Dough Doctor Tom Lehmann calculates party-sized pizza

dough_doctor_NOV13 party size pizza

Photo by Josh Keown

Q: We are planning to offer a party size pizza that will be baked on an 18-inch x 26-inch sheet pan. What is the best way to figure out how much dough and toppings we will need to use?

A: The best way to calculate dough, sauce and cheese amounts for any size and pizza is to use the formula for finding the surface area of a circle, which is Pi x R squared. With Pi at 3.14 and R being one-half of the diameter, all you need to do is to square the radius (multiply it times itself) and then multiply that by 3.14. This will give you the surface area for any size/diameter circle/round pizza. Now all you need to do is to divide the weight of dough, cheese or sauce used on a known size pizza by the surface area of that size pizza and you will get what we call a “dough, sauce or cheese loading factor” for your pizzas.

Here is an example of how it would work. Let’s say you are making a 12-inch pizza using 13-ounces of dough and 6 ounces of cheese. R= ½ of the diameter (6) so 6 inches x 6 inches = 36 inches and then multiply this by 3.14 = 113.04 square inches of surface area on a 12-inch diameter round pizza. Dough weight (13 ounces) divided by 113 = 0.1150442 ounces of dough per square inch of surface area. Sauce weight (7 ounces) divided by 113 = 0.0619469 ounces per square inch. Cheese weight (6 ounces) divided by 113 = 0.05300973-ounces per square inch. Now, that 18-inch x 26-inch sheet pan has 18 inches x 26 inches = 468-square inches of surface area. All you need to do is to multiply 468 inches x the dough, sauce and cheese factors to find the correct weight of each for the new pan size or diameter:

Dough: 468 x 0.1150442 = 53.84 ounces (call it 54 ounces) Sauce: 468 x 0.0619469 = 28.99 ounces (call it 29 ounces) Cheese: 468 x 0.05300973 = 24.8 ounces (call it 24.75 ounces).

Those are the weights of dough, sauce and cheese needed to keep your 18- x 26-inch size pizza comparable to your 12-inch pizza. If you follow this procedure for each of your pizza sizes, the only things that will change between the different sizes are proportionally more or less ingredients. By following this simple procedure you can literally make a pizza of any size you wish, knowing that the amounts of dough, sauce and cheese are all correct. This will allow you to bake the different size pizzas for about the same length of time, and it will also make pricing of the pizzas easier and more accurate too.

Q: I have been working to develop a deep-dish pizza dough for my store. I have found that by increasing the oil content the finished crust has a very tender but crispy eating characteristic. What exactly does oil do in my dough?

A: The function of oil or fat in pizza dough is to serve as a tenderizer. In this function, the fat produces a more tender eating crust. At higher fat levels –– above 10 percent of the total flour weight –– it will also impart a unique shortness to the bite, giving the crust a biscuit-like eating property.

Typically, most pizza dough formulations will contain only from one- to three-percent fat, but when this is increased to more than five percent, we begin to see the characteristic tenderness in the finished crust. As mentioned above, when that level reaches 10 percent, we begin to see a biscuit-like eating property developing in the finished crust. For the most part, 15- to 20-percent fat is about the most we ever see being used, with the uppermost limit at around 25 percent.

Some care must be taken when incorporating fat levels above 10 percent to prevent excessive encapsulating of the flour with the fat, which can result in excessively weak,putty-like doughs with less than ideal handling properties. To prevent this it is recommended that the fat be added to the dough in two or three stages.

Begin by adding about five percent of the fat along with the other dry ingredients, or as you would normally add the shortening or oil. After the dough has been mixed to a point where it is smooth and somewhat elastic, the remainder of the fat can be added and the dough mixed just to a point where the fat is thoroughly incorporated. If the total fat is above 20 percent, we suggest that the last five percent or so of the fat be added after the dough has been mixed smooth following the second fat incorporation.

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Photo by Josh Keown

In addition to its role as a tenderizer, fat can also have a significant influence on the flavor of the finished crust. For example, the inclusion of olive oil, butter or lard to the fat blend can impart a specific or unique flavor to the finished crust. Since fat also lubricates the dough, it can improve the way the dough handles when being formed into a pizza skin, plus it can impede the migration of moisture from the sauce and toppings into the baked crust. This allows it to better resist becoming soggy, and to some degree, the fat –– especially at higher levels –– may help to keep the finished pizzas hot for a longer time than pizzas made either without fat or with low levels of fat.

When adding fat — especially in the form of oil — we have found it to be beneficial to add the oil after the dough has had a chance to mix for a couple of minutes, thus allowing time for the flour to hydrate. If the oil is added before this, the flour may absorb some of the oil, rendering it incapable of developing the proteins into what we call “gluten.” Hence, there can be significant differences in the finished dough which, in the past, has been incorrectly attributed to the weather at the time the dough was made.

Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.