I recently purchased a Dough Pro DP 1100 heated press for experimentation and can tell you what I learned thus far. In my case, using for a thicker pan dough which does not handle sheeting well. I’m still experimenting with it.
I bought the unit basically new, the pizza place that had it before me used it 10 times then got rid of it – went hand tossed. I can tell you at first it was not what I expected, looked so simple in the demos etc……I had a hard time for the first dozen or so tries (due to my lack of knowledge with the device). I can speak to the DP1100 and assume that all the other units on the market are pretty common.
The DP1100 has 4 thickness levels set by a manual knob on the top of the machine. (this is a newer model) Setting #1 is thinnest and #4 thickest and you can vary between 1 and 4 depending on the desired thickness level. There is a digital temp adjustment for the top platter (only the top) that can be set from 100 to 325. Unit is built very well and clocks in a couple hundred pounds. You can easily set the temp and the alarm timing which is a signal to the operator when to release the handle (when the dough is pressed).
In my case to get the dough pressed that way I wanted, I discovered it’s more than just the machine, it’s the dough formulation, dough temp + dough weight. Any of these factors can vary how the final pressed dough will turn out (it’s never easy is it). I do not use PZ44 or any conditioners.
Some generic tests……getting to the right thickness and diameter
Test #1 - At first I wanted to make a 12” pan, I took a 32 oz ball of room temp dough (about 75 degrees) with 24 hour ferment, 45 % hydration, and proceeded to press it, held the press for 5 seconds (5 beeps). I figured weight had no impact and my thickness would be exactly as I set it on the manual thickness dial (I would just cut off the excess after panning). Temp was set at 100. I pulled up on the handle and could tell more force was needed as the dough created some significant suction. I took my micrometer and measured the dough thickness and discovered it was far thicker than the measurement between the 2 platters w/o dough. As I pulled up, the dough snapped back big time and shrunk in diameter. So, I decided to press it again, this time, the dough thickness was less, but still got snap back. A third and final press got closer to the thickness set on the manual dial.
Test #2 – Did the same thing with another ball with same results
Test #3 – Did the same thing with a smaller ball, set timer for 8 seconds, 20oz with desired results in only 2 presses
Test #4 – 20oz ball, increased temp to 150 and achieved a near perfect press that time on the first press at 8 seconds. Diameter was slightly too large.
Test #5 – 19oz ball, temp at 150, dough temp at 55, timer set for 5 seconds – press was perfect. I was able to pan this dough in seconds, the additional heat to 150 set the dough better and reduced snap back. Using cooler dough gave me the correct diameter and thickness.
What I learned was that the ball size seems to be critical in determining the final thickness and that increasing the heat helps reduce snap back. In my case with the pan formulation I am using 55 is the temp I need the dough at (+/- 5 degrees). Variation in any of these changed my results. Still working on it.
In regards to the dough sticking to the platter, I don’t want to use any sprays or releasing agent or any ingredient not already in my dough – just my preference. My pan dough has a high oil content so I figured I would not need any sprays. Once in a while the dough will stick to the upper heated platter upon opening the press. All I need to do then is lightly pull on the edge and it comes off no problem. It does not have exhibit a pseudo par baked characteristic at 150 – have not tried any higher temp as of yet.
I don’t think that the press is a poor device or results in a poor crusts, I think it’s a great tool and in my case is working as planned after making adjustments and spending time with it. Based on my taster feedback, there is no difference between my hand panned dough or pressed dough which is exactly what I am trying to achieve. The press is faster for me and less work. I don’t see any difference with direct press to oven or press to pan and rise, the results are the same with press vs manual in my case.
I think the only way to tell if it will work for you is to get one and spend time on it to see if you can achieve what you are looking for. Getting a handle on the variables and experimenting is the way to go in my opinion.