Struggling with my Dough .....Tom or anyone?

We have been open about 8 months and making New York style pizza, calzones, etc… recently we have had problems with our finished dough product. it doesn’t rise sometimes, feels "rubbery, and becomes very difficult to stretch, often ripping holes in it. sometimes it rises quickly and we can not work with it either (usually more holes for us “average” dough stretchers. we ave not changed anything, although we are in Middle Georgia and the temperature and humidity has risen since April.

we do the following:

  • put 14qts (32 lbs) of water (approx 120 degrees)in the planetary mixing bowl
  • add 1.5 oz of IDY and let mix for 2-3 minutes
  • add 15oz of sugar and let mix for 3-4 minutes
  • add 15 oz of salt and let mix for 1 minute
  • add 28 oz of extra virgin olive oil and let mix for 5 minutes
  • add 50 lbs of high gluten flour and mix for 7-10 minutes (or until dough starts breaking away from sides of mixer)

we try and roll the dough balls shortly after and put in the walk in cooler. we never used to cross stack the boxes, but have recently tried it with no luck.

question 1: does inconsistent water temperatures or the time between adding ingredients have a lot of influence on the finished product.

does anyone have any suggestions?


H2O is WAY 2 WARM!!!

TomL says 2 have dough come off mixer @ 85, but I ALWAYS use cold H20 from the walk-in

Put in H2O, then flour/sugar/salt/IDY & mix for a few minutes…then add the oil (oil can “encapsulate” the yeast)

I believe the H2O temp is “Killing” the yeast…plus the salt content may be high for some…I’ve dropped down to 8-10 oz - as yeast adds flavor & tenderness, but slows yeast activity a bit…

H20 amount may be a bit high…but that depends on the type/brand of flour

watch the video

which video

Your dough formulation from a baker’s percent perspective looks like this:

100%, Flour
64%, Water
0.1875%, IDY
1.875%, Sugar
1.875%, Salt
3.5%, Oil (I assume oil by weight, not volume)

The salt may be a bit high but should be OK. And the sugar may be an issue if you are baking in a deck oven. But otherwise the formulation looks OK to me. For the proper dough preparation, you should go to the PMQ homepage (at PMQ-dot-com), click on Recipe Bank, and find Tom Lehmann’s NY style dough recipe. Tom details the recommended procedures there.

I also believe your water temperature is too high, causing the finished dough temperature to be too high (above the recommended 80-85 degrees F). You will want to learn how to determine the suitable water temperature to achieve a finished dough temperature in the above range. If you follow all of the recommended procedures I think you will see improvement.

I tried Tom’s NY Pizza recipe several times when things got really bad(when we couldn’t get the dough to stretch at all) the finished product felt great, stretched like smooth silk, but the finished product out of the deck oven was on the “wet” side" with a little bit of a gum line. it also tased different…the calzones started looking watery on top so we abondoned it…I’m sure it works great for others, but for whatever reason…not us …

My reference to Tom’s NY style dough formulation was not intended to suggest that the original poster abandon his dough formulation for Tom’s. I was referring only to the dough preparation and management procedures that Tom desribed in reference to his particular dough formulation.

the temp on the water is way too high, at 120 degrees the yeast will begin to die. You should try using water at around 65-70 degrees so that the finished temp of your dough is around 85 degrees. what you should do is add the water first, then the flour then the dry ingredients. Mix for two or three minutes on low speed, then add the oil. mix for a minute or two on low speed, them mix for 8 - 10 min on medium speed.

I can’t mix on medium speed because my mixer is too small.

I think the greater harm of 120 degree F water in this instance is not to the IDY but to the finished dough temperature. Yeast starts to die at around 140 degrees or so, and so long as the water is placed in the mixer bowl and the IDY is added to or on top of the flour, the IDY shouldn’t be harmed. Water temperature is more critical when using ADY, where being off by as little as 5 degrees F on either side of the recommended rehydration temperature (about 105 degrees F) can lead to degradation of yeast performance.

After the agitation/friction of mixing the dough, you will get around a 15 degree difference from what I have been reading here. That takes it into the risk range you mention.

