I am pleased to introduce the latest dough calculating tool—the Preferment Dough Calculating Tool. This tool, which is available at http://www.pizzamaking.com/dough_tools.html
, was designed primarily for use with natural preferments. Natural preferments are those consisting of only flour, water and natural (wild) yeast. Although many members use natural preferments all by themselves, other members prefer to supplement them with commercial yeast. The new tool allows one to have that option if desired. The term “preferment” as used with the new tool is intended to be broad enough to cover its use purely as a leavening agent, as is sometimes done for Neapolitan-style doughs and where typically the amount of the preferment is very small.
For best results, the Preferment tool should be used with proven dough formulations where there is a known set of workable baker’s percents. Beyond that, one is free to create new dough formulations, but with the caution that entering a given set of data into the tool does not guarantee a workable dough formulation. But, within the parameters of the tool, there should be many opportunities to devise new and creative dough formulations.
The following are the key features of the new tool:Thickness Factor and Dough Weight Options
. Like the earlier tools (Lehmann and Deep-Dish), the Preferment tool gives users two options by which the ingredients and their quantities can be specified—the Thickness Factor option and the Dough Weight option. To use the Thickness Factor option, the user enters a known thickness factor (TF), a set of workable baker’s percents, the pizza size, and the desired number of pizzas. The user can also specify the desired shape of the pizza—either round or rectangular (which includes square). The latter feature should be especially useful to those who wish to make Sicilian or similar-style pizzas. In selecting this feature, the tool prompts the user to specify the dimensions (length and width) of the pizza (or of the particular pan to be used).
For those who are interested, for a round pizza with a radius R, the TF equals the weight of the desired dough ball divided by Pi (3.14159) x R2
; for a rectangular/square pizza with length and width dimensions L x W, the TF equals the weight of the dough ball divided by L x W.
The Dough Weight option is especially useful to those who already have a dough weight in mind to begin with. To use this option, the user enters that dough weight along with a known set of baker’s percents and the number of dough balls desired. The dough ball weight can be specified in either grams or ounces. There is no need to enter a thickness factor with this option.
In each of the above scenarios, the Preferment tool will produce a set of data (ingredients and quantities) corresponding to the data entered into the tool.Preferment.
The Preferment tool allows users to specify the amount of preferment in any one of three different ways: 1) as a percent of total formula flour, 2) as a percent of total formula water, or 3) as a percent of total dough weight. Often, the particular method used by a given dough recipe is specified, or it can be calculated from the ingredients and their quantities as specified in the recipe. In addition to specifying the particular preferment method, the user is required to specify the percent of water used in the preferment. This is not the same as the “hydration” of the preferment (defined as the weight of water divided by the weight of flour, and expressed as a percent), but rather the ratio of water, by weight, to the total weight of the preferment. This method was intentionally selected since it appears to be the more common method among many of our members who regularly work with natural preferments.Preferment/Commercial Yeast Combination.
As indicated above, users can supplement a natural preferment with commercial yeast. The supplementation takes place as part of the final mix when the preferment is combined with all of the remaining ingredients, including the commercial yeast, to prepare the final dough. The commercial yeast can be active dry yeast (ADY), instant dry yeast (IDY) or cake yeast, as desired.Salt Options, and Oil and Sugar.
Along with the standard salt choices, the Preferment tool also allows one to select the Diamond Crystal brand of Kosher salt, which some members prefer over the Morton’s brand or is the only Kosher salt brand available to them where they shop. Also, users can elect to use oil and/or sugar as part of the dough formulation. The oil and sugar choices should be especially useful to those who use a preferment to make Neapolitan style pizzas in standard (unmodified) home ovens.Bowl Residue.
To compensate for minor losses of dough that can occur during preparation (due to flour, water and dough sticking to bowls, implements, fingers, work surfaces, etc.), the tool allows users to increase the quantities of ingredients to compensate for such losses by specifying a percent increase. That percent will vary from case to case, but unless one is making a very wet and sticky dough it will usually be less than 4%. It is anticipated that users will determine the best percent to use in any given situation based on experience. If the finished dough exceeds the desired final dough weight, those with scales can trim the final finished dough of the excess.
It will be noted that when the Thickness Factor method is used, the “final” thickness factor reflecting the bowl residue amount will appear in the data section, and also in a printout of the results produced by the Deep-Dish tool. To preserve all of the data, including the initial thickness factor before compensation, it is strongly recommended that users print out a copy of the completed page, using the “Print” button provided for this purpose.Presentation of Data.
The Preferment tool was designed to conform to the way that preferment-based dough formulations are typically constructed and displayed, but using a text format rather than charts and graphs. There are three parts to the textual data presentation: Total Formula, Preferment, and Final Dough. The Total Formula section represents the total dough formulation and displays all of the underlying baker’s percents, but for the Preferment itself. A part of the flour and water used in the Total Formula represents the Preferment itself, which is shown separately below the Total Formula data. The last section, the Final Dough section, provides all of the remaining ingredients and their quantities that are combined, along with the Preferment, to prepare the final dough. For most users, the Final Dough section will be sufficient by itself. However, the totality of data may be useful to those who wish to copy and paste all of the data in posts on the forum.Expanded Data Fields.
Like the other dough calculating tools, the Preferment tool has been designed to have expanded data fields for several of the boxes into which values are entered so that users can enter numbers with several decimal places. This should allow for increased precision and fine-tuning of the results produced by the tool, particularly for those who convert existing recipes to baker’s percents and calculate thickness factors and the like and end up with numbers with several decimal places. It will be noted that if a user fails to enter a number into a box as required, that is, the entry box is left completely blank, the failure to enter a number (even a 0) will cause the error expression “NaN” to appear in the data section.Copy Feature.
A Copy “button” is included in the Preferment tool to allow users to copy information from the textual data sections into posts or some other document, such as a Word document that might be used to compose replies to be posted on the forum. The information copied can be entered directly into the posts or other documents, by using a menu “paste” command or a “Control + V” keyboard command. Using the Copy button ensures that all of the data line up, thereby eliminating the need to do corrective “realignment” work when previewing replies to be posted on the forum.“Stealth” Lehmann-like Tool.
A clever and useful feature of the new tool is that if no preferment inputs are entered into the tool, the tool will behave just like the recently updated Lehmann tool but without recommended baker’s percents. The only section of the data displayed will be the Total Formula data field.Baker's Percents Usage.
This tool is intended to work with normal baker's percents, and entries should be made as such in the tool. There should be no leading 0s. For example, if the hydration percent is 62%, it should be entered into the applicable field in the tool as the number 62, not 062. Otherwise, the results will be incorrect.
Many of the features described above will become more readily apparent from using the tool or by simply playing around with the tool by entering different sets of values. I am sure that Pete-zza, who worked with me on the tool, will have additional helpful comments and observations.