Author Topic: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)  (Read 30688 times)

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Offline maxrogers

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Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« on: August 21, 2009, 08:37:49 PM »
Does anyone have a recipe for pizza dough that would provide a result as similar as possible to pizza crust at Costco? (not the take-and-bake)

From what I have read Costco gets their dough from Lamonica's: http://lamonicaspizzadough.com/homex.html
see comments on that topic here: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4512.msg78225.html#msg78225

I would really like to duplicate the dough if possible. Ideally I would like to create dough balls that I could freeze and defrost as needed that would provide a similar pizza crust. If you have a recipe or suggestion let me know! Thanks!  ;D

Also FYI, these are the handling instructions as listed on Lamonica's website:

PIZZA DOUGH BALLS

   1. Place the frozen dough ball in an oiled container; spray some oil on top and cover.
   2. Leave out at room temperature (time will depend on the temperature in the kitchen, and the time of year).
   3. When the dough reaches to 2/3’s the size of the container it is ready for use.  If you are not planning to use it within an hour place in your refrigerator.
   4. Remove the proofed dough, and make a great pizza.

Tips
   1. Dough should be at least 75 degrees before cooking.
   2. Dough can begin thawing in the Refrigerator.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2009, 09:09:13 PM by maxrogers »


Offline maxrogers

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2009, 09:00:45 PM »
Here are some pictures to get the creative juices flowing (and mouth salivating...)  :pizza:

     http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyandbrandon/2970770644/
     http://www.flickr.com/photos/yummyinthetummyblog/2608847188/
     http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdong/3776356793/

It really is my favorite crust with Papa John's as a close second (yes, I am going to try Pete-zza's PJ crust recipe)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2009, 09:03:26 PM by maxrogers »

Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2009, 08:56:17 PM »
Went to costco the other day,  the clerk asked me if i wanted a box for my stuff this is what he gave me. Thought it might help this thread out a bit.  -marc

Offline UnConundrum

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2009, 09:34:03 PM »
Wonder what "Wheat" they're adding in addition to flour...

Offline maxrogers

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2009, 11:52:12 PM »
Went to costco the other day,  the clerk asked me if i wanted a box for my stuff this is what he gave me. Thought it might help this thread out a bit.  -marc

Very interesting! Thanks Marc!

So we can assume from the box that the frozen dough balls weigh 30oz each (so a 30oz frozen dough ball to make the Costco 18" pizza crust.)

What else can we learn from the ingredients? Anyone with experience trying to decipher ingredients? Pete-zza?  ;D

Does the "wheat" ingredient really mean that something is added besides wheat flour?  ???

According to: http://calorielab.com/restaurants/costco/pepperoni-pizza/2005/17651
The Nutritional info for 1/6th of a 18" pizza is (see attached picture:)

A 16" Papa Johns pizza nutritional info (far right:)
http://www.papajohns.com/menu/popup_pepperoni.shtm
« Last Edit: September 02, 2009, 12:13:39 AM by maxrogers »

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2009, 01:41:10 PM »
What else can we learn from the ingredients? Anyone with experience trying to decipher ingredients? Pete-zza?  ;D

Does the "wheat" ingredient really mean that something is added besides wheat flour?  ???


maxrogers,

One thing is certain. The listing of ingredients on the box is not by predominance of ingredients by weight. A more logical sequence would be flour, water, olive oil, yeast, salt, and wheat. However, because frozen dough usually uses a lot more yeast than normal, to offset the damage done to yeast by freezing dough, an alternative sequence might be flour, water, yeast, olive oil, salt and wheat. By "wheat", I am guessing it is vital wheat gluten since adding vital wheat gluten is quite common for frozen doughs. For example, Pizza Hut, which uses a lot of frozen doughs in its business, uses vital wheat gluten in just about all of such doughs. See, for example, http://www.pizzahut.com/Files/PDF/ph_ingredients.pdf. What we don't know is how much vital wheat gluten might be used, even on a relative basis.

I might add that Donatos, which also ships frozen dough to its stores (I believe already in skin form), also uses vital wheat gluten in such doughs, according to the following ingredients information that was supplied to me some time ago by Donatos:

Traditional dough: Enriched bleached flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid), water, yeast, shortening (partially hydrogenated soybean oil), may contain 2% or less or the following: sugar, salt, whey, dough conditioner (vital wheat gluten, datem, ascorbic acid), buttermilk powder, (buttermilk whey, sodium caseinate and lactic acid), modified cornstarch, maltodextrin, corn meal natural and artificial flavors.

There are also some frozen dough producers who use whole wheat, wheat starch or wheat protein isolates in "white" frozen doughs, such as bread doughs, so it is possible that "wheat" in the Lamonica's frozen dough balls is one of those forms. I believe that wheat protein isolate is similar to vital wheat gluten but with a slightly higher protein content (around 90%). For an example of the use of whole wheat in an otherwise white flour frozen dough, see the frozen pizza dough product sold at Walmart's, at http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=10448680#ProductDetail.

The nutrition information on the Costco slices you provided is incomplete. Even with better data, it is hard to decipher and deconstruct the nutrition data to arrive at the underlying dough formulation, even for the simplest pizza comprising only sauce and cheese (and not pepperoni with all of the salt, fat, dextrose sugar, and cholesterol). Also, companies report nutrition data differently. Most report nutrition data based on baked pizzas but some, such as Papa Gino's, reports nutrition data based on unbaked pizzas, or so I was told by an official at Papa Gino's in the case of its pizzas.

Based on thirty ounces of dough for an 18" pizza, the corresponding thickness factor is 30/(3.14159 x 9 x 9) = 0.1178926. That represents a medium crust thickness. It is less than what Papa John's uses for its doughs based on my research on that subject.

If I were attempting to come up with a Lamonica frozen dough clone, I would be inclined to be guided by the principles that I laid out for frozen dough at Reply 721 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg62457/topicseen.html#msg62457, except that I would leave out the honey and soy and replace part of the formula flour with vital wheat gluten. I would then use the Dough Weight option, at 30 ounces for an 18" pizza, in the expanded dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/expanded_calculator.html (and replace part of the formula flour with vital wheat gluten). It is important to keep in mind, however, that static freezing of dough in a standard home refrigerator freezer compartment, or even a standalone freezer, is not the same as the type of freezing used by commercial frozen dough ball producers like Lamonica's. They use blast freezing using very expensive equipment and temperatures of from -25 degrees F to -65 degrees F. For a useful discussion of both static freezing in the home and blast freezing, see this PMQ Think Tank thread: http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?p=20450#20450.

What Marc posted was very helpful if only to rule out certain ingredients that are also commonly used in making frozen dough balls, like sugar or some other sweetener, or soy, for example. What is somewhat disturbing, however, is that Lamonica's did not list the ingredients by predominance of weight, which is a fairly standard industry practice. Who knows whether they may have left something out?

Peter

« Last Edit: October 22, 2009, 04:49:26 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline dicepackage

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2009, 09:37:41 PM »
I went to Costco today and had to grab a slice.  It was hard to wait until I got home to eat the slice but I managed to do it.  Anyway I took these pictures in the hopes that someone can do something with them.  The pizza itself had a very chewy crust but the sauce seemed to be the real kicker to this pizza.

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2009, 10:23:19 PM »
Can anyone tell me how the Costco pizzas are baked and the type of oven used? Also, are the pizzas baked on pans or on screens or disks?

The photos shown by dicepackage strongly suggest a dough that was perhaps at the end of the fermentation window, based on the small fermentation blisters formed in the rim of the pizza and the "craters" on the bottom of the crust. The craters look like those formed in Sicilian pizza crusts that are baked with a lot of oil in the pan. The bottom crust of the pizza slice shown by dicepackage does not look like one baked on a screen or disk. It looks more like one baked on a pan where the oil is trapped between the bottom crust and the pan to create the craters shown.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 11:11:09 PM by Pete-zza »

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2009, 11:08:29 PM »
I think I may have found the answer to my question on the type of oven used: http://www.energysolutionscenter.org/docs/uploads/Case_Studies/Pizza_Oven_Costco.pdf.

Peter
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 10:03:16 PM by Pete-zza »


Offline Essen1

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2009, 12:31:19 AM »
No offense to anyone on here who likes the Costco pizza. I've had it only a couple of times while shopping and it was probably the unhealthiest, greasiest and blandest slice of pie I ever tasted.

But to each his/her own.

I'm surprised that Lamonicas's website doesn't list the full ingredients anywhere. My suggestion, for what it's worth, is to start out with a solid American pizza formula - and there are tons of them on this board - and then work your way up to the crust of your liking.

Just a thought or two...

Happy baking.
Mike

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2009, 08:16:46 PM »
I have posted below another photo of a Costco pizza that I found online on a Tuscon-area blog. I posted the photo to draw a contrast between that pizza and the one posted by dicepackage. If I had to guess, I would say that the Tuscon Costco pizza was made using dough that was newly defrosted because of the lack of color or blistering on the rim or other signs of fermentation. It is important to keep in mind that frozen dough balls undergo no fermentation during freezing. So, there are no byproducts of fermentation to contribute to the color and taste of the finished crust. Those byproducts commence during the defrosting of the dough balls and the subsequent time spent at room temperature. I am fairly confident that dicepackage's pizza was made toward the end of the useful life of the dough ball that was used to make his pizza. On a relative basis, his pizza should have been tastier than the average Costco pizza.

Most pizza operators who use frozen dough balls will tell you that it is hard to get more than two or three days of use out of the frozen dough balls. That is because of the large amount of yeast used and the tendency of the dough balls to become gassy and slack the longer they sit at room temperature. Usually the unused dough balls at the end of the day are used to make breadsticks or the like or just pitched.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 04, 2009, 08:19:12 PM by Pete-zza »

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2009, 01:35:23 PM »
I see from Lydia's post at Reply 11 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4512.msg38290/topicseen.html#msg38290 that the Costco she visited uses a copious amount of oil in the dough storage containers and that the pizzas are pressed in a dough press and baked on perforated metal sheets (most likely perforated disks). The large amount of oil plausibly explains the bottom crust cratering shown in dicepackage's upskirt photo, and looking at that photo it appears that the dark circular spots (which appear to be equi-distant) are due to the crust baking through the perforations. Since I have a perforated disk, and a perforated cutter pan as well, I have witnessed the spotting that occurs on the bottom crust due to the perforations. For example, see Reply 250 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1911.msg51107.html#msg51107.

Despite the fact that a frozen dough made in a home environment and subject to repeated freeze/thaw cycles is not the same or as good as a frozen Lamonica's dough, and that a standard home oven is not the same as a conveyor oven, I think that it is unlikely that we are going to get much more information than what is currently reflected in this thread and in the related Costco threads/posts. I think you guys should now be in a good position to proceed to come up with a suitable dough formulation and to make a Lamonica's frozen clone dough if you are still interested.

Peter

Offline maxrogers

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2009, 02:29:20 PM »
I see from Lydia's post at Reply 11 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4512.msg38290/topicseen.html#msg38290 that the Costco she visited uses a copious amount of oil in the dough storage containers and that the pizzas are pressed in a dough press and baked on perforated metal sheets (most likely perforated disks). The large amount of oil plausibly explains the bottom crust cratering shown in dicepackage's upskirt photo, and looking at that photo it appears that the dark circular spots (which appear to be equi-distant) are due to the crust baking through the perforations. Since I have a perforated disk, and a perforated cutter pan as well, I have witnessed the spotting that occurs on the bottom crust due to the perforations. For example, see Reply 250 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1911.msg51107.html#msg51107.

