Need dough help please.

I have access to a set of Y-600’s and have been working on a New York style dough recipe for baking in them. I started out with All Trumps (mainly because I’ve been told it’s one of the best) as my flour but after my first several pizzas in the deck the crust isn’t turning out the way I want it to. The edges are baking and browning fine but the bottoms are a little too “crackery” to my liking. If eaten right after removal from the ovens you get a very definite “crunch” with each bite. There’s also a little bit of a doughy layer between sauce and crust. Right now I’m baking on screens the entire time at around 550 (tried to decrease to 525 and still got the same crunchy bottoms.

My dough percentages are at:

water 58%
salt 1.5%
oil 2%
IDY 0.5%

Now…a few points to clarify what I’ve done thus far:

-I have been baking them with only sauce, no cheese or other toppings. The ovens I have access to are in a store that’s being closed so I don’t have a full product line to work with and I thought they had cheese left in stock but they didn’t. Until I can get to the local restaurant depot all I have is dough and sauce. Could this be a factor in the bottoms cooking too much causing this crackery feel?

-Is All Trumps used predominantly for this “crispy” bottom? I prefer a bottom with a little less crunch, but I’m not experienced enough to know if it’s the flour, dough formulation, cooking heat/time, or a combination of the three. The son of the owner has shown me the ropes as far as actually making the dough and use of the mixer is concerned, so I’m confident he knows what he’s doing (plus he’s been mixing their dough for a few years…although not All Trumps). If All Trumps is the reason for this, I’m assuming a lower protein % flour is in order?

-I’ve adjusted the top and bottom heat baffles to allow more top heat but it didn’t really make that much of a difference.

Any ideas/feedback/suggestions?

I’m relatively new to the “making your own dough” concept as my previous experience has been in a store that had their dough delivered daily and used conveyors.

Edit: More details…All ingredients are wieghed. The dough is coming out of the mixer at 85 degrees. Scaled, balled then cross-stacked for 90 minutes then nested. Pies made at the 48 hrs mark.

Try decreasing your water a little and increasing your oil. maybe 56%-57% water and 3-3.5% oil. The added oil should yield a more tender crust. Don’t go over board on your oil though as too much oil will make a crust that lacks the “bite” that is characteristic of New York style pie.

Good luck, Bob

Is All Trumps used predominantly for this “crispy” bottom? I prefer a bottom with a little less crunch, but I’m not experienced enough to know if it’s the flour, dough formulation, cooking heat/time, or a combination of the three ?

… traditional “NY style” pizzas do not use sugar or oil in there dough formulas

just to address the dough formula
yes, a lower protein flour will give you a softer dough, All Trumps is one of the highest at 14+ % protein, and the hardest crust
as for the formula, I’d start from simple then move to adding extras
no oil or sugar is needed for good pizza crust, in fact, the best pizzas I have had from artisan makers that use no sugar or oil in there dough( sweetness is developed through fermentation)
I use
12.5% protein flour
62% water
2.75% salt
.75% IDY

I coat the dough balls with olive oil before refrigerating, a 2 to 3 day refrigerated fermentation maximum…if you add sugar, dough can ferment longer in the refrigerator…adding oil, get a heavier, more oily crust…

hope this helps,

Your dough formula looks OK, so the first thing I would do is to “ditch” the screens and bake right on the deck using a 50/50 blend of semolina and pizza flour for your peel release. Then, I would suggest reducing the bake temperature to 525F. And lastly, get a cheap oven thermometer from a hardware store or any kitchen supply store to verify that the thermometer and actual oven temperature are one and the same, or at least similar.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

I’m off to get an oven thermometer. I’ll give the non-screen idea a try as well, but I have no clue as to how to consistently make a 10,12,14 or 16" skin without using a screen without taking too long to do. That’s how I was trained and the only way Ive ever done it.

Thank you for your responses.

that is better advice from Tom Lehmann that changing your dough formula, which looks fine.

as for making it the right diameter, you could draw some circles on the peel the sizes of your pizzas as a guide.
after doing it a while, you probably will not need to rely on them.

Practice, practice, and more practice, that’s all it takes. As a newbie, you might want to consider attending our Practical Pizza Production class scheduled for October 20-24, 2008. In this class you wil have the opportunity to learn all aspects of pizza production, including hand-forming the pizza skins, but you can also use one of our presses, or a sheeter, if you’re so inclined. We also have different ovens to work with too, deck, air impingement, and infrared, and if you want to go the Chicago route, we can also have you baking your pizzas in a reel oven. Watch for our upcoming announcements, or go to our web site at <> for more information. We’ve been offering this course now for about 25-years, so it is probably the longest running pizza course ever offered.
Old trick for sizing your pizzas: Take your wood prep peels and, using your screens, draw concentric circles on them for each of your pizza sizes. I like to use a permenamt marker “Sharpie” in black, to mark the circles. This will give you a ready reference right on the peel.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

ditto on the course offered above in October…
It is all of that and more, I wish I had done it sooner,
can get understandings you may never get from experiences in your own kitchen, ideas that you can benefit from

Thanks for the course recommendation…I’ll keep an eye out for it when it nears.

I took Tom’s advise and purchased two over thermometers. After the ovens got up to temp I noticed they were at about 50 degrees higher than what I thought they were. Very easy fix…thanks!

Baked a few pies in them today on the deck and although the crusts were much better in terms of not being overly crisp…they now seem to be too thin (the rim of the crust was perfect…crisp outside and soft and chewy on inside). I used this dough with only a 24 hour proof, could that be an issue or could there have been another issue (oil %, yeast%, etc) that would prevent the bottom crust from rising at all and giving me a paper thin bottom. I only put cheese and pepp on it and it didnt hold it very well until it cooled and then it firmed up just enough.

I’m using 17.5 oz for a 14" pie.

Any ideas?

How were the skins formed (i.e., by hand or by machine) and did you use a peel or screens?

All by hand and I used a peel for the first couple minutes of baking and then directly on the deck for the final 4 or 5.

I tried not using the screens when forming the skins but couldn’t get the hang of it, it’ll just take more practice which I’ll do once I get the dough right.

I’m not sure I understand how you used the peel. Can you clarify?

Mistype, I meant screen.

Take your wood prep peels and, using your screens, draw concentric circles on them for each of your pizza sizes. I like to use a permenamt marker “Sharpie” in black, to mark the circles. This will give you a ready reference right on the peel."

Holly Cannoli Tom…I love this idea! Thanks:)

Tom…I am having an issue with Dough Boxes for the proofing period. Can you call me to discuss? Creampuff

I think what you have described can be answered in just one word “technique”. This is a common problem with operators new to hand tossing/forming their dough skins. The tendency is to over stretch the dough in the center portion, thus creating the super thin center section. I wish I could describe in words how to stretct che dough without developing the thin center, but it would take a book, where as I can demonstrate it in just a minute or so. When making the next dough skins, try to work more at opening the dough evenly, across the entire dough ball rather than concentrating on stretching it in the center section, I don’t know how else to describe it. Can anyone else come up with some better directions?
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

You had some instructional videos online at one time that were really good at describing the technique . . . are they still online somewhere? They were awfully useful training one of my guys.

I tell me guys to think of a partially opened dough as a series of imaginary concentric circles radiating outward. We need to expand each of the “4 circles” evenly as possible to get a good pizza. Being a big disc, the diameter of each circle will expand differently, but the dough will spread evenly throughout. If we stretch the center-most circle too much, then we get too much dough in the other circles. If we over-stretch the outer circle, then we get chunky center and overcooked edges. Some get the visual, and some don’t. Thankfully, they get it enough to get fairly even dough with only slight thinning in center.

Might check with Liz Barret to see if they still have the pizza prep videos in the archives, if not, I think it would be good to shoot another video showing how to open a pizza dough (at least my version of it). One other thing that comes to mind, when I teach someone for the first time, I have found it useful to either use a sheeter/roller or even a rolling pin to open the dough up to about 2/3 of the full diameter, then finish opening the dough by hand, This goes a long ways towards preventing the development of a thin crnter section. I have found that when taught by this method, the person will use it only for a limited length of time, then they begin to open the dough totally by hand, without pre-sheeting the dough. Look Ma! No thin center section here! It seems to work pretty good for me.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor


I have seen wooden pizza peels that have the 10, 12, 14, 16 18" routed out on them to know if you have the right size.

I looked on the web real quick and could not find them but they are out there. We bought one from a franchise that went out of business years ago but have since got rid of it…

Creampuff; Give me a call (today is best as I will be teaching in a pizza seminar fot the next two days) at 800-633-5137 (ext. 165).
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor