The Fresh Loaf

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Pizza dough cold fermentation yeast challenges

Tyaf610's picture

Pizza dough cold fermentation yeast challenges

So I am making pizza dough on a large scale at a pizzeria. We use a Hobart mixer as well.

50 lbs flour

15.5 quarts cold water

8 oz compressed yeast (cake yeast)

14.3 oz salt

I add the water and yeast to the mixer first and stir that around for a couple minutes until all the yeast is mixed in. Then I add the the flour and set the mixer for 8 min. Once that cycle is done, I let the dough rest in the mixer for about 5 min, then I set the mixer to a faster speed and start another 8 min cycle during which the salt is added. After that cycle is finished, the dough comes out of the mixer and split it into two separate pieces. Then put each piece of dough into a black trash bag, tie it up, set it in a bus tub, then i put the bus tub in the walk-in refrigerator so it can cold ferment for 3 days. I have noticed that when they sit in the trash bags during those 3 days, the gases from the yeast will make the trash bags expand to look like huge balloons. Sometimes the bags end up being stretched beyond their capacity and they tear, or sometimes we have to poke a hole in the bags to release the gas in order to rotate the dough when we make more. Here is the kicker too, sometimes some of the bags won't even expand during the 3 day cold ferment. So my question/concern is this. How does the gas in the bags affect the dough during that 3 day process? And does creating a hole in the bag the release the gas negatively affect the dough? Any advice would be very helpful.

pjkobulnicky's picture

The gas is CO2 from the fermentation. The plastic is to keep the dough from drying out in the refrigerator over those three days. Poking a small hole in the plastic will likely do no harm to the dough. The gas can escape and that's OK and the small hole will not let too much air in to dry out the dough.

CelesteU's picture

Are those black plastic trash bags considered foodsafe?  Hmm.  What's the purpose of bagging the dough if you're putting it into a bus tub anyway?  Seems it would be cheaper to put it directly into appropriate sized, reuseable tubs than a throwaway bag.  You've got to wash those tubs anyway.  (but maybe you have other reasons for bagging then tubbing)

Anyway, the variations in fermentation rate are mostly due to time and temperature.  Is your flour always at the same temp, or do you take the temp of the flour and adjust the temp of the water accordingly?  Is the water chilled to a consistent temp, or are you simply using cold out of the tap?  40 degree flour versus 70 degree flour will make a big difference in the yeast's behavior.  It's easier to adjust the temp of the water than to try to change the flour's temp.

jaywillie's picture

Food-safe garbage bags -- I sure hope so, or I wouldn't eat that dough. Sorry to hijack the original question. Most bags sold as garbage bags are *not* food safe. Some even have insecticides and antibacterial agents in the plastic. Ziploc makes a line of very large food-safe plastic bags. They are sold as storage bags (not garbage bags), but they are definitely food safe. [ Check the FAQ on that page and you'll see they are food-safe.]

Why don't you just vent the bags on a regular basis? Just open them up and let the air escape, then seal them back up. The inconsistency of the ferment is a bit interesting. It could be the dough temp is different for some reason, or the yeast is not distributed. 

I also would suggest you try fermenting in divided balls. Seems easier.

patnx2's picture

the dough right out of the mixer and use individual plastic bags then into cooler.I have never experienced working with that much dough but I have read discussions of both methods. If you work in pizza business can you tell us what type pizza you make?  Patrick from Modesto

FlourChild's picture

Your process suggests that the yeast is evenly distributed, so no problem there.  If you always put the same amount of dough into a plastic bag, then batch size (and the change in the rate at which is cools) isn't an issue, either.  You mention "cold" water, is that at a constant temp?  Variation of water temp can have a big impact.    

Could it be as simple as inconsistent sealing of the bags?  That is, sometimes they are tied or closed more tightly, so that gas can't escape, while other times they are tied more loosely, so that gas escapes and doesn't build up.