Despite the fact that a frozen dough made in a home environment and subject to repeated freeze/thaw cycles is not the same or as good as a frozen Lamonica's dough, and that a standard home oven is not the same as a conveyor oven, I think that it is unlikely that we are going to get much more information than what is currently reflected in this thread and in the related Costco threads/posts. I think you guys should now be in a good position to proceed to come up with a suitable dough formulation and to make a Lamonica's frozen clone dough if you are still interested.

Peter

Peter, Awesome information!!! I don't know how you pick these things out! You are a Pizza God!  ;D

We really appreciate your input on this. It sounds like our best bet might be to start with a recipe that is similar and then modify a few things to see if we can apply some of the unique characteristics (try copious oil in storage containers and baking on perf metal sheets.) We should probably take the frozen concept out of the equation for the time being...

Do you have a suggestion for one of the recipes here that might give us a good starting point (have you tried a Costco pizza?) I don't have a very discerning palate but I think what I like about the pizza is the chewiness and flavor of the crust. I personally am less concerned with the sauce and toppings (focused on the crust although the sauce does have an interesting flavor.)

Found this (Costco pizza -Middleby Marshall oven for $11!  :o : ) http://restaurantequipment123.com/product_info.php?products_id=677  + $250 shipping

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2009, 03:44:33 PM »
maxrogers,

Since we have gone this far down the path of trying to clone a Lamonica's frozen dough ball, I think we should continue on that path. I think we all can learn something from making and using frozen doughs. I also think that I can come up with a clone dough formulation to use as a starting point. I have never had a Costco's pizza, but that shouldn't deter you, or dicepackage, from being our taste tester(s) on this one.

What would be helpful to know is what size pizzas you want to make and how many. I make the same offer to dicepackage, your principal co-conspirator in this endeavor. The Costco slice pizza is 18", and perforated disks (and perforated cutter pans) at that size can be quite expensive, as noted at the American Metalcraft website at http://www.amnow.com/Pizza-Trays/Perforated-Disks/Perf-Disks and also at the Lloyd Pans/pizzatools.com website at http://www.pizzatools.com/SearchByCategory.aspx?CategoryCode=056000#056036 (disks) and at http://www.pizzatools.com/SearchByCategory.aspx?CategoryCode=051000 (cutter pans). The bare aluminum disks and cutter pans are quite a bit less expensive than the dark, anodized disks and cutter pans, but they may need seasoning and, even then, it may take making an above average number of pizzas in a home oven before the disks or pans take on a darker color and produce a nicer crust color (dark pans absorb heat, whereas light pans reflect it). In Lydia's post at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4512.msg38290/topicseen.html#msg38290, she mentioned hole sizes of 3/8". I don't know how she calibrated her eyeballs to be able to tell the hole size from a distance, but you will note that the perforated disks from American Metalcraft are stated to be 3/8". One plus for the AM pans is that they are discounted by the restaurant supply companies that carry their products.

In lieu of using perforated disks or cutter pans, it may be possible to use pizza screens. However, I wouldn't advocate using doughs dripping in oil on pizza screens since the oil might drip onto the lower electric heating coil in the oven and catch fire. You are also unlikely to get the bottom crust cratering effect with a pizza screen, if such is desired.

I should add that we are not restricted on pizza size. We know that a Lamonica dough ball to make an 18" Costco slice pizza is 30 ounces. That translates to a thickness factor of 30/(3.14159 x 9 x 9) = 0.117893. Using that value in the expanded dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/expanded_calculator.html, we can scale the dough weight for any size pizza.

Once I hear back from you and/or dicepackage, I think I can come up with something to get you guys going. What I have in mind is using something like the King Arthur bread flour and supplementing it with vital wheat gluten to increase its protein content. If you have a particular brand of vital wheat gluten that you would prefer to use, please let me know what the brand is. It will also simplify matters to use IDY instead of ADY or fresh yeast.

