The dough doctor dishes on dough loading and oil absorption
Q: What is dough loading?
A: Dough loading is really just another way of saying “X” amount of dough per square inch of surface area. We calculate the dough loading by dividing the weight of a dough ball used to make a specific size pizza and dividing that weight by the surface area of that pizza. Surface area of a round pizza is calculated by the formula Pi (roughly 3.14) X R (radius) Squared. For a square or rectangular shaped pizza it is L (length) X W (width). For example, if 10 ounces of dough were used to make a 12-inch round pizza, the math would look like this: 3.14 X 36 = 113-square inches (rounded off). 10 ounces divided by 113 = 0.088 ounces of dough per square inch of calculated surface area, so the dough loading in this case would be 0.088.
How it’s used is pretty straight forward, but first it must be understood that dough loading is just a tool that we can use to approximate dough weights for different size pizzas (as well as sauce and cheese weight, too). We know that we are using 10 ounces of dough to make a 12-inch round pizza, so how much dough should we be using to make a 14-inch and a 16-inch pizza? First we need to calculate the surface area of the 14- and 16-inch pizzas. 3.14 X 49 = 153.86 (call it 154-square inches) for the
14-inch and 3.14 X 64 = 200.96 (call it 201-square inches) for the 16-inch size. Now we are ready to apply our dough loading (0.088) to these numbers: 14-inch (0.088 X 154 = 13.5-ounces of dough) and for the 16-inch pizza (0.88 X 201 = 17.7-ounces of dough).
Keep in mind that these are not hard and fast numbers. They should only be used as a guide in determining how much dough, sauce or cheese should be used when making different size pizzas. The reason being that the purpose of offering our customers different sizes of pizzas is to provide them with the same pizza but in a different size format. Additionally, if you are using an air impingement oven, you may find that you will get a more consistent bake across your different size pizzas by following this simple procedure.
Q: What is the delayed oil addition mixing method?
A: This is a method of mixing dough where the oil is added later in the mixing stage. The purpose of this method is to allow the flour to hydrate before the oil can be absorbed by the flour, thus reducing its ability to produce gluten (resulting in a potentially wide variation in dough consistency, which is further compounded when attempts are made to correct the situation by adding more flour or water). I’m sure most of us have heard the old saying that humidity makes a dough softer or firmer. We know that this is not correct, as it does not impact the dough in this manner. But we knew that something was being experienced in the pizzerias, so we set out to replicate what was being observed. What we found is that when the oil is added early in the mixing stage, such as when adding it along with the water, the oil floats to the top of the water. The flour is then added and it comes into direct contact with the oil floating on top of the water. The oil is absorbed into the flour, rendering an unknown amount of the flour incapable of forming gluten and absorbing water, hence the difference in dough feel/consistency. We found that by holding the oil out of the dough until the flour had a chance to hydrate (about two minutes mixing at low speed is usually sufficient to accomplish this), and then adding it to the dough, the variances in dough consistency ceased to exist and this procedure has been widely accepted by both the retail (pizzeria) and the wholesale (commissary and frozen pizza) industries.
Since all mixers are different, as are dough sizes, some testing may be needed to determine exactly when to add the oil for optimum results. Generally we want to add the oil immediately after all of the flour has been hydrated. This is easily determined by observing the dough during mixing. When you can no longer see any dry, white flour in the bottom of the mixing bowl, it is time to add the oil. If the oil is added while there is still dry flour in the bowl, little or nothing will be accomplished. If it is added too late the oil will just lubricate the dough ball, allowing it to cling onto the hook/agitator without any kneading action until the oil is finally worked into the dough and normal mixing action resumes. If this happens just continue mixing at the highest possible speed until the agitator once again begins working the dough in the normal manner, then go back to your normal mixing speed and resume your dough mixing time from that point. When the oil is added at the correct point in the mixing stage, the oil is quickly incorporated into the dough with essentially no interference with your normal timed mixing procedure.
Tom Lehmann is a former director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas and Pizza Today’s resident dough expert.