowing the dough to ferment normally in the reach-in. Then, to use the dough, you will need to allow the dough to temper AT room temperature for about 2-hours, then you should be able to begin opening the dough balls for use over the next 3-hours.
Note: When placing boxes of dough in a reach-in cooler, you generally cannot cross-stack the boxes as recommended, so you will need to stack the boxes in an off-set manner, one box further back, the next one closer to the front, this will allow the open ends of the boxes to be off-set, promoting much more efficient cooling of the dough balls. Also, be sure to lightly wipe the dough balls with salad oil just prior to placing in the cooler.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

The problem is that we do so much business that I need the reach in space for produce, deserts, salads, etc.