If its OK with everyone I would like to make a thread for myself where I can ask questions and update folks on my journey to pizza stardom. That way if someone gets tired of me or doesn’t feel like reading my posts they can just skip over them.
In any event, I bought my first piece of professional pizza equipment this weekend. Its a used DoughPro pizza press in fine working shape. I got it for $500.
I made my first couple pizzas with it and they turned out just ok. I used the dough doctors new york style pizza recipe and a vented pizza disc I purchased at KMart. What I noticed was that the crust kind of stayed white while the rest of the pizza cooked and browned. This may or may not have anything to do with the press? [size=5]What I am hoping is, that those of you that use or have used pizza presses in the past could give me some good advice on how to make the best pizza possible using a press.[/size]
I held the press for approx 10 seconds on the recommended heat setting. When I lifted it up the dough it did shrink a bit so I put it back in for another 6 seconds and it stayed pretty much in shape.
I can’t really comment too much about your press other than this tidbit:
While you mention that the press is your first important pizza business purchase, I’ll be completing my 36th month in business shortly. I’ve never used a press and while I expect sales of $600-700K this year, can’t see where one would do me much good. JMO.
I wouldn’t buy a piece of equipment and then decide how to make my product fit it. I’d buy equipment that enhances my product.
14 views and 0 responses so far. I think I know why.
First of all, I am ‘just a pizza driver’ and don’t even know how to stretch or toss dough. I tried to learn for about an hour one day, but didn’t have the patience (or an instructor) worth more of a commitment. I have worked for Papa John’s for more the 5 years now and have worked off an on in the industry for nearly 20 years as a driver. My comments are based on my limited view of the industry as both a consumer and a driver for both big3 and indy stores. (And lately gas stations.) I am not attempting to belittle your use of a ‘dough press’, I am just trying to put it in context of what I have observed.
Even the big3 do not use dough presses given their inexhaustible drive for lower cost and efficiency. They continue to hire an unlimited supply of teenagers and train them in a matter of days to take a preformed dough ball and mash, smash, massage and stretch (but not toss) it into a nationally acceptable facsimile of a pizza crust (a nod to all the indy’s here that take much greater pride in their crust making procedures) . A dough smasher may be able to make a pizza shaped skin, but for some reason unknown to me, most places take the time to hand form the ball into an acceptable skin.
Frankly, the only place I see dough smashers are at gas stations that sell ‘fresh pizza’ on a neon sign in the window made by people that have absolutely no more training than reading the stained and crumpled instruction sheet.
I could be completely wrong about this. A dough smasher might be able to make a mighty fine crust given the right ingredients and operators, but my experience tells me that is is not the best way to get the job done efficiently in an acceptably edible manner. My uneducated guess is that the 14 other viewers are being respectfully quiet in not commenting on your use of a ‘dough press’. maybe my post will ‘break the ice’ so to speak and allow them to give you the advice you really need to make a product you can feel proud of.
I totally apologize if I offend anyone with what I posted, but I did post what I believe to be good information. If anyone cares about anyone else who comes here asking for input on what they do, I hope you respect them enough to give an honest reply with the input they need to improve.
We may never agree on everything, but without honest feedback, what is the point of this board?
I’m two years away from opening a pizza place so I figure the more practice and experience the better (I have no product). The press was only $500. They retail new for over $2500. Worst case scenario, I experiment with it for a year and sell it for what I paid for it.
What do you use? A sheeter? If I could find a $500 sheeter I would buy that too so I could experiment. Could you tell me why you feel a running dough through a sheeter makes a superior dough to a heat press? I’m here to learn.
I am interested in the press because of its “no brains necessary” approach. I read the Dough Doctors article and the way I read it, the press was just as good a way to make a good pizza as a sheeter. Maybe I read it wrong?
The big three use a sheeter. There is no way they are hand doing hundreds of pizzas a day. They sheet them then stretch them a little bit.
That is a good question though, “why do the big three not use a dough press?” Is it because of the press or is there another reason? Its possible that since they started before presses were around that it would be too difficult to switch the hundreds of pizza places over to a press when both the press and the sheeter give the same/similar results?
So far, I am not gung-ho on the press but I would like to experiment with it for a while. At the very least it makes a great back up machine if my sheeter broke or I could just sell it for what I paid for it.
I know there are member here who use the press. And I know California Pizza Kitchen uses the press.
I use a press in my operation. In fact it’s the same press that you got, but with a digital temp display. We are a medium volume shop that does about $450K per year.
I decided on a press for the same reason as you described. I didn’t want to have special dough handlers to have to toss or sheet my skins. Basically everyone in my store can press a skin (some better than others). But overall, it works for us and the results are good.
