The Dough Doctor answers your questions
Q: I’m thinking of adding take-and bake pizza to my menu. Can I use my regular dough, or do I need a special dough?
A: Making take-and-bake pizza can be a pretty simple proposition, or it can be a bit more in depth, requiring a specialized dough. The easiest way to make take-and-bake pizza is to modify your existing dough formula and procedure. Begin by adjusting the sugar content of your dough to five percent of the flour weight. This will ensure that the crust will brown nicely in the consumer’s home oven. If you feel that the added sweetness of the finished crust is detrimental to the flavor of the pizza, you can add six to eight percent sweet dairy whey (available from most bakery ingredient suppliers). Just add the whey into the flour and disperse it by jogging the mixer agitator a couple times, then add the water, and you’re ready to begin mixing. After the dough has been mixed, take it directly to the bench for scaling and balling.
Manage the dough through the cooler overnight in the conventional manner. Then, first thing on the following day, remove the dough from the cooler and allow it to sit at room temperature for about four minutes, or until the dough can be easily opened into skins. Place each pizza skin onto a wire screen, take it to the cooler and place it into a wire tree rack for cooling. Allow the dough skins to cool for about 45 minutes, then remove the dough from the screen and stack on a metal tray or cardboard pizza circle about five high, with a piece of parchment paper between each crust. These can be conveniently stored in the reach-in cooler under the prep table. When an order is received for a take-and-bake pizza, a prepared dough skin is removed from the stack, placed into an ovenable paperboard tray and lightly oiled to prevent moisture to migrate into the dough. The sauce can now be applied, and the pizza dressed to order. To finish the pizza, wrap it with stretch or shrink wrap and apply a label with all of the appropriate information (such as keep refrigerated, do not freeze, remove plastic over-wrap before baking, complete baking instructions, and a use-by date). If your business will be based on take-and-bake pizza only, you may want to have a more specialized dough for making your pizzas. In addition to the changes recommended above, a coated leavening system should also be included in the dough formulation. This basically consists of a blend of baking soda and sodium aluminum phosphate — which has been encapsulated in fat, allowing it to react as a baking powder during baking rather than during the pre-bake storage period. The reason for including this ingredient is to ensure that the dough/crust will always rise during baking, even if the dough is mishandled by the consumer.
Q: We like the quality of bake that we get on our pizzas, but we would like to get a little more crust color without affecting the bake or flavor of the finished crust.
A: The typical reaction to getting what you want to achieve –– either a longer bake, or a hotter bake, or adding sugar to the dough formulation –– will potentially influence either the textural properties or the flavor of the finished crust, so we will assume that some other action must be taken. In this case, we have a couple of options. One is to simply brush the edges of the crust with oil. This will improve the edge color, but it will not influence the bottom crust color. If the edge color is what you’re looking for, this is a good way to get the improvement you’re looking for. The other way is to add dried, bakery-grade sweet dairy whey to the dough formulation. Whey is about 70 percent lactose (milk sugar), so it has a very low sweetness rating, so it will impart essentially no sweetness to the finished crust. Lactose is also reducing sugar so it aids in the Maillard browning reaction during baking, thus enhancing crust color development. As a side benefit, it is also nonfermentable by the yeast, so it will still be present even after much fermentation time, or days in the cooler. because the whey is added to the dough, it will influence the crust color on both the top and bottom of the crust. The amount of whey normally used to impact crust color starts out at two or three percent of the total flour weight and goes up from there until the desired effect on crust color is achieved. While whey is in a dry, powder form, it has very little influence on dough absorption properties, so when starting out using whey, don’t add any additional water with the whey powder unless you feel that it is absolutely necessary.
What’s the ingredient that we can use to reduce the snap-back of our dough while stretching?
A: The ingredient is PZ-44. This ingredient is what we call a “reducing agent.” When used in a dough, it will cause the dough to become softer and more extensible (less elastic). What this means is that it will not exhibit the snap-back characteristics during hand or machine forming. When adding any type of reducing agent to your dough, care must be taken to prevent using it in an excessive amount.
Since reducing agents work very fast, their effects can be readily seen while the dough is being mixed. Be aware that your mixing time will most likely be shorter than normal. And also, keep in mind that these materials don’t stop working in the cooler, so your dough may become overly soft if stored in the cooler for more than two days. When used correctly, these ingredients can be great assets, especially if you shape your dough skins using a dough press. When a dough press is used, it is common to see the dough shrink back as the pressure is released from the press head. Judicious use of a reducing agent can reduce or eliminate this shrinkage, resulting in consistently sized pizza skins.