Offering pizza in a retail bakery can help boost sales.

Pizza in US continues to reign supreme amongst consumers and grow in popularity year after year. In Google’s year-end search report for 2014, the search engine giant stated that “pizza was searched more than the World Cup.” According to Packaged Facts, each man, woman and child in America eats an average of 46 slices (23 pounds) of pizza a year. These facts help to make pizza a $30 billion per year industry.

Retail bakeries already have a foot in the door to the pizza business. Even a simple offering will provide a boost to profit margin relative to cost. To make a great pizza that customers will love and continue to buy, you must start with a great crust. Whether customers prefer thick or thin is something that will vary with each bakery and the area in which it operates.

Paul Bright, innovation manager at AB Mauri North America answered questions about pizza crusts for experienced bakers, as well as those who might want to get into the pizza business.

Do typical thin and thick crust pizza doughs differ in terms of ingredients?  If so, how do they differ?

Thin-style pizza crusts typically have lower absorption levels of water compared to thicker pizza crusts. Specially-formulated enzyme-based systems, such as our Fermentase WM 200 product, can help provide water management to thin doughs and ultimately improve the crispy characteristics of the finished crust. Additionally, thin crust formulations utilize chemical reducers like L-cysteine, high glutathione products like our label-friendly Natax 2.2 inactive dry yeast and other enzymes to improve sheeting and minimize shrink-back during the baking process.

On the other hand, thick-style pizza crusts utilize higher levels of yeast in order to increase dough volume, but feature a shorter processing and fermentation times compared to thin-crust counterparts.

For a retail bakery that hasn’t offered pizza previously but wants to start, what is a simple pizza crust formula that would work for them?

An excellent formulation consists of the following with 100 lbs. of flour as a base:  52-58 lbs. of water; 2 lbs. of salt; 1 lb. of sugar; 1 lb. of olive oil; and 1 lb. of active dry yeast. 

Note:  For a crispy, cracker-like crust, use bread flour; for a chewy crust, use a higher protein variety such as spring wheat flour.

Along those lines, what techniques and procedures would provide good results for new retailer entries into pizza?

The following procedures for the recipe above can produce fresh, hand-tossed, sheeted pizza dough:

  • Add water at 105-110°F to the mixing bowl
  • Add active dry yeast and allow to dissolve for five minutes
  • Blend flour, salt and sugar together and add to the mixing bowl
  • Add olive oil to the top of the dry ingredients
  • Mix until dough becomes dry in consistency and does not stick to the sides of the mixing bowl
  • When dough begins to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl, mix for an additional two minutes until dough is elastic in consistency
  • Remove dough from the mixer and scale dough balls to desired weight and roundness
  • In a warm area, allow covered dough balls to double in size before baking
  • If necessary, covered dough balls can be refrigerated overnight
  • Dough balls to be used the next day should not be allowed to double in size
  • Once removed from refrigerator, dough balls can warm at room temperature for at least one hour before sheeting and topping
  • Bake pizza dough to achieve an internal temperature of at least 180° F
  • Add sauce and toppings prior to and after baking, as necessary

What are some trends in pizza that retailers should be aware of?

Just as the greater trend in all food and beverage products, baking ingredients with more label-friendly appeal are growing in popularity.  Again, Natax 2.2 inactive dry yeast is regarded as a cleaner alternative to traditional baking ingredients such as L-cysteine and sodium metabisulfite.  Additionally, the use of specific enzymes can replace conventional emulsifiers like diacetyl tartaric and fatty acids esters of glycerol (DATEM) and sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL).

Specifically for pizza, healthier options such as reduced sodium offerings appeal to today’s consumer, as long as taste is not compromised. Also, whole grain and organic crust options, flavor varieties such as sourdough and stuffed crusts, continue to drive consumer appeal.

Gluten-Free Pizza

Pizza Hut teamed up with Udi's Gluten Free to offer a variety of gluten-free pizzas to its customers.

The gluten-free market is cementing its staying power as more than a mere dietary fad and continues to make national headlines, including a recent announcement by popular foodservice chain Pizza Hut that it will begin offering gluten-free pizza. In the retail sector, sales of gluten-free foods posted an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34 percent over the five-year period ended in 2014, when market sales reached $973 million, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts in the recently released report Gluten-Free Foods in the US, 5th Edition.

Pizza Hut, a Yum! Brands business unit, plans to offer gluten-free pizzas, available as cheese-only or pepperoni, starting Jan. 26 at select restaurants nationwide. Udi’s Gluten Free will provide the crust. The Gluten Intolerance Group, Auburn, Washington was instrumental in the in-store training process. Pricing for the 10-inch pizzas will start at $9.99.

“We partnered with the most-respected names in the gluten-free community to develop a best-in-class pizza for those looking to limit gluten in their diet,” says David Gibbs, global CEO for Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. “Our gluten-free pizza has all the flavor America has come to expect from a Pizza Hut pizza, which is why we are thrilled to add this great pizza to our lineup.”

The gluten-free crust will be kept in a designated gluten-free kit inside each restaurant, as will the cheese, marinara sauce and pepperoni. All Pizza Hut workers preparing the gluten-free pizzas will wear gloves, bake the pizza on parchment paper and use a designated gluten-free pizza cutter. The pizzas will be placed in pizza boxes featuring the Udi’s gluten-free crust for delivery.