Thin Crust Dough Press

For all that I know about this business, I sure realize there are millions of things I don’t know.

One that has my attention right now, since we’re still far from opening, is a dough press. I’ve never used one. I’ve seen three basic models—one has a set temperature on one plate, one has a variable temp on one plate, one variable on both plates.

Beyond the obvious–is it so important to have the variable temp, and is both plates better than just one (I’d think so, to get a better-set shell)-- I really wonder about getting the shell off the plate. I’m going for a really, really thin crust. Anyone familiar with a St Louis style pie? That’s what I’m looking toward. Past attempts, using just a roller, resulted in a lot more labor intensity by having to stretch the shell and shape it properly. Does the heat in the press have any pseudo-par baked result?

The alternative is buying Bonici shells. They’re fine, and what I’ve done for many years, but it would be nice to use my ideal recipe for that crust.


A shelter will give you a thiner crust than a press, as it will degass the dough even more…a little more skill, but not much…

I do have a nearly new Somerset sheeter for sale…lol…

I’ve used both a press and a sheeter, but hand toss these days…

Just spray some pan release on the press or use some oil and it’ll come right off…

A two-pass sheeter is my vote…

The sheeter really doesn’t work for this dough and this thin crust. I’m more concerned about the workload than the results from the press. I will have a two-pass sheeter (roller) as well. I think the double heat press is what I need, especially after reading this from Tom.

Eat a pizza from CiCi’s for a dough press example…That’s the crust you’ll prob get…

Keep in mind that your crust won’t have much, if any raised edge to it. You will most likely need to use a reducing agent in the dough, such as PZ-44 to allow the dough to be pressed out without significant snap-back. I would suggest using a wel fermented dough, overnight in the cooler, then bring the dough out and allow to temper at room tamperature for at least 2, or possibly 3-hours before pressing. Oil the dough ball before putting it in the press. Also, consider using a lower protein flour, something in the 11.8 to 12.5% protein content range should work well for pressing (think King Wheat, Harvest King, Rex Royal, or Washburns from General Mills, or the equivalent from a different manufacturer.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

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.

Perfect! Exactly the sort of information I was hoping to glean. Your efforts and your willingness to share the results are greatly appreciated.

Getting a handle on the variables and experimenting is the way to go in my opinion.
(my bold)
You’re already familiar with the handle, it sounds like! :lol:

The variables which determine thickness are press setting, dough formulation, dough management process, dough ball size, dough temp prior to press and press temp.

If I recall correctly, St. Louis Style is ultra thin (cracker like). You can with 100% certainty make an ultra thin on a sheeter – what makes the difference is dough formulation + handling process + technique.

My press does not make what I consider ultra thin. The units platters do not compress enough even at the thinnest setting. In addition, the press unlike the sheeter is pressure sensitive so if your dough temp is colder or ball size larger, the end result is a thicker crust – regardless of the thickness setting.

You said: “Past attempts, using just a roller, resulted in a lot more labor intensity by having to stretch the shell and shape it properly” If your goal is an ultra thin cracker style and you have to stretch and shape then your formulation is incorrect and regardless of press or sheeter you will not get your desired result.

Making the ultra thin cracker is VERY easy and it doesn’t require stretching and shaping and it can be done on a sheeter. What is going to get you there is the right formulation and handling techniques and knowledge.

What I would suggest is you spend a lot of time learning how to make and deal with dough across many different styles before you open to get a “handle” on the variables, or go buy the premade stuff then wonder after you open why people aren’t buying your product.

Good Luck and Merry Christmas!

People go for the premade stuff. There really aren’t any St Louis-area places making their own St Louis shells. It’s either buy the frozen “pre-made stuff” or from a local bakery, but not frozen.

The “pre-made stuff” that we’ll be using is doing about 60% of pizza sales of a good friend’s place (and former employer), doing about $50k/week total, probably 85% of it pizza. With that kind of “stuff”, I’m looking forward to using it.

But, thanks for the information about the press.

Here is a link to a pizza press, let me know what you think of it.

Very pricey…

a lot of effort it seems. And, yes, the price!

I’ve used a Univex divider/baller in the past, it’s pretty good. When something goes wrong with it, though, it’s a pain to correct.

I was wondering how many pizzas it could press out before you have to re apply the flour to the top and bottom carpets.

Looks good to me, anyone know what the price would be?

far too much for the practicality, I’m afraid.

Maybe if a used one were available, for a lot less.

The cutter/rounder we bought used, I’m thinking $1800 or so 6 years ago. It paid for itself in almost no time. This doesn’t seem to have the same practicality, at least at first glance.

That is the spinner I was talking about in another thread. I like the idea of spinning instead of using pressure or heat to process the dough…but I think unless you are such a busy shop that does hundreds of pies every hour for many hours on end… that hand tossing and stretching is probably still the best way to go. Keeps the gas in the dough and from what everyone says… teaching hand tossing and getting speady and good at it is not that hard. Not too mention…and I am not sure if this video was the one or not…but what happens when the dough is cold, off-center, not enough flour, too warm, etc… there were a lot of examples that just looked like another headache one after another. All that said… I still welcome comments from someone that is using this unit in a real-world operation and can give us some first-hand opinions about it. :idea: