2011 June: Ask Big Dave

I’m experimenting with how many ounces of dough to use for a stromboli and calzone, as well as 10-inch, 12-inch, 14-inch, 16-inch, 18-inch and 20-inch pies. Can you please help me out?

Josh Johnson
Syracuse, New York

Hi, Josh. Here is my rule of thumb for dough ball weights: multiply the area of the circle (square inches) times 0.11. Let’s do an example for a 14-inch pizza. You find the number of square inches in a circle by taking pie (3.14) times the radius (half of the diameter, which would be seven in this case) squared. That comes out to 153.86 square inches. Round that up to 154. Now, take 154 and multiply by 0.11. That equals 16.94. Round that up to 17.
So, I use a 17-inch dough ball for a 14-inch pizza. This produces a nice medium thickness. If you want it thinner, drop the multiplier to 0.1. If you want a thicker crust, raise it to 0.13.
As for calzones, they generally use less dough than pizza. Start by using a small dough ball for a large calzone, then experiment from there until you get it the way you want it.

I just read an article in Pizza Today about making your own dough. I am making the transition from frozen dough balls to making my own dough and I have a question for you. Can you provide me a starter recipe to work from? I am using a 30-quart mixer and need a little direction. Can you help me?

Sean Shiers
Smackdaddy Pizza
Longmont, Colorado

Sean, if you aren’t familiar with baker’s percent, it’s time you familiarize yourself with it. Recipes presented in this format can be easily adapted for any size mixer. So if you change sizes you are still guaranteed a consistent product. Just remember that flour is always 100 percent. The other ingredients are based on flour weight. Let’s say you were using 50 pounds of flour. When you see water listed at 55 percent, that means you take 55 percent of 50 pounds, which is 27.5 pounds. That’s your flour weight. Repeat the process for each ingredient.
Got it?
Here’s the recipe:

Flour, 100 percent
Water, 55 percent
Oil, 2.2 percent
Salt, 1.5 percent
Sugar, 1.25 percent
Instant Yeast, 0.16 percent

One final helpful tip. It’s much more accurate and easier to utilize this recipe if you convert pounds to ounces. Remember, there are 16 ounces in a pound. So that 27.5 pounds of water, based on the example with 50 pounds of flour, checks in at 440 ounces.

Big Dave Ostrander owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and internationally sought-after trainer. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.

You’ve got questions … our expert has the answers. Submit your questions via e-mail to Jeremy White (jwhite@pizzatoday.com) — make sure to put “Ask Big Dave” in the subject line. We’ll pass the best questions on to Dave each month for his highly sought-after advice.