question for the dough doctor

Hi Tom, it was great to meet you at the pmq and again thanks for all the advice out there. A few questions.

  1. I saw a Somerset dough rounder with a small footprint that I liked. The thing is I’m doing CHicago cracker crust and deep dish. Do dough balls for cracker crust get rounded?
  2. Do you think a rotoflex oven is a good fit for this style of pizza?
  3. I know cracker crust is lower temp longer cooking. What temp is ideal? Does par cooking negatively affect quality? Do you recommend screens for this pizza?

There are different ways to make a Chicago style thin crust, one method calls for making a low absorption dough, arounf 40 to 45% absorption and opening the DOUGH BALL using a sheeter/dough roller, while the other method calls for making a dough with about 50% absorption, but mixing the dough only for 1.5 to 1.75-minutes thus producing a very dry or “shaggy” dough characteristic. This latter type of dough cannot be rounded, but instead it is manually formed into “pucks” by pressing the dough together with your hands in much the same manner as pie dough (such as for fruit pies) is made. Most operators seem to choose the dough ball method for producing this type of crust, so if that is the case, the dough baller will be appropriate for your application in both thin and thick/pan Chicago style pizzas. As for oven selection for this type of pizza, traditionally a reel type oven is used (Fish, Reed, Middleby-Marshall, etc.) with a solid baking hearth as opposed to an open mesh hearth, I think the Rotoflex oven would also be a good option if it provides sufficient baking capacity, remember, your baking times will be on the long side, typically averaging 25 to 30-minutes for a thin crust and 40 to 45-minutes for a thick crust pizza. As for baking temperature, I normally go with 475F.
We have done some work looking for ways to reduce these long baking times and to date, the best option we have come up with is par-baking the crusts for both the thin and deep-dish varieties. This seems to work amazingly well in this application with baking times reduced to something in the 6 to 8-minute range for pizzas baked on a par-baked crust. Using par-baked crusts the air impingement oven can now be effectively used to make these great tasting pizzas in a very efficient manner. When we do the deep-dish or stuffed pizzas in an air impingement oven we have found that par-baking the crust with the cheese, and sausage applied for about 4-minutes works well, immediately upon completion of the par-bake step the pizza is finished and placed back into the oven for about another 4 to 5-minutes to complete baking. We have demonstrated this at our annual pizza seminar for the past several years with good success. The thin crust is par-baked with only a small amount of sauce on the crust to help control bubbling (look for about 4-minutes baking time), then as soon as it exits the oven it is given the final dressing and sent back through the oven again for the final/finish bake (about 4-minutes). The resulting thin crust pizzas are almost cited as being more crispy than the traditionally baked pizzas. This can be either a good thing, or a bad thing, you will have to decide on that, or should I say your customers will have to make that decision.
As for baking platforms, screens or Hex Disks will work well for the thin crust and a dark colored deep-dish pan is required for the deep-dish or stuffed pizza.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks so much Tom, big help. Follow up questions sorry:

  1. Do you have to bake thin on screen or will it get too crIspy on deck? Can I par bake crusts without sauce ahead of shift if I roll a docker over skins before baking?
  2. How many oz dough ball would you use for 10, 12, 14" pies?
    Again thank you so much I’m sure you get tired of all the questions.

If you will be par-baking without sauce I think it might be a little easier to do directly on the oven deck, but with sauce it is easier on a screen. Also, you may need to manually invert the pizzas about half way through the baking cycle to get a decent bake (all ovens are different in this respect). Dock’m good.
As for dough weights, I normally use 10-ounces of dough for a 12-inch round crust. This gives you a dough loading of 0.0884-ounces per square inch of calculated surface area. Use P X r squared to find the surface area of any other diameter or (L X W for square or rectangular shapes) and multiply the surface area by this dough loading value to find the weight of dough needed.
Example: 14-inch diameter.
3.14 x 49 = 153.86 square inches of surface area. 153.86 x 0.0884 = 13.6-ounces (call it 13.76-ounces).
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor