Pan Pizza Procedures

Hi there, we switched to pan pizza a year ago which was vital to our business but we kind of winged it by doing so having no experiance with pans before! I just want to know how others do it! We ball our dough, rise a bit, do a first press to open the ball, rise again (under plastic each time) then final press to the edge of pans, put plastic lids on and store in cooler. We then take our dough out preferably 2 hours before use to warm up then gently press a crust out trying not to push the gas out of the dough make pizza and cook…this process is a pain… I also just watched a video on you tube where a pizzeria docked the dough right in the pan…should we be doing this?

I would really like to hear how other places are doing their pan pizza…Please take e time to respond!

Deep-dish dough, if properly fermented (like for 24-hours or more, in the cooler) should not need to be docked. You don’t mention what type of oven you have so I can’t be more specific to a procedure that would work for you. BUT, one procedure that can work with any oven is to make your deep-dish pizzas from a par-baked crust. To do this just open the dough as you are presently doing, except rather than putting it back in the cooler, at that point the crust will be par-baked. A great way to par-bake the crusts is with about 1/2 of the normal amount of sauce on it. Baking time will be around 4-minutes, depending upon the type of oven you have. Immediately upon removal from the oven, remove the par-baked crusts from the pans and place onto screens to cool. There is no need to refrigerate the crusts if they are to be used in the same day. I like to store them in a wire tree rack on pizza screens. To use the par-baked crust, place the crust back into the same size pan it was par-baked in (with a little oil), add the remaining 1/2 of the sauce and dress to the order. Baking time the finish the pizza will be about 4-minutes in an air impingement oven or about 6-minutes in a deck oven. Depending upon the temperature you’re baking at, you might need to do the final bake in the deck oven with a screen under the pan to control bottom crust color.
The produces a great finished pizza with excellent eating properties and little to no dough/crust loss.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

We let our dough sit in the cooler overnight after we press it to the edges and it is good for 3 days in the cooler, max before it starts cooking funny. We are cooking it in a deck oven, and we have to cook on screens. sometimes 2 screens sometimes on 1 screen…just no consistency with cooking and with final product. There is such a small window of consistent cooking its frustrating. if it rises to much and you sauce it it pushes out gas which changes the properties of the finished product. If it’s just not enough warm up time you end up burning the bottom. I tried a method you suggested before Tom that had me ball and cool the balls off, then pull out the next day warm, press, rise then recool allowing cooking straight out of the cooler…which worked on the one batch I did then drastically failed on the next…not sure if my cooler got to cold or what. Is this method I’m using what most people do, or do most ball the dough and rise overnight?

Most of the stores that I’ve worked in mix (80 to 85F targeted finished dough temperature) then go straight to the bench for scaling and balling, then into dough boxes, lightly oiled, cross stacked in the cooler for about 2-hours (depending upon dough ball weight) down stacked and allowed to cold ferment for 24 to 48-hours before using to make the deep-dish pizzas. To make the par-bakes, bring the dough out of the cooler, leaving it covered, allow to temper AT room temperature until the dough reaches 50 to 55F. Press into a greased pan (Crisco works well), cover and allow to proof at room temperature about 70-minutes. Depending upon what you want in the finished crust you might need to allow the dough to proof a little longer or shorter time, can’t think of ever proofing less than 45-minutes, then par-bake as previously directed. Most problems associated with baking deep-dish pizzas are due to temperature related issues. Lack of control on the finished dough temperature, cooler not operating as well as it should be, making the dough in the morning rather than during the evening hours when the cooler will be operating more efficiently, or not allowing sufficient time for the dough to temper to the specified temperature (50 to 55F).
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

So after you cooled for 24-36 hrs did you pull boxes, warm the balls, press and use? Or what was your specific procedure that you used after the balls cooled long enough? (Also par-baking a crust as we speak to try this out)

