On another note; oddly enough I ended up needing to keep my sugar level at the same as it was prior to adding the malt. I wasn't getting the browning I wanted with just malt alone, and upping the malt levels led to gumminess.
Just to confirm, this is the Maltorose™ Dough Improver that you're using, right? Is it safe to assume that KA malt powder outperformed the Breiss?
1. For a commercial size batch of dough, I assume that I need to ferment in something large enough to allow for doubling in size, correct? I was thinking trash can, or very large tupperware tub. Any thoughts on containers?
Tupperware is fine, although I'm not sure how large tupperware goes. You might get into hot water with your food inspector if you use a trash can for food, as the material might not be food safe. You might touch base with your health department and see what kind of containers they approve. If you want to play it really safe, I'd go with cambro:http://cool.cambro.com/Camwear_Boxes_Food_Boxes_Storage.ashx
If the health department gives the okay for other materials, then your typical walmart/home depot storage bin might do the trick. I might go towards clear plastic. Perhaps something like this:http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/911642/Iris-44-Quart-Plastic-Storage-Box/
If you watch this Anthony Mangieri video (00:35),
you'll see he's using something similar for his pre-ferment. He's also adding flour to a rubbermaid bin on the floor.
You might want to experiment with something cheap and then, after everything is running smoothly, then maybe move up to cambro, depending on what your health department says.
2. Do you have to put anything in the container in order to get the dough back out? coat it in flour?
This is a good question. There's a few variables involved, such as dough tackiness (a result of hydration/gluten development) and container material. If the dough is relatively non tacky, you should be able to get it out of the bulk container with just a plastic scraper. If in doubt, there's nothing wrong with a very light oiling.
4. Scott you also mentioned altering yeast quantities.
Yes, if you're going with a room temp bulk, you're doing two things to accelerate fermentation activity. The act of bulk fermentation accelerates yeast activity in itself because the core of the dough is insulated by the outer layer, retains heat, and ferments a bit faster. You're also, by fermenting at room temp, going to really ramp up the yeast. I would start with something pretty drastically low, perhaps .05% yeast, and see how much it expands overnight. You don't want it to double, necessarily, prior to balling, but you do want some increase in volume. The goal is less about doubling prior to balling and more about doubling/tripling prior to stretching. Whatever yeast amount/pre-ball volume gets you to a 2x/3x pre-stretch volume, that's the winner.
One pain in the behind about the process you use to determine yeast quantities is that scale is integral to bulk fermentation. If you fine tune this for a small scale test batch, you're going to have to do further yeast adjustments for a production size batch. I might start with a relatively small test batch, just so you're not wasting too much if the results are way off. Be conservative with the yeast. It's better to not have the test dough ready and have to use it a day later than to have it overflowing from your bulk container.
The most important aspect of a room temp ferment is that you need a stable room temp. If the area where you're bulk fermenting varies more than about 6 degrees, then I might rethink the bulk.
Beyond yeast, one other consideration of a bulk ferment is the tendency, imo, for gluten to get a bit more sensitive after fermenting a bit. A late ball could really ramp up your gluten development if you're not careful. Ball gently. No kneading during the ball, just one or two times over itself and pinch to shut. You also might want to back off the initial knead a bit to compensate. If you're cold fermenting, you really shouldn't be kneading that much anyway.
5. Since we hand stretch and toss our dough, should I be prepared for any unforeseen difficulties in doing this with a bulk batch? We throw a 20" house pie, so good workability is a must.
Annie, it's important to remember that you're not really doing anything terribly different with a bulk ferment than a balled one. When you ferment in bulk, you're saving space and accelerating the fermentation rate a bit. As long as you dial back the yeast enough, you'll be fine.