Q: We want to use pre-weighed “goodie bags” for our ingredients that would include the yeast, but I’ve read that it is not recommended that yeast and salt or sugar be allowed to come into direct contact with each other. How do they do this commercially?
A: Goodie bags are an excellent way to manage your dough preparation process. They can also reduce or eliminate the possibility of scaling errors (which might happen when the doughs are scaled by different individuals under potentially distracting conditions). And, to some extent, the use of goodie bags can also help speed up the dough preparation process as fewer ingredients will need to be individually weighed at the time the dough is made.
What you read about not allowing the yeast to come into direct contact with the salt or sugar is good advice, but only when using compressed/fresh yeast. The dry forms of yeast do not come under this restriction, but you still need to give thought to the type of dry yeast used in making goodie bags. Active dry yeast (ADY) is not a good candidate for use in a goodie bag since it should be pre-hydrated in 100 F water for about 10 minutes prior to addition to the dough to get the full leavening effect. Instant dry yeast (IDY), on the other hand, does not need to be pre-hydrated if the total dough mixing time exceeds four minutes (most pizza doughs do). The IDY can be blended right in with the other ingredients making up the goodie bag. Since a typical goodie bag might contain a small amount of flour as a diluent (one pound is sufficient for a goodie bag to make a dough based on up to 50 pounds of flour weight), all of the salt, any sugar (if used), IDY and any other dry ingredients that might be included in the formulation, it is customary to add the dough water to the bowl first, followed by the flour, and then add the dry ingredients of the goodie bag right on top of the flour. After that, mix your dough in the normal manner. The oil can be added along with the water, but tests that we have conducted conclusively showed that dough consistency improved if the oil was added in what we call the “delayed oil addition” method. By this method, the dough is mixed for two minutes or a little less at low speed, just until no white/dry flour is seen in the bottom of the mixing bowl. The oil is then added and mixed for one more minute at low speed. After that the dough can be mixed in your normal manner.
No discussion on goodie bags would be complete without mention of the shelf life. The recommended way to package the goodie bags is to weigh the ingredients into a suitable sized plastic bag, like a bread bag. Plastic boxes or other containers are not recommended as they will allow for “head space” above the dry ingredients. This head space is deleterious to the viability of the yeast/IDY. When bread or bread type bags are used the bag can be twisted down tight against the dry ingredients, thus eliminating any head space and allowing for an ambient temperature storage shelf life of four to six weeks. In many cases I’ve seen the shelf life of goodie bags prepared in this manner out to as far as eight weeks with good performance still reported.
Tom Lehmann is a former director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas, and Pizza Today’s resident dough expert.