When you say “press” I will assume that you mean hand pressing into the pan as I didn’t see any reference to a dough press.
After the dough balls have been removed from the cooler and allowed to temper AT rom temperature to 50 to 55F, place a dough ball into a greased pan and press into the pan. Cover to prevent drying and set aside to proof (rise) for about 70-minutes, (the time that you allow the dough to proof (rise) will determine the height and tenderness of the finished crust, with a longer proofing time giving a higher, more tender eating finished crust) apply about 1/2 of the sauce you would normally use then par-bake (450F is a good temperature in a deck oven to par-bake the crusts at). After par-baking remove from the pan and allow to cool on a wire screen. Inventory par-baked crusts in a wire tree rack at room temperature for use during the day. I like to cover the tree rack with a large plastic bag just to prevent any possible contamination during the day. To use the par-baked crusts, place into the same diameter deep-dish pan that the crust was made in, use a little oil in the pan to get a fried crust characteristic. Then apply the remainder of the sauce and dress the crust to the order. Bake as described earlier. When we make par-baked deep-dish pizzas in this manner people have commented that the crust is light and crispy, some have equated it to eating cotton candy, but that might be a bit of an overstatement.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Yes I mean press into pan by hand. Sorry I should have been clearer…What is the other way that you handled dough after cooling for 24-36 hrs when you worked in the other pizza places. Did you warm the dough then press into pans for use right away, or rise it in the pan then put in cooler to use later? This next step after dough has fermented is the part that I have very little ideas as to how others do it… I have tried from balls but havent a clue if I do the following steps correct or not…how do most of the pizza places do it?

Also I have a par-bake on my rack right now I will be trying it out in an hour or so…

I do about the same as you but I do press the dough completely before I dock it in the pan. I do this because I want a thinner more dense crust that the traditional pan pizza. The reason you dock the dough is to “spot weld” the crust together to prevent it from forming bubbles. Bubbles are more of an issue if you are using you dough right out of the cooler.

The other method calls for the dough to be pressed into the pan as described above and allowed to rise/proof at room temperature to a perdetermined height after which it is placed into the cooler where the dough will stabilize and can be held throughout the entire day. The trick here is to determine how much to leave the dough rise out of the cooler since it will continue to rise in the cooler for some time, then when you need a deep-dish dough all you need to do is to remove it from the cooler, dock it, dress it and take it to the oven. Because the dough is colder in this case you may need to experiment with the baking temperature to some extent. This is the method that P.H. used to use, way back when. I’ve still got some of their old original pans that have a horizontal groove formed into the pan to indicate the height to which the dough was to be proofed before being placed back into the cooler.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks Tom! I am trying this out right now to see how it works this time… my dough balls still got a crust on them so I find they press a little funny, should this “crust” be up or down when pressing? I had a finished dough temp of 79 deg.

I always orient the dough ball so the crust or skin, what used to be the top side of the dough ball is down.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thats great to know tom… I must thank you for all the dough help you have given me in the last 2 years, you have kept me in business and for that I am forever indebted to you! What you do here and on is truely wonderful Tom…your a good person!

So I have purchaced a bunch of dough bins and have been experimenting with them. I do 6 per bin and 5 bins plus a bin of 8 small and another with 8 med
I will start my dough at around 50deg and finish temp is 80 ball it quick (although it is very warm in here when we do it) put it in our single cooler and cross stack the best we can but it is tight in there for 2 hrs. Next day we pull the boxes and let them sit for 2 hrs. Dough balls are very risen sometimes the large 14" (625-650g) are touching all edges of the bins. Bins are 16"x24"x3"deep
When we press the dough we oil the pans lightly with canola oil, take the dough ball out and place it in the pan with the ball top facing down in the pan, then press by hand untill the dough is out to the edges of the pan. We then put a plastic pan lid on the pans and stack them for around an hour or untill they have had time to start rising. We then have to remove the lids and gently press the dough back to the edge as it shrinks up a bit. The pans then get put in the cooler for use the next day.
I find when try to use them right out of the cooler they will not brown unless we warm them up for a bit or put them in our pizza display warmer for a couple mins. They will also feel a little doughy sometimes when cutting even after taking around 20mins to cook at 475deg. If I turn up the heat it just darkens the bottom to fast…but it takes 30 mins or more to cook a pizza…makes some customers mad. Now this recipe cooks nice if we ball it on the table…rise…press in pans…rise…finish press and put away. Except the window where we can use it is so small before it over rises.

Question #1 Is this procedure look correct or am I missing a step or something?

Question #2 Does the dough recipe need to be altered for this procedure to work better or should the same recipe work both ways?

Question #3 Should the balls of dough rise as much as they do? They dont always all fill the entire bin some bins there is some space between the balls…sometimes

Question#4 Should the dough be rising in the bins before reaching 50-55deg? Sometimes they puff up to much and “pop” before reaching that temp.

Question #5 am I using to much yeast? The recipe works, cooks, and tastes great when done on the table and cooks wierd if I even later it by 5-10 grams… I’m using 100g instant dry yeast SAF Instant red package

Question #6 Should the crust be browning nice? Sometimes the top doesnt brown at all…

My recipe is as follows:
12500g of water starting at 50deg …80deg when mixed
20000g bag of Robin Hood keynote select flour
Pour water in bowl add 240 grams of sugar and 360g of Salt
Add the flour and sprinkle 100g of yeast on top
Mix for 2 min add in 360g canola oil mix on low 1 more min
Change gears and mix for 9 mins
Add 30g canola oil at the end to free from the bowl remove and ball

I do know it gets pretty hot in here in the summer and should probably do dough in the morning but when you work untill 10 or 11 at night getting up at 5am to do dough isnt in my schedule…

Any help with figuring this out would be great I really want it to work cause it is so nice not having the crust overrising on the rack…
Thanks again for everything!

Thank god I found Toms last post about rising in the pans and then into the cooler

I thought I had lost my mind reading the other options. That’s so much extra work and I don’t understand why it’s worth it

Imho this is the only way to do pan pizza. Extremely simple and fast. We use a sheeter but still same idea.

This works great for a high volume pan pizza shop, I have around 600 pans in my busy shop and we only make dough once a day from about 6am until 11am my dough guy makes all the days dough

It’s always fresh and rarely over 24 hours old

By 2 Day;
It sounds like you are using a reach in cooler, if that is correct the targeted finished dough temperature should by in the 70 to 75F range as opposed to 80 to 85F that would be used in a walk in cooler.
The 3-inch deep dough boxes are too shallow for your dough ball weight, I recommed using the deeper dough boxes. You mentioned cross stacking the dough boxes, or in a reach in cooler we must stack the boxes off set at the ends as there generally isn’t room enough to cross stack, after about 3-hours cross stack time (based on your dough ball weight) the boxes are down stacked (restacked in reverse order so the top box in now the bottom box and the boxes are nested to prevent drying). To use the dough right out of the cooler, 475F might be too hot. Try baking at 425 or 450F. The fact thqat you mentioned that the dough still seems a little doughy is an indication that more baking time is needed. If the botton still gete too dark but everything else is good, try putting a screen under the pan as this will reduce the intensity of bottom heat/bake. Your formula looks good for a deep-dish pizza. Just remember that dough which is baked directly from the cooler must be baked differently than one that is allowed to temper to 50F prior to baking.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Wow more time yet… They already take 20-30 min to cook… This is making it very hard to be timely for pickups and deliveries…I guess we will play with a few things and see what we can come up with… Hope we can make this system user friendly as I have a couple hundred dollars invested in dough bins now… I will definitly use colder water for the dough in the bins and see how that works for the rising… Thanks

Also look into the heat transfer fingers that can be inserted into the dough to improve the quality of bake. PH used to use these at one time. I think they are still available from most pan suppliers or maybe even restaurant suppliers. Some times they are referred to as heat sinks for pizza.
These are inserted into the center of the pizza as it is placed into the oven.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

I’ve used these on Stuffed Chicago Style Pizzas and they work great. Shortens the bake time a bit and ensures the toppings in the center are warm all the way thru. We got ours at a restaurant supplier as well.

I will go see if I can find some of those to try, I just dropped the dough ball size by 50 grams to see if that makes a diff on the doughy factor too…dough is so frustrating…