Technique and ingredients play a key role in getting to a desired pizza outcome. Paying attention to small details of the pizza making will result in producing amazing quality pizzas, whether thin and crispy or thick, bready pan styles.

Paul Bright, senior innovation manager for AB Mauri North America, specifies that they recommend that pizza makers use a thermometer every day to measure temperatures of dough water, final mixed pizza dough and proofing product to ensure the same quality.

“For example, it is very difficult to have the same eating pizza crust if one day the pizza maker uses 50°F dough water and 100°F dough water the next. When flour mixing properties including mix times change or yeast fermentation or activity levels vary, the result may be tough pizza crusts and doughs that are difficult to stretch out (under fermented), too sticky and wet, or stretch out too easily (over fermented),” he explains.

“Consistency in processing will also result in consistently amazing, finished pizzas.”

It has been stated that if flour is the backbone to a pizza crust, then yeast is the soul. What the saying fundamentally means is that you can see what the flour does for a pizza but what yeast brings to the formulation is essentially invisible, Bright points out. Yeast is a critical ingredient in formulations as it provides the unique, desirable flavor as well as the leavening that results in a great eating pizza crust.

Pizza makers, he explains, can use both instant dry yeast like Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise as well as active dry yeast interchangeably in a formulation; however, they must remember that instant product should be dry blended into the flour before addition of water. Also, Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast should be dissolved in a portion of the dough water at a temperature of 100-110°F for five minutes prior to addition to the mixing bowl in order to obtain optimal performance.

As a rule of thumb, for every 1°F change in temperature can result in a 3% change in yeast activity, Bright explains. Therefore, if the pizza maker changes water temperature from 80°F to 60°F this can decrease initial yeast activity by ~60%.

In-house controls

Whatever dough production method is used, pizza makers need to follow their own in-house controls. Dave Krishock, bakery technical support manager, Grain Craft, specifies that if the mixing standards state Final Dough Temperature (FDT) out of the mixer should be 76-80 degrees, then make sure there is a procedure is in place to achieve that temperature range consistently.

“Doughs that come out of the mixer colder/warmer than the desired FDT, will perform differently,” he explains. “Why? Because the dough is alive!”

Besides selecting the correct flour for a specific, desired crust type, Krishock finds many pizza makers are confused by type of yeast to use and how to handle it properly. Just like flour, yeast manufacturers have a variety of yeast types for the different dough processing methods. 

“Ratio of yeast in the dough formulas can be adjusted to meet the production needs of the pizza maker and not the other way around,” he shares.

Signature crust

Tom Santos, field sales rep at General Mills Foodservice and part of an esteemed team of dedicated flour experts known as the Doughminators™, explains that the foundation of any great pizza is a signature crust, which starts with identifying the right flour for the desired style of pizza crust and then making sure all ingredients are scaled properly and water temperature is correct.

“The best ingredients cannot overcome a poorly made dough,” he says.

Chef Tim Trainor, a member of the Chefs of the Mills—specialized culinary professionals at General Mills Foodservice, points out that the foundation is all about a high-quality flour and staying true to the type of flour for your pizza offering.

Santos explains the process starts with using high-quality flour. Using the proper flour for the desired dough or pizza crust style is very important.

“As Doughminators, we spend a lot of time consulting with customers about what types of flours work best for the style of pizza they want to offer their customers. Aside from flour, it’s important to make sure that the yeast (active dry, fresh or instant) is stored properly and not out-of-date,” he says.

In regard to technique, handling is also key to ensure consistency. This includes proper scaling of flour, using the correct temperature for the water and not overmixing.

Next, the process of fermentation, which is where the flavor comes in, is another important step. A great dough ferments slowly and brings out the best flavor.

A tip, once the dough is made and ready to go in the cooler make sure it is located in the rear where the temperature is likely to be more consistent.

“Keep it simple. Flour, water, yeast and salt. Sugar for some color and sweetness to the finished dough,” Trainor emphasizes. “That’s it! Always manage your dough temperature based on your starting flour temperature, water temperature and mix time (friction factor) to achieve the most consistent dough for your system. Guessing is not an option and overmixing is not an option.”

Equipment features

On the equipment front, VEMAG from Reiser gives bakeries and pizza shops freedom in production. VEMAG’s flexible, modular range of machines allows you to extend your product portfolio whenever you want to: from white bread to pizza doughs.

At the heart of the dough portioners are VEMAG double screws. No other conveying technology is as flexible when it comes to adapting to your product. Lots of options in terms of gradient, diameter, length, profile, different pore patterns and much more all mean one thing: your product is perfect. Perfection in precise weights, fluid mixtures and pizza doughs – specialist or compromise, or both? Every cleaning process enables the double screw to be changed quickly. You might want to change the product quickly, or service parts. The conveying system consists of just two parts: the casing and the double screw.

The VEMAG technology enables you to use components such as double screw parts that are made entirely out of stainless steel. This makes it more durable, and also improves hygiene levels.

A major benefit of VEMAG double screw technology, one which protects your products, is the first-in-first-out principle: The double screw conveys the first product that arrives, to the outlet first. This eliminates unhygienic dough residue that might remain inside the machine and does so despite using little oil.

New product innovation

Megan Pettit, food machines marketing specialist, Hobart Food Equipment Group, explains that it is important that a bakery’s equipment gives them the flexibility to try new things and perfect them.

Hobart is offering VFDadvantage variable frequency drive technology on the new Legacy+® mixers it is releasing this summer. The technology gives bakers the ability to jog and pulse to get that “just right” finish to doughs and batters.

Another great feature on these mixers is the SmartTimer™. This timer was built for recipe creation. It allows the operator to count up, when building a new recipe to determine how long it needs to be mixed, and count down, for existing recipes since they know the appropriate mixing time. Additionally, this timer remembers the last time set for each speed of the mixer, so it’s perfect when mixing multiple batches.

“Beyond that, it is important that equipment can keep up with product innovation,” Petit explains. “It may be appealing to purchase equipment that is lower in price, but this may not be a great idea in the long run. While a piece of equipment may be higher in price initially, oftentimes it will have more features that help with product innovation and will last longer.”

The Legacy+® HL662 Pizza Dough Mixer is designed to meet the needs of even the most demanding operation. This industrial dough mixer’s two fixed speeds deliver the consistency you’re looking for to thoroughly knead heavy dough. Hobart's Legacy+ mixers are equipped with the exclusive PLUS system, a powerful combination of three industry-leading technologies that give you more. The PLUS system includes the VFDadvantage, Maximum Capacity Overheat Protection and Reinforced Planetary Shaft. The VFDadvantage variable frequency drive provides the high torque, low RPM speed needed to mix great pizza dough all day long.

Do it all on one machine by using attachments to shred cheese, slice vegetables and pizza toppings The SmartTimer™ feature with automatic time recall and the Shift-on-the-Fly™ controls make it even easier to create the best pie.

Hobart, the premium commercial food equipment manufacturer known for designing and building some of the most reliable, must-have equipment, is maintaining tradition this year at the International Pizza Expo. During the show in Las Vegas, Aug. 17-19, Hobart will once again be giving away a custom-designed Legacy® HL662 Pizza Mixer (valued at $20,000).

This year’s custom design pays homage to the speed and power of the Legacy HL662 Pizza Mixer — a maximum heavy-duty 60-quart machine designed to deliver consistency for demanding dough production. Hobart will unveil the one-of-a-kind mixer at booth #353 on the first day of the expo.

In addition to a 2.7 horsepower motor and exclusive Variable Frequency Drive technology that can handle the heaviest dough loads, the Legacy HL662 mixer features Shift-on-the-Fly™ and patented Soft Start technologies. Shift-on-the-Fly helps improve productivity by allowing speed changes during operation, while the Soft Start reduces the chance of product splash-out when the mixer is turned on. It slowly transitions to a higher speed. 

Those interested in entering the giveaway can submit a completed sweepstakes entry card at the Hobart booth #353, beginning at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 17. Cards are available at the booth and also in the gift bags provided when entering the show. The completed card must be submitted by 11 a.m. PST on Thursday, Aug. 19 to be valid to win. Only one entry per attendee is allowed.

The winner will be randomly selected from the entries on Thursday, Aug. 19 at approximately 12:30 p.m. PST at the International Pizza Challenge Area and the attendee must be present to win.

Water options

Owner and founder Richard Riccio of Riccio’s Pizza in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ turned to the New York WaterMaker system because he wanted to create the crunchy, thin crust associated with New York pizza.  

"The water makes all the difference in the world," Riccio's owner and founder Richard Riccio said. "There is a major difference between New York water and New Jersey water."