Again, from some that I’ve read, high finished dough temps also mean real fast fermentation. You can blow out your dough pretty quick if you leave “hot” dough out at high room temps. Really soft and tempermental. I guess fast ferment could also inhibit gas rentention in the structure, making it hard to stretch.

YIKES!! I didn’t notice the middle GA reference. Where ya’ at? I grew up in Warner Robins, staffed scout camp in Byron, Jr. College in Macon, stomped around as a teen in Perry, first home was actually in Bonaire for a couple months. Knew Centerville when they only had 2 police cars total.


The finished dough temperature will depend on several factors, including water temperature, room temperature, flour temperature (which can be the same as room temperature if stored in the same room), and the machine friction factor. The machine friction factor can be affected by bowl size, dough batch size, machine speed(s), mix times and other related factors. Using a simple example based on the 120 degree water we have been discussing, and assuming that the room temperature is 90 degrees F, the flour temperature is also 90 degrees F, and the machine friction factor is 40, then the finished dough temperature (FDT) should be equal to

FDT = (120 + 90 + 90 + 40)/3 = 113.3 degrees F.

There are other factors that can influence the finished dough temperature, but the above calculation should be close enough for practical purposes.

It is possible to kill a dough with heat, and to prove it to yourself sometime, make a small dough batch in your food processor at home and run the processor full speed for several minutes. The dough will become like silly putty and won’t rise. It will be dead. I suppose the same thing could happen with 120 degree water and a VCM machine, although I am speculating here.

Just curious. I have not seen this Machine Friction Factor in a calculation or description. Where does one get the data on that? Also, does the metabolic action of the yeast during the anabolic respiration phase get factored in? Or does that happen only during the cold fermentation portion of the program?

This is actually the 1st recipe I can recall the temperature going down after mixing. I’ve been not paying attention again. I gotta watch that better.

we made dough earlier this afternoon and actually got a good batch…we brought the water temp down to 100 which produced and end product of just under 90 degrees…I believe if I bring the water temp to 90 we’ll get a finished product in the “target” of 85 degrees.

based on everyones feedback…the room temperature rising, the flour temperature rising, the ground water temp rising, and mixing it in a hot bowl, we we’re probably getting a finished product about 20 degrees hotter than we were before May hit, resulting in poor results.

thanks for everyones help…Nick from Georgia, it was nice to see you “chime in”, I’ve been reading these forums through the day …would love to visit your operation some day…thanks


Tom Lehmann discussed the whole topic of finished dough temperature in the spring/2003 issue of the magazine, at pmq-dot-com/mag/2003spring/tom_lehmann.shtml.

Tell me you’re coming, and I’ll carve one for you. We baste and carve our pies when they come out of the oven. A little more fun than brush and cut.

Suggestions? You bet!

  1. Ditch the 120F water. Try using 70F water.
  2. Since you are using ADY, put 1-pound/1 pint of 100F water (use a thermometer) in a bowl, add the ADY and stir to suspend the yeast. Let this set for 10 minutes and add to the 70F water in the mixer.
  3. Add the flour, and all of the other dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes, add the olive oil and mix another minute at low speed. Then mix for about 10 minutes at medium speed or just until the dough is smooth and satiny in appearance.
  4. Finished dough temperature should be 80 to 85F
  5. Immediateld cut and ball, place in dough boxes and wipe with salad oil.
  6. Take to the cooler and cross stack for 90 minutes, then down stack and kiss good night.
  7. On the following day, remove about a 2 hour quantity of dough from the cooler, keeping it covered, allow it to set at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, as soon as you can easily open the dough you can begin using it. The dough will be good to use for about 3 hours once you begin using it.
    I also see that your yeast level is quite low, probably a result of the excessively high finished dough temperature. Wheh you go to the lower water temperature (70F) I would suggest that you increase the ADY level to something in the 6 to 8-ounce range.
    By the way, 14 quarts of water should figure out to 28 pounds of water by weight, and that’s about the right amount of water to use for 50-pounds of flour.
    I think you will find this to produce a much more consistent quality dough and finished crust. The key to successful dough management is in TEMPERATURE CONTROL. The temperature of the water will have a great influence upon the finished dough temperature, which, in turn will influence the wat the dough handles, or doesn’t handle.
    Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Hey Guys, I gotta get some new glases!
Regarding my response, I misread the yeast as ADY, when actually they are using IDY. My suggestion regarding the yeast level should be changed to using 2 to 3 -ounces of IDY when going with the lower/cooler water temperature.
Sorry about that, please excuse me while I go wipe the pizza sauce of of my face.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks. 2003 is before my time in PMQ. That said, Tom’s article gives the friction factor as a variable rather than a fixed value, unless I missed something; “The friction factor is determined as follows: 3 X the actual dough temperature, minus the sum of the room temperature, flour temperature, and tap water Temperature.” I really am trying to understand this piece.

