Just add water dough vs. Freshly made dough

Hello! We purchased an existing pizzeria about a year ago. The previous owner had purchased the pizzeria from a Red Brick Franchise, so he had kept many of the same procedures in place but just changed the name and name of the pizzas.

One of the procedures was making dough with a “just add water” pre-mix. We decided to run with the current procedures for a little while to get the hang of things as this is our first time running a pizzeria.

We are currently in the process of innovating the menu by adding some fresh ideas and ingredients. We were currently using a dough press which presses out a perfectly round and even pizza. Great for time as we advertise we can have a small pizza baked fresh in our brick oven within 5 minutes. Plus we are competing with our neighbor fast food chains such as Jersey Mikes, Panda Express and Chipotle. We are ready to break free and offer more authentic looking pizzas so we have been trying out hand tossing.

We love the way our hand tossed pizzas are turning out and so far we are getting some good feed back from regulars. The only downside would be that the crust is a little bit more thin, and it is taking us long to toss and prep, which we can and will eventually have to adjust to.

My concern is that the pre-made dough seems hard to work with by hand. Once prepped it has to sit in the fridge for about a hour before we can begin using it. After the hour, if we leave it sitting out to long (which we might so it can get room temp. so it is easier to work with), it starts to harden.

We are currently using the brand “The Great American”. Making dough from scratch could be an option but I wanted to reach out and get some other opinions. I love this website and all of the great advice so anything would be appreciated.

Thank you!

Make your own dough and hand toss it, there are a lot of tube videos to help.transition is scary but you will be very glad you did, there is a ton of information on your 2 subjects here, you just have to dig deep and ask questions, you can do it ! When i bought my place it was a bankruptcy with no one to show me how to do anything and i had no experience. And no think tank !

If you go into the Recipe Bank you will find a good number of dough formulas to choose from for a starting point. Do you have a walk in cooler? How about dough boxes or 18 X 26 sheet pans?
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thank you for your reply John. We are in a similar situation as the owner before us was not doing so well. Change is scary but I think we will play around with some recipes to see what will work best for us.

Tom, we have actually began watching some videos on making dough from PMQ. It seems very resourceful. We do have a walk-in cooler and dough storage boxes. Our current pre-mixed dough has to sit in the cooler as part of the process as well but we are able to use within a hour. This dough seems to go hard within a day or so.

If you like, I will be glad to work with you to develop a “scratch” dough that meets your needs. We can do this here or you may e-mail me at thedoughdoctor@hotmail.com
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

It sounds like you’re already mixing and balling as it is. Having the time, equipment and space to do that is the hard part. Now you just need a good, consistent recipe.

Here’s my “go to” dough formula. It can be used to make both thin and thick type crusts it has a proven track record of nearly 35-years.
Flour: (12.0 to 12.8% protein content) 100%
Salt: 1.75%
Sugar: (optional) 2%
IDY: 0.375%
Oil: 2%
Water: (variable/ 70F.) 58%

Put water in mixing bowl, add flour and remainder of dry ingredients, mix for 2-minutes at low speed, add the oil and mix 1-minute at low speed. Mix at second speed for 8 to 10-minutes. The targeted finished dough temperature is 80 to 85F. IMMEDIATELY take the dough to the bench for scaling and balling. Place dough balls in plastic dough boxes, brush the top of the dough balls with a little oil, and take directly to the cooler, CROSS STACK the dough boxes in the cooler for 3-hours then down stack the boxes so they are sealed and allow the dough to cold ferment for 18 to 36-hours before you begin using it. To use the dough, remove from the cooler, leaving it sealed closed, and allow the dough to temper AT room temperature until the dough reached 50 to 55F. Remove dough ball from box and open into pizza skins by your preferred manner. DO NOT RE-BALL THE DOUGH BALLS. If re-balling is necessary there is a separate procedure for that. The skins are now ready to dress and bake.
Things to keep in mind:

  1. Scale and round the dough in not more than 20-minutes. If you need more time than that make smaller dough sizes.
  2. This dough lends itself very well to per-opening, placing on pizza screens and holding in the cooler on a wire tree rack for use later in the day. If you do this just be sure to cover the rack with a suitable plastic bag to prevent drying. To use the pre-opened skins remove from the cooler and allow to warm at room temperature for about 20-minutes, they will then be ready to dress and bake.
  3. If making a thick crust or deep-dish pizza adjust the scaling weight and place the opened skin in an oiled, dark colored deep-dish pan, cover with a sheet of plastic, and allow to proof/rise for 45 to 75-minutes depending upon the crust thickness you are looking for. Adjust the baking time and temperature as needed to ensure a thorough bake.
    Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks, you guys are awesome! I really appreciate the feedback. Working with my partner, he wants to try to give the pre-mixed dough one more try as he believes this is more cost efficient. We may not be letting it sit in the fridge enough to settle. The instructions state to let it sit for at least 12 hours and it has been being pulled out with in a hour. I am not sure if this will improve our current dough.

I am still going to attempt to make the dough fresh, as at the end of the day, our product represents our company. Thank you for your recipe Tom! Do you use regular Flour or is there a certain brand we should be looking for or are we good as long as it has 12.0 to 12.8% protein content?

Thank you again for your responses! :slight_smile:

I think mixing your own dough is more cost effective. Before we took over our current location a pre mix was being used and it was almost double the price of mixing our own. Plus you can advertise that you make your own dough from scratch. I don’t advise you to use your dough the same day you mix it that is not enough time for fermentation try using it the next day and see if it is better for you.

You can use any bakery grade flour in that protein range. It is also know as a strong bread flour. For comparison purposes the General Mills Full Strength brand fits the bill.
Also, 1-hour in the cooler before using the dough? Heck, it hasn’t even begun to cool down much less ferment to mellow the proteins making for a dough that is pliable enough to be formed into a pizza skin. If you are going to continue working with the dough mix that you have, be sure to achieve the targeted finished dough temperature recommended by the mix manufacturer. A dough that is formulated specifically for use with a pizza press should have either “dead yeast” or L-cysteine/PZ-44 in the formulation (check the ingredient declaration on the bag) to facilitate the necessary relaxation of the dough for pressing without unwanted snap-back. If it is not there, shame on someone. If it is there you really want to pay close attention to the finished dough temperature as it will have a significant impact upon the way the finished dough handles at the press. Also, as mentioned in my above post, you really need to make sure you allow the dough to warm to at least 50F after you remove it from the cooler when using a press, the reason for this is because the cold dough will be very stiff/hard and difficult to press even with one of the reducing agents mentioned above.
I hope this helps.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor