Life's a beach: Is there a dough doctor in the house?

Hi all. We just opened a small pizza joint in between two fishing villages in the Yucatan Mexico. I have reviewed a number of the forums and posts specifically related to dough and there are some unique challenges that we have encountered here in Mexico that I have not seen addressed elsewhere.

We are having quite a challenge getting workable dough.

First issue is that 000 and high gluten flour is not available. The best I can get is called “reposada” and is a “strong” flour but I would guess somewhere between all purpose and bread flour in the gluten content area. Likewise we can’t get Vital Wheat Gluten or similar additives to add to the flour.

As we are located beachfront the humidity is quite high as is the temperature. This has created a number of issues, but most importantly, it is not feasible to construct a walk-in cooler for the purposes of proofing dough. The best we can offer is a room with an air-conditioner (on good days we can get the temp down to about 77 degrees if the electricity stays on). I have not see any posts regarding what to do if you can’t proof the dough overnight in a walk-in cooler. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

The first couple of batches of dough we so sticky that they had to be thrown out (no amount of flour added to the mixer seemed to help) We used the following calculation:

Flour 100%
Water 56%
IDY (.5%)
Salt (1.5%)
Oil (2%)
Sugar (1.5%)
Total (147.5%)

We also adjusted water temperature to give us a DDT of 80-85.

The dough we produced was so sticky that it was suitable for adhering tiles to the floor. Next we tried the same but reduced the water to 42%. Better but not great.

Any help and thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks much! 8)

This might help you get your room with the air conditioner colder:

It’s called a cool bot and it allows your air conditioner to go as low as 32 degrees to be used in a walk in cooler. I have one in both my walk in coolers and they work great!

As far as help with your dough goes, you want to talk with Tom Lehman. His nickname’s “The Dough Doctor”. He’s an expert and should be able to help you. He posts in this forum quite a bit.

I gotta agree with Roger about the coolbot. Our project this past winter was to construct a custom walk-in powered by the coolbot. IT WORKS LIKE A CHAMP!!! We’ve had it running for 4 months now, no problems, a constant 35 degrees. Total investment less than $800 for a 9x6x10 walk-in.

is coolbot allowed by your local health dept?

I’ve passed 2 health inspections with no problems. They didn’t even mention anything about it.

When I first took over my store the way of making dough by the previous owner was to make it around 10am and start rolling it at 3pm. They made the dough up in the mixer and covered it with a sheet of plastic and left it for the 4 hours or so to proof. We experience very hot weather in summer (40 c +) but they didn’t have any sticky dough problems mainly because they use water that had been refrigerated down to about 2 degrees celsius.
I changed to making te day before and putting in the coolroom overnight before using the next day.
As you don’t have a coolroom I would look at using refrigerated water and see if that helps the situation.
Also be sure you aren’t over mixing the dough as this can cause sticky dough. We do 25kg batches on a slow rotation for 8 minutes forward, 3 minutes backwards and 2 minutes forward again and this works fine for us. If it is realy hot weather we do 7, 2, 1.5 minutes.



Here is a link to the Tom Lehmann’s Pizza Crust for Home Baking. That might be a good starting point for creating a recipe using lower-gluten flour.

Hopefully, Tom will be along with the baker’s percentages and other advice for you.

El Beachstro;
“El Medico de la Masa” to the rescue.
Having worked extensively in Mexico over many years, I can say that lack of dough refrigeration is the least of your problems. The main problem has to do with excessive starch damage in your flour. Mills in Mexico mill their flour to a high level of starch damage, resulting in high dough absorption, but no tolerance to fermentation. The mechanics are as follows: The damaged starch has a great affinity for water (hence, the high absorption) then the damaged starch is readily hydrolized to sugars by the enzymes present in the yeast, as a result, the water the starch is carrying is freed up, resulting in a wet, fluid, sticky dough. The only solution is to make your pizzas from dough that has received a minimum of fermentation time. Typically, one hour is about all you can hope for. Which means, mix, shoot for a finished dough temperature of 80 to 85F (26 to 29C) immediately scale and ball, oil the dough balls, cover with plastic, allow to rest at room temperature for 30 to 45-minutes, then begin opening into dough skins for immediate use, or maybe better yet, open into dough skins, and par-bake. The par-baked crusts can be stored for up to three days at room temperature. After that, mold will become a potential problem on the crusts.
Tip: If you can get some of the same flour that a mill is making for Bimbo, it will have a much lower level of starch damage and perform much more like a U.S. flour. That is probably a remote possibility in your area as I am not aware of any Bimbo Bakeries near to you, much less a flour miller. Most of the flour in your area is probably coming in from D.F. or Oaxaca as opposed to coming in from a mill located in Baja or Monterey (where most of the flour mills are located). If you do have a flour mill fairly near to you that IS milling flour for Bimbo, please let me know.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

A big Muchas Gracias to everyone that responded. The next time I am back in the US I am going to pick up a coolbot just for the principle of the thing! If we get big enough it would be a great solution for our veggies etc.

El Medico de la Masa: Just when I thought controlling the bugs and not passing out from the heat was enough!!! :smiley:

Would reducing the amount of water I am using help to compensate for the starch damage.

I am looking into the millers in the Yucatan to see if: 1. We have any locally and 2. If they might supply to Bimbo. Research tools here in the fishing village (along with electricity, cell coverage, and internet) are all a bit sketchy.

I am not familiar with the process of par-baking the skins. I am using a commercial deck oven running about 300C. A complete pizza with toppings etc with a nice brown color and crispy crust takes about 8 minutes. What would I need to do to par-bake the crusts. Will par-baking dry out the crusts so the inside of the outer edge is not chewy anymore?

Thanks again for all your help!

Sorry to say, no, reducing the dough absorption isn’t the answer. Life without fermentation is the only solution. Bummer!
As for par-baking, yes, it will help to produce a more crispy crust than you are presently getting. Your baking temperature of 300C/572F is a bit on the high side for your product, especially if you want to par-bake your crusts. I’d recommend dropping the bake temperature to 260 to 274C/500 to 525F. You can then open your dough balls, apply a very light application of olive oil over the entire surface, then apply a light application of sauce to the dough skin, leaving about a 1/2-inch (12-mm) edge without sauce. Then bake just until the dough begins to color. Coola and store the par-baked crusts on a wire tree rack on pizza screens. To use the par-baked crusts, just add a little more sauce, then dress to the order in the normal manner, and bake. Let me know how this works for you.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

We will be giving the par-baking a try this weekend and I will let you know how it goes. We continue to search for a flour that is of a better quality but nothing to report yet. Seems the vendors don’t check their e-mails all that often. :roll:

The search continues . . .
This is an update as of June 8, 2010.
We took a trip to the local supermarket in the town next to us (Progreso, Mexico) and interviewed the commercial bakery department. In all of the bread that they produce they add in products from a company called Puratos (many different products, dough conditioners and flours).

After an additional 3 interviews with the the bakers (the last one with an interpreter), several hours on the internet and 2 calls to Mexico City here is what we learned:

Puratos has a traveling vendor in our area (yeah!!!). We were able to purchase a product called Puratos Easy Hamburger 100 (the product used at the supermarket) and Toupan ActiPlus.

Using the information gained from our interviews we were able to mix 50% Easy Hamburger, 2% ActiPlus and 50% harina blanco (regular flour) and got our first batch of dough that wasn’t blown. We used 47% water and might back that down to around 40-42% based on the information we got from our interviews and the labeling on the product. We fermented for 45 mins and started cooking. The dough was better than anything we have produced to date. Still not hand tossable but. . . After 4.5 hours at room temperature (still fermenting) the dough was not blown. We are going to meet with the vendor in 2 weeks and learn if they have a better product for our needs.

We will keep you posted.

Para mi amigo en El Salvador: … efault.htm
Puratos de El Salvador SA de CV

Boulevard Venezuela
Esquina Calle Lorea, Local 4
Contiguo a Iglesia del Carmen
San Salvador

Phone: ++/503/298.56.00
Fax: ++/503/279.34.38

We will keep you posted on our progress.

At those dough absorption levels, there is no doubt about it, your flour has a very high level of starch damage. I don’t know if you’ll ever be able to do much in the line of tossing your dough, but sheeting it to about 3/4 of the desired diameter, and then hand stretching it to the full diameter should be possible. In the meantime, do keep looking for a commercial flour made for pan Bimbo or McDonalds.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Hi Tom,

Hope this post fits into this thread.

I would really appreciate if you can help solve my dough problem that may be similar to this. I came across this thread while searching for recipes using Vital Wheat Gluten. My aim is to create a NY Style Pizza and for this I require a High Protein Flour. I am from India and unfortunately I have not been able to find anything with over 11-11.5% protein. Vital Wheat Gluten is widely available at the bakery supply stores and have incorporated this in my recipes in a similar manner to how you have stated

Here is the formulation I used:

  1. A.P. Flour (10.5% Protein) 100% - 596 grams
  2. Vital Wheat Gluten to achieve a 15% protein - 54 grams (dont know exact protein in my vwg i assumed 65%)
  3. Water 62% - 370gms + 60 = 430gms grams because of additional gluten. I took less than one and a half times the weight of gluten which you recommend so maybe I am wrong here. Water used was room temperature.
  4. IDY 0.25% - 1.5 grams
  5. Salt 1.75% - 10 grams
  6. Oil 1% - 6 grams
  7. Sugar 0.55% - 3.3 grams

I kneaded the dough by hand for a few mins before I scaled, balled & oiled them. They immediately went into the refrigerator over night.

The dough balls seemed flat the next day and I while I was able to hand stretch them a bit it always felt like it would tear and it did tear when I went really thin. This dough formulation has been better than my previous attempts but just does not feel right for a hand tossed dough both strength and extensibility wise. Rolling it is not an issue but that is not what I am after :frowning:

Could it be that there is excessive starch damage in the milling process here as well and I have to make do without long fermentation ?

I do know that a “world reknowned chain” here uses vital wheat gluten in their dough formulation and also hand tosses their doughs.

Help would be much appreciated.


Your 10.5% protein flour will probably take about 50% absorption (596 X 50% = 298 grams/ml)
and the amount of VWG needed to bring the total protein content up to 15% would be 7.5% of the flour weight, or 44.7 grams. To correct for the absorption properties of the VWG you will also need to add an additional 67.05 grams/ml of water.
Because you’re hand mixing, all of the water should be at 80 to 85F/26.6 to 29.4C.
Put the water in the bowl first, then suspend the IDY in the yeast and let it hydrate for 10-minutes. Add the flour, salt, and all other ingredients. Mix by hand until a dough begins to form. This should only take a couple of minutes. Cover the dough with a sheet of plastic and set it aside to ferment for two hours. Then turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead for about 2 or 3-minutes, adjusting the dough by adding more flour if it is too wet, or adding a little more water if it is too dry. The dough should be soft, don’t worry if it is not smooth. Now you can divide the dough into individual pieces and form into balls. Oil each dough ball and place them into individual plastic bags. Twist the open end of the bag to close and tuck the twisted “pony tail” under the dough ball as you place it into the cooler. Allow the dough to ferment in the cooler overnight. On the following day, remove the dough from the cooler and allow it to temper AT room temperature for about 1-hour, then turn the dough out from the plastic bag into a bowl of flour and begin opening the dough into a skin. I like to do this with a rolling pin to PARTIALLY open the dough, then finish opening the dough by tossing it or hand stretching.
Let me know how this works for you.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Hi Tom,

Your suggestions have definitely increased the strength (extensibility of my dough). I was quite comfortably able to stretch a 11.5 oz dough ball to a 12" pie without it tearing. Now I can practice my hand tossing finally :D. Was it both the higher hydration or lower absorption and lack of fermentation perhaps in my method of preparing that was not working?

I baked the below pie at 240 C directly on a stone for about 7 mins and I am quite satisfied with the result. However it was a little too crispy to “fold” easily which is what I would like in this NY style pie. Would it help if I cooked it at 300 C for 4-5 mins to achieve this characteristic?

Thanks very much.


Yes, baking the pizza at a higher temperature (300C) for a shorter time will result in a thinner bottom crust that is more easily folded, and it will be a bit chewier too.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor