Hi Tom
I own a pizza takeaway in the UK and have been very successful. I am getting a bit frustrated with my pizzas. After reading a lot of your posts I have realised that our dough isn’t as good as it could be. We use lincoln impinger ovens with radiant finger setup and I would love to know the best dough recipe in your opinion for me to make dough,ball,roll into aluminum trays and refrigerate to use the next day and whether you have any suggestions in the processing to improve consistency and quality. We use fresh yeast and a reasonable flour at about 12%.

I need to know a few things before I can attempt to answer your question.

  1. Exactly, what don’t you like about your present pizza/dough?
  2. What are you baking your pizzas on? What is the color?
  3. What is the top and bottom finger configuration of your oven?
    What is your bake time and temperature?
  4. What ingredients are used in your dough?
  5. You say that you roll the dough into aluminum trays and refrigerate it. Are these the same trays the dough is baked in?
    I may have a few more questions later, but the answers to these should be able to start me thinking.
    Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

dough is made and used on the same day, have figured that we make what you would probably class as an emergency dough. We make our dough by eye and touch which I am in the process of changing as other staff members don’t do as good a job as myself

the aluminum trays are the same ones we bake in. We let proove in tray and bake in impinger II ovens with radiant finger setup…open bottom

Our dough is very nice when baked…light and crispy and good chewyness (firm) but is only like this for a short period… Our dough consists of just water, yeast and flour

In the UK I am having a lot of trouble with the cheese… If we get the top to like nice it is usually too cold and when temp is good and base colour good the cheese turns into a plastic, dark brown sheet which tastes nice but is not great to look at. We use a 80/20 mozzerella/cheddar.

My problem is that I am getting frustrated but we have a very high turnover…I don’t know if that is due to past reputation or whether my customers are used to us and find that taste is more important than appearance. I am concerned that new customers might not be so loyal as it seems to be the trend in the UK to undercook pizzas and sell stodgey food. I am Italian in origin and cook a lot and can’t stand to see anything undercooked for even 30secs…

I would like to have a dough which I can refrigerate in the deep dish pans with metal clip on seperators and proove overnight and use the next day directly from cooler. I know you reccomend dark pans for cooking but I have used both side by side and have found that the aluminum trays give better colour due to the fact that they heat more quickly and retain their heat longer thus getting better heat transfer. We cook for aprox 6mins at 275C I say aprox because our ovens are analogue…1 is at 4.5 mins another at 30 mins hehe

Thanks for your time

I agree with you that you’re going to have to change the way you make your dough. The old guess and by gosh method of portioning the dough ingredients just doesn’t cut it with consistency.
I highly recommend that you begin establishing the weight of each ingredient used and begin weighing them.
I see that you don’t have any salt in your dough formula. This can/does have a great influence on the flavor of the finished crust, making it rather bland and starchy tasting.
As for your oven finger profile, typically, all of the bottom fingers are open, and when radiant panels are used on the top, only some (one or two) are radiant, the rest are impingement panels of some form. Also, the bake temperature is WAY TOO HOT at 275C/527F. I can see why your cheese is burning.
As for your pans, it sounds like you are using a brightsilver colored pan, possibly the worst choice. These pans are intended to be seasoned, which gives then a golden color initially, which turns to a dark brown/black with continued use. The black anodized pans are actually a much better choice as you don’t need to worry about the seasoning coming off if the pans are soaked in hot soapy water for cleaning. The reason for the dark colored pans is because the dark color absorbs the heat, making for a much better bottom bake, at a lower, more efficient baking temperature, where as the bright colored pans reflect the heat away, making it more difficult to bake the bottom of the pizzas (physics 101).
My suggestion is to find out exactly what you have for a top finger profile (all, 100% radiant panels??) I truly think this is wrong, and that something along these lines would be better suited: closed - open- open- closed. The last top finger may need to be adjusted to control the top bake and the cheese color. The baking temperature should be in the 450 to 475F/232 to 246C range, and the baking time should be in the 6 to 8-minute range, or slightly longer depending upon which oven you have. The pans should be black anodized or well seasoned. For flavor and improved dough performance, you should be adding salt to the dough formula. We typically add 1.75% salt based on the weight of the flour. You can make a lot better product, with the characteristics that you are looking for, but you’re going to have to make some changes.
Please keep me posted on your progress.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Hi again,
we do use salt in our dough what we don’t use is oil. I find that the finished pizza is too soft and lacks that crispness that I like. The dough recipe which I have come up with works fine now due to having exact measurements for my staff to copy but I still can’t get a recipe which I can roll into the pans and refrigerate then use the next day directly from the cooler. I have noticed chain stores taking bases directly from cooler and straight to oven and was wondering if there was a sure way of doing this, my dough seems to be too old by the next day and the crust seems patchy/uneven in colour ie. light in places and dark bubbles of dead yeast in others. How can I keep my dough risen in the pan and not die overnight.
My dough formula

100 flour
61 water
0.9 salt
0.9 sugar
0.7 milk powder
0.7 dry yeast

dough is perfect for baking after about 4 hours with no refrigeration and then we refrigerate if sales are slow, and the dough is good for another 6-8 hours. Overnight the dough is fine if left balled but not good if left ready rolled in pans.

PS as for the pans we get good colouration with aluminium, I have tested against black iron side by side and found more heat transfer with Al.

As for time and temp. What exactly is the difference in using lower temp longer time. Do you achieve better bake of the base and therefore retain more crispness once boxed?? We use lincoln impinger II triple stack and sell aprox 1000 pizzas per week and therefore would struggle to alter to slower times as we lack the space to house larger Impinger I’s. we do this amount of trade in only 5-6 hours per night.

I tried the same dough formula the next day with brushed oil left to temper, hand stretched and placed on screen and baked at our same times and produced a wonderfully rustic and very crisp pizza that looked like a high end restaurant’s but was too far a change for me to implement as we are way to busy for such a drastic and maybe detremental change.

Thanks again Tom and it is always nice having a chat

We don’t see much use of steel pans anymore, probably due to rusting of the pans over time. Most of the pans made today, especially the black colored ones are aluminum, with a dark colored anodized finish. Steel and aluminum have essentially the same heat capacity per pound, but a steel pan weighs more than an aluminum one of the same thickness, so the aluminum pan will bake faster than a steel one, and a dark colored pan will absorb heat better/faster than a bright silver colored pan, hence it will bake still faster.
As for your dough not performing after a full night in the cooler, not many doughs wil , if they are fully proofed when taken to the cooler. The trick is to allow the dough to proof for only a portion of the normal time, then the dough will continue to proof in the cooler to it’s normal height, then stop. When properly managed, you can have fully proofed dough ready to use on the following day direct from the cooler. Keep in mind that the oven will need to be reset to bake the colder dough. Normally, this involves a change in the finger configuration as well as a slower baking time at a slightly lower temperature. Simple physics, it takes longer to bake a cold dough than a warm one.
With regard to crispiness and bake time, in almost all cases, a longer bake time equates to a crispier crust, or one that will retain it’s crisp for a longer time.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

thanks Tom,
When I say we put rolled dough in the cooler I mean with no proofing, simply ball rest for 20mins then roll and place in oiled pans. The dough the next day seems very flat and the surface doesn’t look as dry as normal, as if it has sweated slightly and this dough is not as nice to bake. I here what you are saying on the pans though and I will obtain aluminium anodised to try out. Do these need seasoning at all? as we use a de-carboniser to clean our pans regularly and re-season before first use. We have too many pans to wash by hand… 350 or so


Why are you removing the seasoning rom the pans? Is this in response from an edict from your local health department? Why are you washing the pans? Most operatore simply wipe the still hot pans out with a bar towel. The only time the pans really need to be cleaned regularly is when they are sent out to the customer’s table, otherwise, once a week is plenty. With regard to putting the dough up in the cooler, like I said, the usual practice is to allow the dough to rise to some predetermined, specific height prior to putting the dough in the cooler, it will then continue t rise to the “ideal” height before fermentation is arrested by the cold temperature. The way you have described it, the dough isn’t rising. Do you cover the pans of dough in the cooler? This would explain the moisture (sweating) on the top surface of the dough. When the dough is taken to the cooler, you should not cover it for at least two hours.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Yes we get very grubby pans due to flour and oil adhereing to the outside of the pan and health inspectors were not keen. As for the dough we place in pans then cover with clip-on aluminium lids which nest together all the pans. Even if we leave to rise prior to placing in cooler the next day all the height has gone from the dough and we experience the same problem of patchy un-sightly crust. Is there something in the recipe which needs to be altered. I have seen pizza hut operators with stacks of dough pans in their coolers and they simply sauce, top and bake. Is this done by adding agents to their dough or is their dough also prepared on the same day. I am happy with our rtesults but due to the nature of our system we end up with a lot of waste and not it is not 100% consistent, ebenthough it is a lot better now thanks to our chats and all the reading I have been doing here. By the way do you know of any other operator not using oil in their dough?

Like I said, all you need to do is to figure out how much to leave the dough rise in the pan before putting it in the cooler, then take to the cooler (uncovered for 2-hours) after two hours, cover the pans and kiss them good night. The dough won’t sweat and it shouldn’t collapse. What you are seeing is only part of the story, this is how it is done.
I’ve come across a number of operators that don’t use oil in their dough. I don’t know that I agree with them as the oil both contributes a flavor and it also helps to hold some of those wonderful aromas released during baking, which would otherwise be lost. The oil/fat also helps the dough to retain gas both during fermentation/proofing and during baking for improved volume/height due to oven spring during baking, without the addition of oil, the dough will exhibit a tendency to collapse either before or during baking.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor


Is there a typical amount of oil, by percent, that will produce the benefits you mentioned?


Yes, 1 to 2% of the flour weight is all you need for those benefits.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor