Q We want to increase our volume, so we were thinking about prebaking our dough until it’s lightly browned and setting
it aside for later use when we get really busy. This would reduce
baking time and allow us to make more pizzas in rush periods.
Is this a viable technique?
A It appears you’re talking about making par-baked crusts for those busy periods when you get slammed.
There is good news and bad news regarding the use of
par-baked crusts. The good news is, they can be made
during slow periods for use later in the day. We like to
make the crusts using about one-half of the normal
amount of sauce on the skin, which prevents excessive
bubbling. Once par-baked, the crusts can be stored at
room temperature for the remainder of the day without
The resulting pizzas are excellent, especially if crispy
is the name of your game. They also require less time to
finish baking than baking a pizza on a raw dough skin,
so it becomes a real time- and labor-saver.
The bad news, however, is that the finished pizza will
be different from a pizza made using a raw dough skin.
So, to ensure consistency of product, all of your pizzas
will need to be made using the par-baked crust approach.
And the baking conditions for making a par-baked crust
differ from the conditions for baking a pizza on a raw
dough skin, so that has to be taken into account. Some
operators use two ovens to resolve this issue. If you use
an air impingement oven, the entire finger configuration
of the oven for par-baking (as well as for the finish bake)
will need to be changed. That’s because pizzas made on
a par-baked crust are baked from the top down, while
pizzas baked on a raw skin cook from the bottom up.
Instead of par-baking, another option would be to
make the dough skins in advance of your busy periods
and store them in refrigeration until they’re needed. In
this case, you’ll want to open the dough into skins during
your downtime. However, instead of opening them to full
diameter, open them to about 2” less than full diameter
(this may require some experimentation to get it right).
The opened skins should then be placed onto regular
pizza screens, stored on a wire tree rack and inserted into
the cooler (uncovered), allowing the skins to cool quickly.
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.
Par-baking your dough skins for later use has its
advantages and disadvantages.
By Tom Lehmann