Handling Dough from Walk-In to Baking

How are most of you handling your dough?

Unless we are doing pre-skins, we pull from refrigeration and make the skins right away and bake. Most all the literature contained on this site talks about pulling from the refrigerator and letting it sit out anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple hours before using it. Is letting it sit out just an optimal condition but not necessary? Seems a lot of dough would be wasted by doing this given there is no exact way of knowing what will be used.

If you are not letting it sit out before skinning, where do you keep the dough that you will be using? Do store it upfront in a prep table? If so, do you put it back in the walk-in at the end of the night?

I would like to know also. We do the same thing you do.

I keep boxes of dough made up in the walk in. I keep one box in the bottom of the prep table. I pull from it as needed and replace it when empty. If not empty I leave it in there for the night. When it gets empty the next day…I just grab another one.

I bake my pizzas in pans. I ball the dough,cover it and let it rise for 45 minutes the press it into the pans by hand. I cover and let it rise for another 45 minutes and press it out again by hand. I then place the pans in the walk-in cooler with a cover on each pan. I take the pans directly from the cooler and put the sauce and toppings on and into the oven.

I know this will make some of you cringe but that is how I do it.

keep a running total each day of how much of each size you use, also the hrs used.(real easy if u use a POS, not to hard with pizza tickets tho. jsut keep a binder and a sheet that you put totals in for each day and hr.)

example. On Thurs from 5-6pm you used 17 larges and 12 mediums.

Keep those notes from week to week. after a few weeks you will have a pretty close number to how many you use on any given day at any given hr. Pull out an hr or so before you will need it and boom you are golden.

During busy evenings. pull what you need from 5-7 at about 4 to make sure you are set for the night. Set up I was use to, is. Those trays are wheeled under the slap table with a cover tray. That way the slapper just bends down and gets a new tray. Plus he can tell when it is time to get someone to bring more out of walkin if extra busy.

The more weeks that get put in the closer the number gets. PLus you can go back and look for holidays and such to know how much and when during special weeks.

This is using fresh dough that is retarded for 2 days in the walkin. That way if there ever is a big order there is enough dough in the walkin for it, and you just need to make more for the next day.

I can figure averages and charts but since there really is no way to know you are either going to be throwing away dough every night or serving sub-par product when you have to take directly from the walk-in. I’ve only been in the pizza business a couple years but I have not seen anyone doing this yet.

if it seems slow wheel a few trays back in the walkin. they still good the next day.

Did this as a manager at a few pizza places helps with speed. Was part of how you are trained at Papas and Dominos. After an hr or 2 the dough is perfect for stretching by hand and putting on a screen.

Also worked at a NY stlye place that had the dough on trays in the make table. Kept cool in there and just pulled as needed. Worked fine also, but wasnt about volume so much except during the lunch slice business.

Only place I ever worked that pulled straight from walkin was a major chain here in cinci that uses frozen dough straight onto the screen. Was fun when the dough was warped a bit trying to sauce a frozen disc hehe.

In the end it comes down to whatever works best for your outfit.

The 20k a week Papas we needed to have dough out and ready to use. Cold dough was just to hard to work with during volume hrs.

We almost never had trays go bad. With constant reports its science not art on how many you need, . Really only time dough went bad, was day crew when it was dead. sometimes in afternoon some dough would proof to much.

wow this is coming off a bit like i am fighting. I am not lol. Just posting how it was done during my years of running shops.

I appreciate the input Baughman.

The issue has really come to the forefront because one of our stores does not have a walk-in. The store was purchased about two years ago and they used one reach-in for storing dough immediately after making it and then had another up front to work from. Well, sales are up about 65% now (25% is added sales from expanded menu) and we do not have the room in a separate reach-in to keep it closed. Plus, it would be too full to cool the dough fast enough anyway. This store’s crust is just not as good as the others and we’ve exhausted just about all other possibilities. I started reading about dough handling again to look for improvements or solutions.

Did a batch two days ago at another store and immediately put it in their walk-in and then baked it off the next day and today at the problem store. What a huge difference it made. The crust is so much lighter, airy and more flavorful.

The store is only 1250 sq feet so we are looking into getting a Polar King outdoor cooler that would attach to the building wall with an access door to the inside. There is a lightly used alley behind us. I’m hoping the city will not have a problem with it because we would pick up so many square feet as we could also eliminate at least a 3 door and 2 door refer.

If I am not mistaken the main reason for pulling dough out and letting it sit at room temperature is to aviod bubbles when cooking. pretty sure that is what Tom L. said at Vegas last year when I went.

Now as a side note if you are hand streching the dough it easier to work with after sitting out. As far as sitting out, anything after 4 hours has to go no matter what according to our health department.

I’m sure its all dependent on the recipes but bubbles are not a problem for us. Imo, I think a few well placed bubbles looks good :wink:

It’s gonna depend on you prep table, we use a 3-door true unit & have 3 size dough balls. We generally pull out 3 trays of smalls for lunch, about 30 balls. As the dough warms up it will decrease the bubbles, (I also read this & I agree that the dough will bubble more with a colder dough ball, or at least with my dough it does).
Anyways, after the lunch rush we simple put the dough balls back in the prep unit. The only balls we have a problem with are the Large balls (22oz) even w/ 6 balls to a tray they blow up pretty quick after the first 24hrs if you’ve let them sit out too long.
Haven’t had to toss any out in a long while though. Charting your usage it a must though, you need to know how many you’ll usually run through in a given day, the levels should be set at 1-2 trays over “par” to eliminate any need for “emergency / hot batch of dough”.


We generally have two days worth of dough in the walkin. We will bring out about the right amount for dinner at around 4PM. For whatever reason, our dough does just fine going from walkin to oven it is just a little harder to handle. We almost never have to throw any dough away and have never run out in going on 10 years. When we throw out dough it is from overproofing in the walkin (about 3 days) not from taking dough out to warm before use.

“I think a few well placed bubbles looks good ;)” I will second this statement.

There are a couple of reasons for allowing the dough to temper at room temperature (typically 60 to 90-minutes) between coming from the cooler and going to the perp-table.

  1. Cold dough right out of the cooler can be a real “bear” to open by hand. The tempering period really helps a lot in this department.
  2. It is well recognized that a cold dough going into some ovens poses a significant problem with bubbling.
  3. When cold dough is formed with a sheeter/roller, there is less of a tendency for the dough to bubble than when using other forming methods.
    Dough dockers come in handy when using cold dough to control the bubbling problem.
  4. Dough that is allowed to temper at room temperature for the correct length of time typically do not exhibit a tendency to bubble, and they do not need to be docked. No bubble popper and no dough dockers needed.
    In some ovens, cold doughs exhibit a tendency to forming a gum line under the sauce. This is seldom the case when dough is tempered.
    As for what to do with the dough once it has been tempered and is ready to begin using, the dough can be used for up to a three hour period of time after it has been tempered, and any dough not used within this time can be fully shaped, placed on a screen, and stored on a wire, tree rack in the cooler for use later in the day.
    Its really not hard to manage the dough in this manner, if you have seen us at any of the pizza shows, or if I’ve worked in your store, you have probably witnessed it first hand.
    Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor