Skin Management

Im fairly new to the pizza business and have only been open about 6 months. Took some time to work out a decent process around prepping doug, sauce, and other things, but probem that still eludes me is how to prep enough skins for a night that can be busy. And if its not busy, I dont want to lose the skins, and would like to use the next night if i could. I always make my dough balls the night before and take dough balls right from the frig to be pressed in my dough press(heated on top only) … I then finish off with a little tossing, slap on a screen and then throw on the conveyer … turns out a nice pizza. To get ready for a busy night, I might pre-prep 10 skins (which I would like to be around 30-40) and put them in rack with plastic cover (they last a couple of hours if not used). A couple of questions for the tank …
Q1 … how can I pre-prep more skins and still have a quality tasting pizza … they only last a couple of hours in room temp and if I throw in frig to keep from going bad, they cook up different and dont seem to have same quality rise or taste.
Q2 … the skins that are prepped but arent used that night … what can I do with them?

Thanks for any and all help …

That’s a difficult question.

Any place I’ve ever worked for in Pizza always discards any pre-made skins that were not used in the shift that night, because of what you mention about dough quality loss as it sits prepped at room temp or put back in the walk-in already stretched.

At my place…unused skins get tossed…but luckily our sales have been pretty consistent, so give or take 5 or 6 skins…we almost always know how our sales day will go…so waste is minimal.

Why not just make them after the orders come in? How long does it take you to stretch, sauce and cheese and throw in the oven?

A Fast Pizzamaker should have a pie made up and in the oven in 30 seconds or less.


Make 2 or 3 and rack them, and have them ready to go.

I believe that I’ve never met a Fast Pizzamaker. Our shop during the rush hours can have trouble keeping up even with 15 large (16") skins pre-stretched to start the shift. I guess it is a matter of volume and timing. We aren’t putz’s about getting pizzas built . . . just get bum rushed on Fridays . . . we never know when or for how long . . . but it is going to happen.

The question asked is the mystery for the ages, I believe. We all have to find the balance between preparation and waste. Our shop has a pretty reasonable trend of dough usage on busy nights. It’s the freak “off night” like Tueday that turns gruesome that we have run into troubles.

Ti wit . . . we stretch skins and hold at room temp until needed. We experience the two hour decline in bake quality as well. We will keep in a cooler for a bit during warmer months if they sit for a while waiting for the rush. Drying and gumming are common pitfalls we experience . . . and we either make staff pies or discard the remaining dough at night end. We have not found a reclamation technique yet. Not really good even for stromboli once stretched and sat for a couple hours.

Mine are all done as ordered. No pre-sheeting unless I have a large order. I can get a pie in the oven in under a minute, and so can most of my employees. It takes longer to make a sandwich than a pie.

I don’t know if our dough is different or what but we roll out our allocation everynight prior to opening. Like on a Friday we will roll out 120 x 13" lge, 25 x 10" small, 36 x 15" family and 15 x 18" Jumbo. 40 large go on the rack above the make bench and the remainder go on individual stand racks, which are covered in garbage liner bags.

We have no problem with skins drying out or anything else, but we NEVER keep anything for the next day. The biggest thing is anticipating what is needed for each night. We have a chart for each day for each size and roll out to that. Sometimes we have one of those disaster quiet days when we heaps left but on the whole we either run out or only discard a minor amount.

Due to a different workforce to yours we can’t rely on having to roll out on order,especially on busy nights. We just don’t have or can get staff who are dedicated to making bases etc for a living like the way your system works. In saying that we adapt to what works for us and our sales levels and customer satisfaction and recommendations speak volumes for what we are doing. Horses for courses.

It took us ages to get it right on what to roll up and we changed things around from time to time until we thought we had it right, then we go and do it all again, fine tuning as you go. You just need time to get the feel and this means a whole year as each season varies in the amount you do as it does on everynight of the week. It will come to you in time.

Probably the best way to go is roll out as you need on quiet nights and on busy nights roll out 10 or 15 initially and then top up as you use them to keep a balance until it starts getting quiet and then use them up. Little or no wastage.


We do skins as the orders come in. With a few hundred pies on a busy night that is really the only way to manage it. We might pre-toss 30-40 on a big night, but will only cover the first 45 minutes of the dinner rush. A fast skin tosser can handle all the skins for a 50-60 pie hour without difficulty.

Ah, but can two people manage that 60-pie hour from skins to topping to deck oven tending to boxing and cutting? That’s where the variations in the kitchen operations are probably most obvious. We have staff of 4 running the Friday kitchen. The zone defense usually has me and my pizza guy running that station. We are pretty good, but without 20 0r 30 pre-stretched, we get into the weeds pretty quickly. A couple 20-topping pies will stop us dead in our tracks, though, regardless of preparation. Haarvik or RobT, Get one of THOSE in the oven in under a minute :slight_smile: Yeah, we can do most pies from start in 45 seconds or so each when we are on our game.

Conveyor is a definite advantage in high volume hours . . . less labor spent tending . . . more time available to manage dough and build the pies.

all this said, it still begs the original question. Dough management. To run skins from ball to flats, you GOTTA have them out and proofing/warming long enough to soften and become pliable. If you take out your whole allotment prior to the shift, and then have a slow shift, you got blown dough issues. They last longer in ball form, but still have to be managed with an experienced hand to get it warm in time to use . . . and still not blow out excessive dough.

Thanks all … The more I read, the more I find out that Im not the first to run into these issues. Its been very hard for me to determine the skin need for a night because its my first year and with the financial crisis, the economy going bust, the sky-rocketing price of gas/cheese/flour … all these things make for a very unpredictable consumer. I have gotten to a point though that Friday and saturday need to be over prepped no matter what. I have a small staff and if we get behind on a good night, we will never recover … so prep prep prep!!!

Thanks again for the input!!

Nick … on the dough management comments … for me, I leave dough in the frig until im going to stretch. I have a dough press and the top plate is heated. I take dough from frig to press … press and toss … slap on screen. I used to had all kinds of issues trying to work out how many balls to bring out to warm up before skinning. I use the dough press 80% for pressing and warming up dough … I toss the rest of the way … works real nice!!


from fridge to dough press, have you tried dough relaxers to avoid the extra slapping? It should press the correct size so you can lay on screen and dress. Why are you tossing further? What dough press do you use?

I use dough xpress dm-18. heated on the top only. manuall press.

To answer your question, depending on the dough and the exact amount of time its had in the frig over night and the room temp and the alignment of the stars (just kidding) … it may stretch out to the exact size or it may have some bounce or there might be some areas aroung the rim that flatten a little thinner than others , ect, ect, ect. So the slight hand tossing and rim stretching at the end makes sure everything is right with the world. Do you use a press and get skins exaclty how you want them right out of the machine? If so, can you tell me your process for 16" large pizzas including the dough ball size? would be much appreciated?


It may well be my ignorance of the presses that I am working from. I’ve not used or seen them in action . . . just read about their use. Wouldn’t warmed dough work better in a press than chilled dough? I am guessing it doesn’t have to be as slack as hand tossing, but seems that cold dough is cold dough . . . tight proteins are tight proteins . . . in terms of dough structure and performance after being pulled into a huge disk from cold state versus warmed state.

Please do educate me, I am not at all an educated pizza guy on that equipment. That’s all still high dollar stuff in my world.

you are correct, warmer dough would press easier. But in the balance of things, taking from frig eliminates managing the dough balls in room temp plus the skins i make … now all i have to manage is the skins. Also, because my model has a top plate is heated, it helps warm the dough up considerably.


Nick, you mention 4 folks running the Friday night kitchen.

Would it be worth it to you to find a Friday night guy to help out? You’d have to pay him considerably more because you’re asking for a few hours of the hardest work/week.

You need a slapper, 1 guy on the pizza table, 1 on cut and box and a person to float between the dough and the toppings. That leaves you no one for phones or front counter. Perhaps you can get a phone person for Friday nights and move your regular crew around. Unfortunately, I think you’re in the position of “something’s gotta give”. If you lose just one order an hour, you’re losing valuable sales that an extra person could turn around for you.

As with any Monday Morning Quarterback, it’s a whole lot easier sitting here and telling you how to fix it than it is to ACTUALLY fix it :).

Sorry… I had a typo. My earlier post should have said “without difficulty”. A good skin tosser can keep 2-3 other guys buried while they sauce, cheese and top the pies. Most of our pizzas go out with 4-6 toppings so the line has to be moving to do 60 pies but we can handle 60 pies per hour with four guys in the kitchen. 1 on skins, 2 on the line and 1 catching the oven. That means we will have 2 other people on the phones…

But to get back on topic, you do not need to pre stretch the skins. Just keep them as dough balls unti you need them or just stay an hour or so ahead. Our guy on skins will stock up the racks with an hours worth of skins around 4:30 and just keep filling the racks ahead of the line without even looking at the orders when we are busy. Around 7:30 he stops doing that and lets the orders run down. After that we stretch skins to order as the orders come in. By using a cold water dough that lasts for 2-3 days it is generally posible to work mostly with day old dough (which handles best) and only once in while have to use dough made that day or that is 2 days old.

During our busy season we will bring maybe 100-150 pizzas worth of dough out of the walkin around 3PM so it can start warming up. When we are doing 200 or more in a night, that means we are never warming more dough than we will use that night. if we need more, the guys take it out of the walkin a tray or two at a time.

We dont currently use one and plan to buy a dough Pro DP1100. I wanted to understand what your problems are and try and avoid them. Sales documents etc… always sound much better then reality of course.

We plan to follow your exact methods also.

Actually, those four Kitchen guys run a fryer, sandwich/pasta station, microwave, slap table, prep, oven and box . . . and dishes :shock: Multi-tasking machines! Add a front phone, a server and two drivers for front of house and salads. They help cover dishes as well. We would definitely hire another Friday/Saturday guy next month if sales continue to increase as they have been. The real crux is getting our new fryer guy up to speed on the other stations quicker. He is not the multi-talent yet.