Bread and pizza continue to enjoy strong demand, as consumers look to traditional favorites and authenticity in their diets.

For bakeries, there is clear evidence that the bakery equipment sector continues to rise to the occasion with new innovations that make it more efficient to produce flavorful breads and pizzas.

John McIsaac, vice president of strategic business development for Reiser, Canton, Mass., points out that innovation continues to drive growth in the bakery sector and rapidly growing categories such as pizza.

“Our Vemag 500 with our new Reiser V2 high-speed servo cutter for pizza dough -- this servo driven portioning system allows our smaller customers to increase their production rates with our Vemag 500 series,” he explains. “The servo drive eliminates pneumatics and improves on our benchmark scaling accuracy. Plug it in and produce.”

The labor savings are profound, according to Reiser. The Reiser V2 is usually sold with a barrel rounder. Dividing and rounding at a 100 pieces per minute can be done with no hands.

The Reiser V2 makes 100 cuts per minute, at weights from 4 to 27 ounces. It features high speed, no pneumatics, is quiet and dependable, and easy to run and clean.

Pizza innovations

“Our surveys show that 94% of Americans enjoy pizza and consume it regularly. Translation: Pizza is a communal food with near universal appeal in the United States,” points out Jeremy White, content director and editor-in-chief for Pizza Expo. “Because it is easy to find no matter where you’re located, inexpensive as compared to other foods and holds up well after being transported, pizza was uniquely positioned to thrive during the pandemic.”

Equipment innovations are enhancing the product quality and production efficiencies across the board.

Since 1946, Somerset Industries has been designing and manufacturing professional grade bakery equipment for the foodservice industry.

The CDR-2500 is Somerset Industries’ most advanced, all-in-front, compact dough roller, and although it is ideal for rolling pizza crust dough, Somerset designed it to perform well using a wide range of different types of dough.

This equipment is the largest double-pass roller in the pizza world, according to Somerset, making dough up to 25 inches (64cm) in diameter within seconds. It is ideal for pizza, as well as flour tortillas, sheeting, cinnamon rolls, pita bread, pie crusts, cookies, calzones, and sweet doughs.

This machines sheets 500-600 pieces per hour and features heavy gauge stainless steel construction for years of dependable performance. Synthetic, non-stick rollers are standard.

Spring-loaded scrapers can be quickly and easily removed for cleaning. The compact design means it will fit anywhere, and the large hopper accommodates large pieces of dough. There are safety sensors for automatic shutoff.

In other equipment features, the Somerset CDR-500 is an ideal dough sheeter for pizzerias, donut shops, bakeries, schools, hospitals, or any foodservice operation that needs high-volume, dependable performance. The CDR-500 sheets virtually every type of dough, regardless of consistency, to a uniform thickness in seconds.

Features of the Somerset CDR-500 include heavy-duty stainless steel construction, with simple handle adjustments for exact, uniform dough thickness.

This machine is perfect for cinnamon rolls, pizza, pie crusts, Danishes, yeast-raised donuts, dough lamination, pasta production, and fondant.

Artisan breads and rolls

According to WP Bakery Group, without proper training, operators cannot effectively support the equipment with proper sanitation and maintenance as well as operation. High-speed lines leave little room for error, and that includes human error. While operators may not be making adjustments manually, they will be supervising production flow and need to know how to spot problems.

“This operator must be well-trained and know exactly how to rectify issues should they occur,” Patricia Kennedy, president, WP Bakery Group, told Baking & Snack, a sister publication to Bake. “This is quite challenging for the operator as any issues that occur need to be dealt with very quickly.”

An online demonstration by WP Bakery Group provided an in-depth understanding of soft, Mediterranean doughs, which stand for breads and rolls with a natural aroma, an open crumb structure and good freshness.

Crunchy crust is something a traditional baguette should have, along with a coarse crumb. An open crumb structure is the most important attribute of all Mediterranean bread rolls and breads.

The typical flavor of all artisan rolls and breads develops through the long dough fermentation and a big part of sponge dough.

“Our machines and production lines for artisan and semi-industrial production of dough pieces are designed to deliver highest flexibility to cater for the demands of producing a wide range of products,” WP Bakery Group reports. “Our proprietary PANE line manages a full product range with fabulous variety. Even the softest doughs are gently processed into dough strips before being divided and further processed. Our top priority is a gentle processing of the dough to maintain the open crumb structure.”

For the automatic production of dough sheets, they rely on integrated dough strip formers. Short distances facilitate the handling of particularly soft doughs. The doughs run through S-shaped set of rollers from top to bottom and thus make use of gravity.

Different roll lines are often necessary to produce various rolls. For the production of soft, artisan breads, classic bread lines can often not be used.

‘It is good that our PANE line is a slit roll line, a bread dough divider and a dough strip line for round and square rolls,” WP Bakery Group reports. “Systems with different degrees of automation and hourly output offer the right solution for artisanal and industrial bakeries. Our box tipper facilitates dough sheet production. The modular design of the system allows to customize the roll lines individually to your wishes.”

For processing doughs with long resting times and high dough absorption, WP Bakery Group developed the PANE. Artisan, square rolls can be produced as well as round rolls, baguette, not to mention wheat soft dough breads and other special rolls. The modular design of the PANE enables to adjust the line to market changes.

Dough strips are processed extremely gently in the patented S-shaped set of rollers, the open pore structure is preserved.

Specialty bread

In America, when you say Vollkorn bread, people think of heavy German rye bread. They don’t think of spelt, rye or wheat. But it can be any of these, according to Nicky Giusto of Logan, Utah-based Central Milling and the Bread Bakers Guild of America’s Baking Team USA 2016.

Spelt was the grain of choice for Giusto in his version of Vollkorn Dinkelbrot (the formula is available on the BBGA website). 

“Most Vollkorn bread is like a dense bread, a brick you could build a house with,” Giusto said with a smile. “I put together a version that kind of looks like a wheel of cheese – a very cool-looking triangle. A while ago, Andy Clark and I were talking in a parking lot about ambient fermentation and how to develop an awesome bread without the use of refrigeration.” 

Central Milling produces Zorba spelt; Giusto presented a little of its ancient-grain history. “Einkorn is spelt’s grandfather. Emmer and einkorn crossed to make spelt,” he explained. “Spelt is a wheat, but it has a hull around it, so it requires extra processing. That is why einkorn, spelt and emmer are a little more expensive. There’s an extra step that has to take place before milling.” 

“Spelt is actually higher in vitamins and amino acids than other ancient grains, which promotes the maintenance of muscle,” he added. “Eating spelt will maintain the health of your muscles. Today, I’m using 100% whole spelt.” 

For the soaker, which was prepared the night before, he mixed spelt, buttermilk, cultured butter, confectionery-grade pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and water. The ingredients were all at room temperature. “The (fermentation) goes for 12 to 16 hours on this soaker. But if you’re going to let it go for 16 hours, you might want to use cooler water.” 

The buttermilk is pasteurized, so Giusto thinks that “most of the inoculation is coming from the spelt itself. I want the spelt berry to be hydrated naturally. It does the work for you.” 

By the next morning, the soaker had lots of bubbles and had increased in size by about a third. 

“The power of fermentation is strong in this one,” he said. “The sunflower seeds are dancing with the pumpkin seeds. All this activity is pretty cool.” 

Next, salt was added, dissolved in water so it could move around the dough. “Watch this turn into a real strong dough. Water is a highway. The more highways you have, the faster the yeast is going to travel around your network. I put yeast in the second stage because it’s quick to action – just enough yeast (0.3% instant yeast) to give me some volume to blast out of the pan.” 

Spelt requires a very short incorporation time, so Giusto mixed this stage by hand. “Look at it come together with just a few rotations. After an hour, you have a wet, soupy mixture. I cut this wet, with no flour. For the third step, this is your chance.” 

Giusto demonstrated the flip-and-flop technique (smack down, stretch, and flop) to build dough strength. “The stretching and folding are developing strength in a very short time with a minimal amount of movement.” 

The final proof was 1 hour and, as the dough proofed, a lot of bubbles developed. “Then you know it’s time to go,” Giusto said. “I bake these in a falling oven, starting at 500°F and dropping down to 440°F or 450°F. This bread needs to be in a fairly hot oven for a significant amount of time (45 minutes to an hour). Ideally, you want to bake in a falling oven. That gives you awesome caramelization on top. Vollkorn-style breads taste better with some time. The flavors become more intense.”