As for the springing back that you’re having, it’s possibly due to the dough being too fresh. In other words, it hasn’t had enough time to “relax”. For my dough recipe, that means that it sits overnight in the fridge. When I get into situations where I have to rush using some “fresh” dough, it really springs back badly. One thing I also did was that I modified my dough recipe by increasing the h2o ratio. This helps with the dough to stick to the bottom platen a little better. I spray the top of the dough before pressing, so it doesn’t stick to the top platen.
There are some other folks here that use presses. I believe they use presses at Cici’s Pizza. Yea, they might not be as popular as a sheeter. But for me, it works.
I would really like a logical discussion as to why smashing the dough multiple times through a sheeter then stretching it a little is far superior to placing the dough and pressing it once quickly with a little heat on top? The fancy presses now give you a nice thick crust automatically too.
Nearly everyone would agree that hand tossing the entire pizza will give you superior results. For my business model this is not an option. I need something that a person with an 8th grade education can handle. And I know sheeting is not all that difficult either.
I need to find out what method makes the best pizza. Or are they in fact nearly identical? If someone on here has used a pizza press extensively and thinks they suck please tell us why.
Freddy, the only thing we use are hands. We form the dough, press, stretch, slap, dock, and place on the screen for sauce and toppings. Most cooks average about a week before they’re comfortable, about a month before they’re proficient, and about 6-12 months before they’re expert. Keep in mind, the week - month they’re really training and not alone. The last thing a potential cook gets to learn is making pies. An expert cook will probably have 2 14" pies in the oven from dough balls in the time it’ll take you to get one dough ball to press and then to screen.
Freddy, one thing I’ve learned in my time hanging out here is…there are all kinds of folks, each with the “right” way of doing it.
I was like you and spent years studying the business side, developing my own likings for what I wanted to sell. I too spent that time reading, learning, visiting trade shows etc. all in an effort to get to that place where I was comfortable in my decisions and take that next step.
I bought purchased a used sheeter and used it in my home for the last year while playing with dough recipes etc. Now that we’re within weeks of opening, I’m like 85% sure we’re not even going to use it…but, in the last year it (like your press will be) was a valuable tool to me.
My bottom line is, keep pushing forward, don’t settle for mimic-ing the other guys “right way” of doing it, but at the same time learn all you can from him. I would whole-heartedly endorse a trip to AIB’s “Pizza Production Technology” class next October. You’ll get a year’s worth of experience in a week’s time! Enjoy your two years and use the time to your advantage…
Everyone is going to have their own preference on this subject. I would listen mostly to the people that have actually both used a press and hand tossed their dough. The only way to give someone an educated opinion on whether a dough press can produce the same quality as hand tossed dough, is to actually make a pizza using both a press as well as hand tossing one and then compare the results.
I’ve hand tossed dough and used a pizza press. I can honestly say that with my dough there is no difference other than it’s a lot quicker to use the press. Anyone can use a dough press. It’s simple to use and you can train somebody in a matter of minutes to use it. After using a dough press, I would never go back to hand tossing.
As far as the quality of the pizza you made, you said it was just ok. What is the process you’re using to make your pizza? Are you using a dough docker to run holes through the dough before you sauce and cheese it? The type of oven you’re using or the discs might be affecting the quality of your pizza. I use screens and I tried using a disc once and it cooked a lot different. I had similar results as you. The pizza came out real doughy. I use Lincoln Impinger conveyor ovens in my shops. One time I had an opportunity to sell pizza at an outdoor concert so I had to rent an oven. All that was available was a deck oven. I made my pizzas just like I always do and the crust just didn’t come out the same. They definitely weren’t pizzas that I was proud of. So from my experience I’ve found that you also need to have a dough that’s tailored to the type of oven that you’re using as well.
The big three use a sheeter. There is no way they are hand doing hundreds of pizzas a day. They sheet them then stretch them a little bit.
I have no experience with a press, so I can’t comment on them and won’t knock them. As far as the big three go, I’m not sure how Pizza Hut does things, but Dominos and Papa Johns do not use a sheeter or a press. They form by hand their hand tossed dough and use pre made par baked dough for their thin crusts. Not sure about PJ’s but Dominos uses par baked pan crusts as well.
It shouldn’t be terribly difficult on your body if your doing it right. If you have time to ‘throw’ pizza’s your not busy enough!!
300+ in a day should not be a problem.
We normally do 300+ in a few hours on a normal Friday/Sat. We hand form, no sheeter, no press… no problem! The key, train all your staff, rotate your staff and have your best staff do the busy times. Training is key.
Isn’t doing 300+ pizzas a day by hand terribly difficult on your body
No it really isn’t that bad as long as the dough is properly proofed.
That being said, I am not a big fan of any of the crusts of the big three. They are acceptable at best
At PJ’s the dough can only be used between day 3 and day 7. It doesn’t surprise me that a dough with a 7 day shelf life isn’t considered very good. I don’t know how long Dominos dough can be used for but I would assume it is similar.
When I hand form, the dough always shrinks a lot. No matter what dough recipe I use I am constantly pushin the edges out and watching them shrink back in. It takes a lot of time to get them to stay put. Whats your secret?
When you first posted about opening a shop a few people commented on the fact you had no experience. Basic dough management is a fundamental part of this job and as you are finding its not that easy (although it is when its up and running and you know what you’re doing). Your recent questions (in a few threads) show that you don’t have this basic knowledge AND you ain’t picking up some of the key points you are being told as well (probably because you can’t appreciate the contents of the posts as yet).
You are effectively trying to learn all this at home. I really suggest you try and either read up more on the ‘whole dough process’ or attend a class if you can to gain this basic experience.
Even if you try to ‘mechanise’ the process you still need to know about the basic dough management process otherwise you’ll experience the same kind of problems.
As a few of us have posted before dough isn’t a ‘make/use product’. It needs time to develop taste and texture. It needs to proof. Its characteristics change over time and with temperature. It will handle and taste differently on day 1 than it will on day 2, day 3 etc
Heres some simple examples based on my dough:
Day 1 - do not use
Day 2 - ideally do not use, very ‘hard’, needs proofing outisde of walkin for several hours to be workable if not as Paul says slapping this will be very hard work. Day 2 dough under proofed dough can be prone to bubble more in the oven if not watched
Day 3 - Our ideal day, needs about an hour out of the walkin - performs much better
Day 4 - as above but can be used straight out of the walkin
Day 5 - our final day - need to watch as it may be over proofed and start to blow in the tray. Some say the taste/flavour profile is best here. The Dough balls will have increased in size and may start to touch other dough in the tray etc etc
Sorry if this comes across as harsh but trying to learn this on the hoof is going to be a slow and time consuming process for you. You need (as suggested before) to have try different dough recipes and use at different times.
You’ve not even mentioned the cooking/taste aspect and I hope you realise that when you move to a ‘proper’ oven it will all change again!
I am first to admit that I am green when it comes to pizza. As far as dough management goes I do have more to learn but I should note that I never use the dough until at least 24 hours after making.
I have learned quite a bit in the last two months and read many many books.
I follow the dough doctors recipe to the “T”. It turns out fine but my problem is it, (like all the recipes) seem to shrink back in on me a bit when forming, perhaps day 3 works better than day 2? It can’t be the recipes because I have done about 12 different pizza recipes and they all pull in a bit.
I think I’m progressing and learning quite a lot. We are going to pizza expo next month, I have watched every video I can find on youtube on pizza, I have read five books on pizza, and I read about an hour a night on pmq. I also make at least two pizzas a week. I have two plus years before I open so I am not in a rush.
Don’t worry about hurting my feelings. I’m here to learn how to open an incredible pizza place. Perhaps I will start taking photos of my pizzas and posting results. I am making a frito pizza tomorrow. I’ll keep you updated.
You should join PizzaMaking.com you will learn A LOT about dough management there. You said you make 2 pizzas a week… you should be making a lot more than that. When I first started about 4 months ago I was making 10-12 every Sunday. For the past two weeks I have been doing 4 pizzas twice a week. Making more will get you more used to how things work. You will get the hang of opening 10 pizzas in a row better then if you were opening 2 pizza a week. Learning comes from repetition, so the more you do it the more you will learn. I start making my dough around 11am on a Friday and make the pies around 2pm on a Sunday, so I get a full two day rise and then about an hour for the dough to rise in room temp. My pies come out pretty good but I always want something to be better then it was before and that is why I make that much dough a week for practice. I am nowhere near where I want to be but I learn something new everyday. Once again go to pizzamaking.com and join there you will learn so much its not funny.
Forgive me if I repeat some of the posts…I didn’t really have time to read all the posts.
We use a dough roller (sheeter) and for no other reason than to form the dough.
If I were to use a dough PRESS it would be to make a thin and crispy crust. We are in missouri and it is known as a st. louis style crust. It par bakes the crust a bit to make it crispier. Similiar to a bonici or tnt crust you can buy from a vendor.
You might want to try a good ol fashioned roller with your recipe and see if you are getting the same results as far as the color goes. Par baked crust do not cook the same as fresh. You may also want to check your sugar. Sugar helps the crust to brown.
Have fun with it…good for you for getting in there and trying to learn a bit before jumping in head first (or would that be debt first) like most folks tend to do.
As for a dough roller sheeter…good luck finding one of them for 500 bucks. Even a used will be around 1500. They are easy to maintain and fix ourselves and even used ones are like tanks. We bought one used 15 years ago and the thing still works like a champ!
I am not sure what kind of oven you will be interested in using but if it is a deck you can buy a stone and use it in your own oven. (I think target sells something, or even pampered chef) It will greatly effect the flavor of your pie.
Take a trip to used equipment shops and just look around. I feel like a kid in the candy store when I go.