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Pizza Dough for 400 people

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I need help with our pizza dough at the private high school that I work at. I will explain what our current process is and then I will list the things I am trying to improve/accomplish.


We feed around 350-450 people pizza's once a week at lunch. We currently use this recipe, which yields 75 lbs. of dough:


9 oz. of Yeast

23 lbs, 10 oz. of Water

8.5 oz. of Sugar

2 lbs, 15.25 oz. Olive Oil

12.5 oz. Salt

3.5 Cups Honey

47 lbs. AP Flour


We make the dough at about 7-8 am. It gets portioned into 1# balls, then is covered with plastic wrap and allowed to rise for about an hour, to an hour and a half. They are then rolled out with a machine roller and placed on the bottom of an upside down sheet pan, and brushed with olive oil. We rack up 20 pizzas on 3 racks for a total of 60 pies. They are then "pre-baked" at 400 degrees for about 10 mins. in a revent oven. Its an oven that you roll a rolling rack into with 20 sheetpans, it lifts the rack and rotates as it cooks. They are then removed and sauced/cheesed/topped. At 11 am we fire one rack of 20 in the revent at 350 degrees for about 15-20 mins. until the cheese is well browned. At 11:10 am we fire 10 pies in the convection ovens at 400 degrees for 10-12 mins. At 11:30 lunch begins, and within an hour, we go through about 40 pizzas cut into 12 slices.


Now onto my goal. Our crust isn't bad, but I want to improve it. For one, our dough stays flat when baked, other than the air bubble here or there we get no rise out of the dough when baked. The other thing we would like to toy with is actually baking the pizza in the sheetpans, so that they are large and rectangular. Our test last week showed that a 3# dough portion coats the pan.


If anyone has any proven recipes, or suggestions on our situation, please help me out here, my boss is pressuring me to improve on this and I want to come through on it :)

post #2 of 16

I made pizza in sheet pans yesterday although it was only for 100 people (just needed to make 5). They work great, no need to turn them upside down or even use oil/cornmeal to keep them from sticking, haven't had one stick yet. The difficult part though is getting the dough thin enough because mine does puff up a lot when pre-baking (I bake until light brown then put them in at 300 to melt the cheese). I have to mash the crust back down before saucing and topping.


Your recipe seems to contain a lot more oil than what I'm used to. It wouldn't inhibit rise, just an observation.


Are you putting your dough in the cooler before it goes into the oven? Cold dough will rise less than room temp dough. Also, try baking your crusts at a lower temp (325 or 350 in convection oven) for a longer period of time rather than the high heat for a short time.

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response Laurenlulu! We do not refrigerate the dough at all. I will try changing the temp on the pre-bake, but it might be difficult cause there isn't a lot of time to get them prepped.


I've read that a lot of pizza joints prepare their dough the day before using it, as it allows the yeast to develop a deeper flavor. I wonder if we could try that as well.

post #4 of 16
I may be way off here as I am not expierenced with pizza on that scale but have you tested cooking the pizza from raw already topped? That would alowe more time for the crust to rise. Then again it may not cook completly, but it could be worth a try with one on an off pizza day and see if it works.
post #5 of 16

Lagom, I have and it was a disaster. Because of the convection oven the cheese gets too brown and overdone before the crust is fully cooked. The only way I've found to have a crispy crust is to prebake.

post #6 of 16
I kind of suspected that may be an issue. Another idea, make, proof and prebake the crusts the day before. That way there is more time for it to rise. Question, are you using fresh or dry yeast?
post #7 of 16
Another question, when do you add your salt?
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

I actually tried cooking one from raw the other day to test it out. I cooked it at 500 deg in our convection oven and it turned out just fine.


The problem is that our "revent" oven where we fire an entire rack of 20 pizzas off the bat to get started, has a very weak convection current and does not get as hot as our other convection ovens.


Not to say that it won't work in the revent oven, I just haven't tried it yet.


Could the fact that I roll the dough out very thin, be the reason that I am getting no rise to the crust when cooking?

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

We use active dry yeast.


I'm not sure when he adds the salt, our baker makes the dough for me.

post #10 of 16
Hmmm. Might consider trying cake yeast, but you would need more. Also, my understanding of the salt it you should be adding it at the end cause it can inhibit the forming of gluton which could affect you raising, but honestly Im just reaching for any ideas that may help a bit. Hope that helps.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks, I will talk to the baker about the salt thing. I don't think my boss would let me use cake yeast

post #12 of 16
1 of 2 things are happening.
#1 when they are proofing, they are not in a warm enough area. The dough needs to be pretty warm when its proofing. How low can you turn your revent oven? If you could get it low enough, you could proof the dough in there.

#2 Your using bad yeast or not enough. It wouldn't hurt to do a sample test with more yeast added to the recipe.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback.


I will experiment with these ideas.

post #14 of 16
Do your dough a day ahead. in the fridge it will still rise but slowly, let it age a bit. I think you need more rise time. Also, maybe try to turn your oven up 50-100 degrees or so then turn it down when you put the pizzas in?? That is a lot of pizza for an oven to maintain that initial temperature. +1 on active dry yeast, also how old is the yeast??
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post #15 of 16

Hi there,


I researched about this and here are the tips I will give you. First, Toast any spice that will give you licorice taste in a pan set aside to cool and grind to powder and put in your olive oil to infuse the taste for three days before you use. Second, in baking use a special baking sheet or pan with holes below. or screen type. Third, Heat from the oven must be hot enough to give the smokey taste. Fourth, use bread flour and not all-purpose flour to achieve the chewiness everybody wants. Have a great day hope this helps.

post #16 of 16

My first job in a kitchen was inside a very popular local pizzaria. Working the Bruschetta station is where I learned to make real Jersey style pizza dough.

From what Im seeing and my experience of what makes pizza dough better is adjusting yeast from outside temperature as well as inside temperature. I have no idea why it affects it but It does, and the mexicans taught me that the hard way. Also another thing you can try is using the amount of yeast you normally do and let it sit out and rise just until it starts to stick to your hand then adjust yeast accordingly for shelf life, as well as prep time frame. I find that having your dough staggered actually works better. 2 days out when little spots appear on the dough is the best quality to spin for taste IMO. 424-450F is generally the temp most pro spinners around my area use.

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