From time to time I am asked a question about a term that I’ve used in one of my articles. As a result, I’ve come to discover that a lot of operators are not familiar with the terms that I just take for granted. To help bring everyone up to speed on some of the more commonly used terms, I’ve compiled the following list of terms and descriptions.
As our industry is growing in size and technology, we’ve found it necessary to use some specific terms to describe various things that are happening, or various pieces of equipment. This is an explanation of what some of the more common terms are.
Air Deck Oven — This is a specialized oven employing the air impingement baking technology in a deck-type oven configuration.
Blown Dough — This refers to dough that has fermented excessively and is now one large piece of ragged dough seeping from the dough box rather than a number of well defined dough balls. Blown dough is generally discarded as waste.
Bulk Fermentation — In this fermentation process, the dough is allowed to rise in bulk, as one large piece immediately after mixing. Because the mass of the dough helps to retain its temperature, bulk fermented doughs are generally fermented at room temperature. Bulk fermentation times generally range from two to eight hours.
Cold Press — A cold press forms the dough by pressing the dough without the use of heat. Because of this, cold pressed doughs must have a very soft, extensible characteristic, and since the formed dough is so soft, it must be pressed onto a special pan, with circular corrugations formed into the bottom of the pan. These corrugations are designed to help hold the dough in place after pressing and reduce the amount of shrinkage.
Combined Technology Oven — There are some new, high-tech ovens available that can utilize a combination of three or more baking/heat transfer technologies. For the most part, these ovens will bake a pizza very fast, but they have a very limited capacity, which tends to limit their applications.
Convection Oven — These ovens use forced air circulation in the baking chamber to achieve improved baking characteristics. These ovens should not be confused with air impingement ovens, which utilize a much more focused airflow onto the pizza. Convection ovens are generally lacking in the bottom heat necessary to properly bake a pizza.
Cooler/Retarder — A walk-in or reach-in area where the temperature is held at 35-40 F.
Cross Stacking — The perpendicular placement of dough boxes, one on top of the other at 90 degree angles, to allow air to circulate around the dough balls while they are being cooled.
Deck Oven — This is the old, traditional workhorse of the pizza industry. They have a large flat deck for baking upwards of a dozen pizzas at a time. Pizzas must be manually “peeled” in and out of the oven.
Dough Box — A plastic box for holding dough balls in the cooler. They are designed to be stacked with the top box nesting slightly into the box beneath it, forming an effective lid.
Dough Divider — A mechanical device for accurately portioning the dough into smaller, select weight pieces.
Dough Docker — A dough docker is a tool that is passed over the dough with some downward force to crimp the top and bottom layers of the dough together. The result is a control in the number and size of blisters or bubbles that develop atop the crust during baking. The dough docker is sometimes erroneously called a “dough perforator”. The docker has blunt pins that are designed to crimp the dough together, much like spot welding, and does not actually perforate the dough.
Dough Fermentation — Dough fermentation is the time that the yeast is allowed to act upon the dough/flour between mixing and shaping or forming.
Dough Memory/Snap Back — Dough memory is the phenomenon that is seen when a dough piece is formed out to the desired diameter, and then within a matter of seconds it shrinks back to a smaller size.
Dough Rounder — A mechanical device for shaping a cut/divided dough piece and forming it into a symmetrical, round ball.
Dough Sheeter — The dough sheeter is sometimes called a dough roller. It is designed to sheet a dough ball out to a predetermined thickness by two or more passes through the sheeting rolls.
Down Stacking — Removing the top box from a cross stacked column of boxes and placing it in the lowermost position of a new stack. In this stack, each box will be placed parallel to the other boxes allowing them to nest in each other for an air tight seal, thus preventing drying of the dough balls.
Emergency Dough — This is a dough that is made as a derivation of your regular pizza dough formula. It is designed to be made in the event that you should lose your regular dough for whatever reason. As the name implies, it should only be used for those “special” emergency occasions when you would otherwise be unable to open your store due to the loss of your dough during the night. Emergency doughs are made by increasing the dough temperature to 90-95 F, and doubling the normal yeast content. The dough is divided and formed into dough balls immediately after mixing, wiped with oil and placed into dough boxes to proof for 1.5 to 2 hours. The dough is then ready to form into skins.
Gum Line — A doughy, gum-like line that can develop between the crust and the cheese topping. Pre-saucing a skin without first applying a light coating of oil to the dough surface can result in the development of a gum line.
Hand Forming — Shaping a dough piece into a pizza skin by any of several methods using one’s hands.
Hot Press — There are two types of hot presses currently in use. Those with just a heated head (top part of the press), and those with both a heated head and platten (base/bottom plate). Some hot presses will only press out a flat-shaped dough piece; some are designed to press out dough into a deep-dish pan. Additionally, since the bottom of the dough has been heated, it takes on a dry feel, allowing it to be easily handled without the need of a pan under it.