The Dough Doctor talks refrigeration
We’re setting up our first shop, but we have reach-in coolers rather than a walk-in cooler. How would you recommend that we store our dough balls in a reach-in cooler?
A: Since reach-in coolers are not as efficient when it comes to cooling large numbers of dough balls, our dough management for a reach-in must begin at the dough formulation. Do this by adjusting the temperature of the water to give a finished dough temp in the 70 to 75 F range. Dough boxes can be used in a reach-in cooler, but you may need to remove some of the shelf guides or adjust their spacing to accommodate the height of your dough boxes. Then when placing the filled boxes into the cooler use an off-set placement pattern — place one box further back and the next box on top of it further forward, which will leave alternating ends of the boxes open for air circulation. After the dough balls have cooled to 50 to 55 F they can be sealed in the boxes to prevent drying. Do this by pushing or pulling on each box so it nests over the box beneath it, thus sealing the box closed. Once this is done the dough can be allowed to cold-ferment in the boxes just as they would in a walk-in cooler.
Another effective option is to use aluminum sheet pans rather than dough boxes. In this case the dough balls are placed directly onto the sheet pans and covered with food-contact-approved plastic bags. The bottom of the bag is brought up over the top of the dough balls, and the top of the bag is brought down over the front of the pan and tucked under the pan as it is placed on the rack in the cooler.
Is there any difference between the different brands of instant dry yeast (IDY)?
A: As long as the basic color is the same or similar you shouldn’t see any difference in performance of IDY from the different manufacturers. Do be aware, though, that there are different types of IDY that are designed for specific dough formulations. So these may perform differently than the conventional red bag IDY that we are all familiar with when used in a typical pizza dough formulation. If in doubt, always check with the yeast manufacturer to be sure you have the correct one for your application. Additionally, if your IDY is packaged in a vacuum-sealed bag (it will be hard as long as the vacuum seal is unbroken), do not use the yeast if the bag is soft. This is an indication that the seal has been compromised and the quality of the yeast is unknown.
I used to work in a bakery where we added the salt to the dough towards the end of the mixing stage. This was done to reduce the dough mixing time, or so I was told. Would this procedure help to reduce the mixing time of our pizza doughs?
A: The delayed salt addition method works well to help reduce the dough mixing time only when we are mixing doughs to full or near-full gluten development (such as when making commercial breads and rolls, but it does not work with pizza doughs since pizza doughs are under-mixed to begin with). Most pizza doughs are mixed to only ½ to 2/3 of that.
If I’m adding butter or margarine to my dough do I have to melt it first?
A: No, you can add it right on top of the flour, but I should add that it should be at or near room temperature before adding it to your dough. This will ensure that it gets mixed into the dough rather than just incorporated as one single lump or several pieces of hard butter/margarine. If the dough is going to receive a very short mixing time, such as when using a vertical cutter mixer (VCM), I’ve always played it on the safe side and melted any plastic fat (butter, margarine or shortening) prior to addition. The same would go for mixing some of the cracker-type doughs that call for very short mixing times.
Tom Lehmann is a former director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas and Pizza Today’s resident dough expert.