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Forming Pizza Dough Balls

Forming Pizza Dough Balls

Pizzerias go through a lot of dough in a day. This dough starts out as a large 50 to 60 pound blob that is cut and formed into smaller dough balls. The dough balls can be formed either by hand or by machine, depending on the pizza shop’s output. Large scale pizzerias will most likely use a machine, because it is faster, but small shops or those that want to advertise handmade dough will want to form the dough balls by hand.

Weigh the Dough Balls
Rather than eyeballing the size of the dough balls, professional pizzerias weigh each dough ball to make sure they are all the same size. The weight of the dough ball will determine both the size and the thickness of your final pizza crust. The following table was made using Lehmann’s Online Dough Calculator, and it highlights some specific dough weights and the pizzas they are used to make:

  Thickness Factor  10" Diameter  12" Diameter  14" Diameter  16" Diameter  18" Diameter 
 Cracker Thin Crust  0.05  3.93 oz  5.65 oz  7.7 oz  10.05 oz  12.72 oz
 Thin Crust   0.1  7.85 oz  11.31 oz  15.39 oz  20.11 oz  25.45 oz
 Medium Crust  0.11  8.64 oz  12.44 oz  16.93 oz  22.12 oz  27.99 oz
 Thick Crust  0.13  10.21 oz  14.7 oz  20.01 oz  26.14 oz  33.08 oz

Forming the Dough Balls by Hand
To form dough balls by hand requires a dough cutter, a restaurant scale and time. The dough is cut and weighed by one or several employees and hand shaped into a ball. This method is ideal for low-volume establishments that have a lot of downtime to dedicate to manually cutting and weighing the dough. Described below are the two basic methods for forming pizza dough balls by hand.Pizza dough balls being placed on a sheet pan

Forming the Dough Balls by Machine
As with many manufacturing processes, machines have been invented to perform the task of making dough balls with greater accuracy and speed than humans are capable of. For high volume pizzerias that make their own dough, there are dough dividers that can portion and roll several dough balls at once. Using this method, the undivided dough blob is either dumped into a hopper or spread out on a plate with several holes.  

Dividers that use a hopper will force the dough out a tube, much like Play-Doh, and cut it to equal sizes. The dough then falls into a spiral tube that rounds it. The other type of machine will shake and vibrate the plate, cutting the dough and forcing equal portions into the round holes for equal sized, perfectly round dough balls.