Peter

Offline maxrogers

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2009, 05:26:13 PM »
 ;D Alright! This is getting exciting!

I think that recreating a Costco pizza in 16" or 14" would be easier than going for the Costco standard 18". Dicepackage what do you think?

Sounds like it is time to pick up a perforated disk (probably the 16" from AM.)  :chef:

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2009, 06:19:30 PM »
maxrogers,

A point to keep in mind is that if you get an 18" disk, you can also make 14" and 16" pizzas using the same disk.

Peter

Offline maxrogers

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2009, 06:31:59 PM »
maxrogers,

A point to keep in mind is that if you get an 18" disk, you can also make 14" and 16" pizzas using the same disk.

Peter

Good point! Might as well!


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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2009, 06:36:18 PM »
Good point! Might as well!

Just be sure that the 18" will fit in your oven. In my oven, 18" is a snug fit. If your budget can handle it, you might also want to think about a pizza screen too, just in case the disk doesn't work as hoped in your oven.

Peter

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2009, 07:12:21 PM »
From this photo, it appears that at least one Costco's uses seasoned perforated disks rather than dark anodized perforated disks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hectoracuna/3046628755/.

Peter

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2009, 04:47:17 PM »
Today, for the first time ever, I tried a slice of pizza (pepperoni) from a Costco's in Danvers, Massachusetts. The slice, with 10 pepperoni slices, was one-sixth of a full 18" pizza and weighed 7.1 ounces. Assuming that all slices are roughly alike, that would translate into a baked weight for a full 18" pepperoni pizza of 42.6 ounces. I am sure, just from photos of Costco pepperoni pizzas that I have seen, that the number of pepperoni slices varies from one Costco pepperoni pizza to another. It would be impractical for workers to count and place roughly 60 pepperoni slices neatly and with even spacing on its pepperoni pizzas.

I was able to confirm from the gal who served me that that dough balls come from Lamonica's.

I was also told that the sauce is a Del Monte sauce and that the cheese comes from Foremost. When I got back to my computer, I searched for Del Monte pizza sauces and Foremost mozzarella cheeses. What I found is that Del Monte sells pizza sauce under its Del Monte Contadina brand (Contadina is owned by Del Monte). At the foodservice level, I found the following possibilities, at http://www.foodservicedirect.com/index.cfm/S/491/CLID/286/N/3426/Contadina-Deluxe-Pizza-Sauce.htm. For possible ingredients lists, see http://www.delmonte.com/foodservice/pdf/Tomato/ContadinaBrand/35677ContadinaBrandFullyPreparedPizzaSauce.pdf and http://www.delmonte.com/foodservice/pdf/Tomato/ContadinaBrand/35512ContadinaBrandFullyPreparedPizzaSauce-Bag.pdf. See, also, http://www.profileshowcase.com/Product/DEFAULT/000242/35677?PAGE=1&PRINT=Y.

At the retail level, I found this pizza sauce product, sold only under the Contadina brand: http://www.contadina.com/products/pizza-sauce-original.aspx . Note that this product is not the exact same product as the foodservice pizza sauces. I believe, for example, that the retail product uses modified corn starch as a thickener in lieu of the xanthan gum used as an emulsifier and stabilizer in the foodservice pizza sauces. Modified corn starch also does well in an acidic environment and allows a sauce to be glossy and retain its color.

For the Foremost mozzarella cheeses, I found several categories of mozzarella cheeses, at http://www.foremostfarms.com/Commercial/Cheese/Premium-Mozzarella.php. As best I can tell, Foremost, which is a dairy cooperative, does not sell at the retail level.

I also noticed that the perforated pizza disks used at this Costco were not dark, anodized disks, or even seasoned disks. They were pretty bare aluminum disks with little seasoning. The bottom of the crust, however, was a light brown color with signs of use of a fair amount of oil. It also appeared that the dough skin used to make the pizza was docked.

Peter

EDIT (7/28/14): For Wayback Machine versions of the above inoperative Del Monte links, see https://web.archive.org/web/20081125060756/http://www.delmonte.com/foodservice/pdf/Tomato/ContadinaBrand/35677ContadinaBrandFullyPreparedPizzaSauce.pdf and https://web.archive.org/web/20081125060840/http://www.delmonte.com/foodservice/pdf/Tomato/ContadinaBrand/35512ContadinaBrandFullyPreparedPizzaSauce-Bag.pdf

Offline Essen1

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2009, 06:23:17 PM »
Quote
At the retail level, I found this pizza sauce product, sold only under the Contadina brand: http://www.contadina.com/products/pizza-sauce-original.aspx.

Peter,

I have seen the Contadina brand at numerous Safeways here in California, in the cans as well as in the squeeze bottles. I have never tried it, though.
Mike

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2009, 02:37:48 PM »
Mike,

I did some more research and found more detailed ingredients listings for the Del Monte Contadina foodservice pizza sauces. I modified my last reply to incorporate the new information. As I noted in that reply, the retail pizza sauce is not exactly the same as the foodservice pizza sauces. However, I do think that it should be possible based on current information to come up with a clone Del Monte Contadina foodservice pizza sauce if someone deems that preferable to the Contadina retail product.

Peter

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2009, 06:13:19 PM »
Mike,

I did some more research and found more detailed ingredients listings for the Del Monte Contadina foodservice pizza sauces. I modified my last reply to incorporate the new information. As I noted in that reply, the retail pizza sauce is not exactly the same as the foodservice pizza sauces. However, I do think that it should be possible based on current information to come up with a clone Del Monte Contadina foodservice pizza sauce if someone deems that preferable to the Contadina retail product.

Peter

Peter,

Just for the fun of it, I'll try a can of Contadina sauce next week on one of my pies. But you're right about the ingredients. The commercial sauce seems to have less ingredients than the retail one. I assume it's to give pizza operators more room to add their own spice mixes.
Mike

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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #23 on: November 03, 2009, 01:55:16 PM »
It was earlier mentioned in Reply 11, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9121.msg79719.html#msg79719, that Costco uses a dough press in some locations to prepare its dough skins. From a Google search I recently conducted on this subject, a prospective Craigslist seller of a dough press indicated that the dough press was the same model as the one used by Costco. The model mentioned was the DoughPro DP1100, which is capable of forming skins up to 18" size, the size of Costco's pizzas. The DoughPro DP1100 dough press can be seen at http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/doughpro/dp1100/p361664.aspx and also in the spec sheet at http://img3.foodservicewarehouse.com/PDFs/DoughPro_DP1100.pdf. This model has a heatable top plate. According to Tom Lehmann (at http://pmq.com/mag/2002summer/doughformer.shtml), when a hot top plate is used, the formed skin must be placed on a tray or pan since the bottom is still raw and somewhat sticky. As reported earlier, Costco uses perforated disks.

In a home setting, the closest equivalent to using a dough press is to either 1) hand shape the skin out to 18", 2) roll the dough out to about two thirds of the final size using a rolling pin and stretch the skin the rest of the way out to 18" by hand, or 3) use a pizza mold such as shown in Reply 45 at  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2061.msg39550.html#msg39550 and, more recently, starting at Reply 6 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9410.msg81565.html#msg81565. One advantage of using a pizza mold is that it allows one to create a well defined rim, which is a characteristic of a skin formed in a dough press.

Peter




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Re: Making Costco Pizza Dough (Lamonica's)
« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2009, 08:58:30 PM »
Rather than dribbling around the backcourt on the Lamonica's Costco dough balls, I decided this afternoon to call Lamonica's to see if I could speak with someone about their dough balls and their use. I ended up being placed in touch with Roberto Martini, out of Lamonica's Los Angeles office. This resulted in a fairly lengthy and productive discussion with Roberto. To guide our discussion, I used the information on the Costco Lamonica dough balls that Marc (widespreadpizza) helpfully provided earlier in this thread. In fact, I used the Costco example to pretty much frame all of my questions.

From Roberto I learned that their Costco dough product is as simple and as basic as indicated in the ingredients list on the box for which Marc provided a photo. Unlike many of their competitors, they use no chemical additives or conditioners or anything else like that in their frozen dough balls (I was told that their basic dough formulation has not changed much over time). The "wheat" listed in the Lamonica's Costco's ingredients list turns out to be a modifier for the flour used in their dough, not a separate ingredient, such as vital wheat gluten that is commonly used in frozen doughs. The flour is a high gluten flour, and it is not bromated. When I asked the protein content, I was told that it is "13 point something" percent. Had I guessed, I would have said something between 13% and 14%, since it is very common to use higher protein flours for frozen doughs. Roberto did not know the precise amount of olive oil used in the dough, but its use is mainly for flavor. The yeast used in the Lamonica's dough is a dry yeast. When I asked if it was instant dry yeast, he said yes (although I suspect that the yeast may be a special freeze-tolerant strain). He also confirmed that the yeast levels are high to compensate for the destruction of some of the yeast during freezing. Since it was clear that Roberto did not know specific baker's percents, I did not probe further on those numbers.

We spoke for some time on the best way to use their dough balls, with emphasis on the duration of the slack out (defrost) time, and the window of use after the dough has defrosted. It is important to keep in mind that the numbers for flash frozen dough balls are not the same as for dough balls that are frozen in a static freezer environment, as might be done in a typical home freezer environment. However, for their dough balls, the recommended time for defrosting the dough balls is a day, and preferably two days in the cooler (to get more fermentation). From that point on, the recommended use is about one day at a recommended room temperature of 75 degrees F. That temperature is to promote sufficient proofing of the dough. Roberto acknowledged that if the room temperature is not as high as 75 degrees F, it is possible to temper the dough balls longer in order to compensate for the lower room temperature. Remember that the only fermentation that a frozen dough gets is during the slack-out time and during the temper time, so it is very helpful to stretch these times out as much as possible, but without overfermenting the dough, to yield more fermentation and better crust flavor. It is also possible to take a dough ball from the freezer and let it warm up at room temperature. This is a method that is often used by operators. As an example, Costco's might bring frozen dough balls to room temperature at around 8 AM and be ready to use at 11 AM, when they open up their food court for business. In its own test laboratories, Lamonica's has been able to keep defrosted dough balls in its coolers for up to 7 days without any problem. However, it recommends a window of three days for its customers. No doubt, over time customers have figured out the longer workable window of usability.

The lifespan of Lamonica's dough balls is six months at 0 degrees F. However, in its laboratories, it has held dough balls for over a year without any problems. By contrast, for a home static freezer environment, Tom Lehmann recommends 10 days, and possibly up to 15 days. Lamonica's recommends that users use their frozen dough balls within six months.

I was not able to get any pricing information. The reason is that Lamonica's does not sell directly to end users. It uses distributors and foodservice companies, who set the pricing to end users.

Roberto also confirmed that Costco's uses dough presses to shape out their skins, mainly since little training is required for their workers to operate the dough presses. The results are also more consistent and uniform using the dough presses compared with alternative methods (like hand stretching), especially for skins that are 18" in diameter.

In closing our conversation, I asked Roberto how big the Costco's pizza "business" is compared with the large chains. He said that Costco's has over 500 stores and that he was told by Costco that if they were a standalone pizza operation they would be one of the largest pizza operators in the country. He pointed out that most pizza chains don't get the traffic that Costco's gets. Also, Costco sells slices as well as whole pizzas, and the slice business is a big contributor to their "pizza" business.

Peter



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