Using your example

Using a simple example based on the 120 degree water we have been discussing, and assuming that the room temperature is 90 degrees F, the flour temperature is also 90 degrees F, and the machine friction factor is 40, then the finished dough temperature (FDT) should be equal to

We don’t have enough information to plug in the Friction Factor, and the formula would be:

FricFactor= 3 X FinishTemp - (90+90+120) = 3XFinishTemp - 300

If you were just throwing out a number of 40, then great., I can understand better. I just missed the part where there was an actula finished dough temp provided, or a friction factor calculated.

Heck, if Tom could weigh in and explain this whole friction factor better, I might do better. I might just be getting caught up in the details of the various posts. When I ran a formula on the last set of numbers that new pizza man posted, I got a friction factor of -30. I goofed something maybe.

Not a problem.
Here’s how we calculate the friction factor (FF).
Keep in mind that the FF will change if we change our mixing time or the dough size. Technically, formula changes can also affect the FF, but those changes are relatively insignificant as compared to mixing time and dough size.
Friction Factor
3 X Actual (Finished) Dough Temperature - the sum of the Room Tamperature, Flour Temperature and Water Temperature

Here’s a working example.
Flour Temperature: 76F
Room Temperature: 73F
Tap Water Temperature: 68F
We make a dough and mix it to a point where we decide that it is properly mixed. Take the finished dough temperature (80F)
Here’s the math:
3 X 80 = 240 minus (76, 73, 68) = 23
The friction factor for this dough is 23
Tip of the day: Unless a really long or strange dough mixing time is employed, I’ve found that most pizza doughs will have a FF of about 25.
In many cases, when trying to achieve a specific finished dough temperature, and I don’t have a FF for the mixer/dough combination, I will just plug in a FF of 25 and I’ve never missed the targeted finished dough temperature by more than a degree or two. This sure beasts a SWAG.

To use the friction factor in determining the water temperature to use to arrive at a specific/desired finished dough temperature, the formula is as follows:
3 X Desired Finished Dough Temperature minus (Friction Factor, Room Temperature, Flour Temperature) = Calculated Desired Water Temperature.

Working Example:
FF: 23
Rt: 73
FT: 76
Desired Finished Dough Temperature: 85F

Here’s the Math:
3 X 85 minus (23, 73, 76)
255 - 172 = 83F.
The water temperature that you would need in this case to arrive at a finished dough temperature of 85F is 83F.
Mix your first dough using 83F water and check the finished dough temperature. It will be very close to what you had targeted. Make further water temperature adjustments as dictated by the actual finished dough temperature to give you the desired finished dough temperature. Keep in mind that if you will be mixing multiple doughs in close progression the mixing bowl will be heating up and you will need to compensate for this by lowering the water temperature. This is why we say it is so important to monitor the finished dough temperature for each and every dough. By doing this, you can see when the temperature begins to rise and react accordingly by lowering the water temperature of the next dough.
When making water temperature adjustments move in 5F increments.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Tom, I am new to the industry and still in research/development/planning mode. Forgive me if you had answered this in the past, but what happens if the finished dough temperature is too high or too low (i.e., out of range), do you have to scrap the batch? If not, how can you salvage it? Also, while I have you on the line, I would also like to ask you a water question. The tap water where I am smells very chlorinated and is very hard in general. For dough making, would you use hard water or go with bottled (=$$$) water instead? Or is this just a matter of finished product taste/judgment? Thanks for your help, you are a really great teacher!