2010 April: Dough Doctor

Q: How can I calculate what the total cost of making my dough is?

A: Many operators simply look at just the ingredient cost when costing their dough formula, but there are more costs involved in making our dough: ingredient cost; inventory cost; overhead and labor cost, just to name a few. It’s difficult to calculate the cost associated with each of these when costing a dough. But, fortunately, there is a rule that we can follow that gives us a realistic idea of just what these costs all add up to. Let’s work a dough formula to find the actual cost to produce the dough:

Note: Ingredient costs are for example purposes only, and do not reflect actual ingredient costs. The projected Formula Cost values have been rounded to the nearest whole cent.

The rule for finding the actual cost to produce dough is to multiply the ingredient cost by 2.5. In this example, the total ingredient cost is $4.35, so we will multiply that by 2.5 to get $10.85. This is the actual cost to make the dough. If you were going to sell the dough from your store, you would add your profit margin on to this price for your total selling price. Or, if you want to compare your cost against the cost of purchasing ready-made dough, you might divide the actual dough cost by the total number of pounds of dough weight to get the cost per pound of dough. In this case, we would divide $10.85 by 32.425 to get a dough cost of $0.3346 (call it $0.33) per pound. When you look at it this way, you can see why the cost of ready-made dough can run anywhere from $0.50 to as much as a dollar per pound when you add on the costs associated with distribution, handling, and shipping, not to mention middleman profits.

Our carryout and delivery pizzas are very tough and chewy. Can we mix some cake fl our with our pizza fl our to make a more tender eating pizza?

In all probability, no, because most cake-type fl ours are made from a different type of wheat than our regular pizza fl ours. Cake fl ours are typically made from soft wheat varieties; additionally, you may also get a chlorinated/hi-ratio cake fl our. These are specialized fl ours designed specifically for making hi-ratio cakes (the type you buy from the major supermarkets), and they do not play well at all with bread fl our when it comes to making pizza crust. Instead, I would suggest that you simply change over to a lower-protein-content, bread-type fl our. While most pizza type fl ours contain 13- to 14-percent protein content, bread fl ours will generally contain from 11- to 12.5-percent protein content. This lower protein content should help to reduce the toughness/chewiness in your finished crusts. However, be advised that at the same time, the potential for crispiness of your crust may also be reduced slightly. This is not a problem with delivered or carryout pizzas, as their crispiness is greatly diminished or non-existent. But if the pizzas will be served as dine-in, they may not be quite as crispy as they were with the higher protein content fl our.

What do you see as some of the new trends in pizza?

I think a lot of the new trends are being driven by consumer desire to eat healthier, or at least feel that they are. I see a preference towards thin crust varieties, probably driven from a leftover attempt to reduce carbs by eating less of the crust portion of the pizza.

There is also a significant move towards reducing sodium content in pizzas. Aside from reducing the salt content in the dough, you’ve also got to look at the sauce and toppings, especially the cheese, to bring about a significant sodium reduction. But with a little work, it is easily within our grasp to achieve a 25 percent-plus total sodium reduction in our pizzas without losing our product identity.

And then there are probiotics. This is a word that may be new to some of you, but this stuff is making a big splash in the food industry. We are seeing more foods being formulated with probiotics (healthy bacteria) to help improve gut health. While this is new, it is something that we might add to our dough/crust to help improve consumer appeal. ?

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

Dough formula
Amount (Lbs.)
Unit Cost
Formula Cost
 Flour: 100%  20  $0.18/Lb.  $3.60
 Salt: 1.75%  0.35  $0.35/Lb.  $0.13
 Sugar: 2%  0.40  $0.42/Lb.  $0.17
 Olive Oil: 2%  0.40  $0.52/Lb.  $0.21
 Instant dry yeast: 0.375%  0.075  $1.58/Lb.  $0.12
 Water: 56%  11.2  $0.01/Lb  $0.11
 Total Ingredient cost: $4.34