Ask Big Dave: Dough Rounding

Q: We currently make up our dough, round it and put it in baggies. We use it within a couple of days, and this works well for us. My question is: Do we need the rounding step, or could we just cut and bag? Eliminating the rounding step could save a substantial amount of time over the course of the week/month/year. Would there be any loss in qual­ity of the end product?

Alex Gordon, Pastry Chef
Senator Inn and Spa
Augusta, Maine

A: Hello, Chef Alex. Fresh-made pizza dough balls have a memory. I also weighed out and rolled all of my dough balls to be used at a later date. If you skip the rounding it will become almost impossible to create a round finished dough skin. The shape you start with is generally the shape you end up with. Start with a star-shaped piece and you’ll end with a larger star shaped skin. The only exception to the rule is when you flatten dough by running it through a sheeter. After placing the oversized dough skin on a cutter pan or screen, the excess edge is cut off with a knife or roller cutter. This creates a round base but you won’t have much of a raised dough edge. I’d keep doing what you’re doing. I allowed a dough prepper nine seconds to manually shape my dough balls.

Instead of storing my fresh dough balls in plastic bags, I placed them staggered, “smooth side up,” on a common 18-inch by 27-inch lightly oiled aluminum sheet pan. I then covered the whole tray with either a piece of 24” film wrap to make it airtight or a bun pan bag. I dated the tray, with a magic marker or label, and stored these dough balls on a rolling speed rack in the walk in cooler. We used the oldest dough first.

I have to tell you that I fell in love with a com­mercial dough roller after using one at a client’s operation on Hilton Head Island. Although many operators consider these pieces of equipment a luxury purchase, I think not. After hand rolling my first million or so dough balls, your poor “tennis elbow” inflamed forearm will thank you.

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.