Q Why do I need to cross-stack boxes of dough balls in the cooler? Coming back later to down-stack the boxes is a
A Cross-stacking the dough boxes allows the dough balls to cool down at a consistent, uniform rate. If
the dough boxes are not cross-stacked, the heat in the
dough will allow moisture trapped in the box to condense on the colder box surfaces, where it will drip onto
the dough. These water-spotted dough balls can exhibit
sticky handling properties and a strong tendency to bubble
during baking. Even worse, if the dough balls don’t cool
down uniformly, the amount of fermentation the dough
receives during the next 24 to 72 hours (or more) will
strongly depend on the finished dough temperature; a difference of only two degrees can have a significant impact
on dough quality and performance. The length of time
the dough boxes remain cross-stacked is also important, as
any variation can result in changes in dough performance,
especially after several days of storage in the cooler.
If you have difficulty fitting the cross-stack and down-stack times into your schedule, there’s another option.
Lightly oil the dough balls and place them in individual
plastic bags immediately after balling; the open end of the
bag should be twisted into a ponytail and tucked under
the dough ball. Now the dough, placed on a metal sheet
pan or into a conventional dough box, can go straight
into the cooler without any additional covering. If you
use dough boxes, simply cross-stack them and go home.
When you return the next morning, you can down-stack
them for long-term storage.
This alternative method works well because the bag
is pulled firmly around the dough ball for full contact;
the bag offers little insulation, so the dough cools at a
predictable rate. The bag also prevents the dough balls
from drying out during a longer-than-normal cross-stack
period. But note that it’s important to tuck the twisted
ponytail under the dough ball; this allows for some expansion of the dough ball without bursting the bag. For those
of you with reach-in coolers, this is also the best way to
manage your dough balls, as cross-stacking is impossible,
and offset stacking is only marginally effective.
to Cross-Stacking Dough
IN LEHMANN’S TERMS
Tom Lehmann was the longtime director of bakery assistance for the American Institute of
Baking (AIB). He is now an industry consultant dedicated to helping pizzeria operators make
more money. Need more dough advice? Visit the Dough Information Center at PMQ.com/dough.
If cross-stacking creates scheduling problems,
storing dough balls in plastic bags might be the
solution you’re looking for. By Tom Lehmann C A M B