The following information is provided
courtesy of The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association.
Understanding Pizza Equipment
represents huge business for caterers. It provides a focused
menu, fast throughput of customers, has global appeal and does
require the kind of kitchen staff training that a full service
restaurant needs. There is also a range of dedicated kitchen
equipment available which makes preparation and cooking of
pizzas consistent and quick.
There are three
types of mixers - planetary, spiral and vertical cutter mixers.
The spiral mixer has a large bowl and an agitator that looks
like a giant corkscrew. These are excellent for mixing dough,
but some do not have attachments for additional preparation work
such as sauce preparation, cheese grating or chopping vegetable
Vertical Cutter Mixers
These are high
speed mixers with agitator speeds at about 1700 rpm. The dough
mixing times for vertical cutters is between 75 to 120 seconds.
This is useful if you like to mix your dough fresh during the
day rather than a large batch done ahead of opening time. This
type of mixer can also be used to grate cheese, but is not
recommended for sauces because they can pulverise items such as
chunky tomato sauce.
mixer consists of a large bowl for ingredients and a dough hook
agitator that stirs the dough. There is also usually an
attachment point for driving a grater or vegetable preparation
equipment. The planetary action causes the agitator to move in a
figure-eight motion, allowing the dough to uniformly mix.
Rolling and forming
outlets can weigh out a doughball and roll with a wooden pin
doing work and turn to fit the baking dish or required diameter.
Hand-tossing is wonderful cooking theatre, but requires great
skill by the pizza chef.
presses gives a uniform shape and thickness. There are three
types of mechanical pizza press, the sheet roller, the cold
press and the hot press. The sheet roller is a type of pastry
roller, through which dough is fed to produce a large flat
sheet. A hand cutter is then used to cut out the required
diameter of pizza dough and the leftover dough goes back into
the roller. This is for very high volumes of fresh pizza.
A cold dough
press has a portion of dough placed on a baking dish and the
dough is pressed to shape. Cold pressing gives a very uniform
crumb structure, more like a bread than a crispy thin pizza. Hot
pressing forms a skin on the pizza dough, which can allow for a
rising up of the edges (deep-pan) and give a more crispy
finished base after cooking than cold pressing does.
Refrigerated preparation tables
essential for any busy pizza operation. They combine three
things for speed and food safety. There is a flat surface for
working, usually in stainless steel but can be in granite or
Corian, which is an acrylic polymer which has many of the
features of granite. At the back of the work surface should be
pick-bins, which will contain all the ready-prepared toppings
such as onion, tomato base, olives, ham, etc, and all within
reach for the pizza maker. Below the preparation surface will be
refrigerated drawers for items that need keeping under
refrigeration, such as extra cheeses, speciality ham, tuna,
prawns, etc, as well as dough balls for rolling out. Most pizza
preparation units are standard zero-plus refrigeration, but it
is possible to get them with both freezer and refrigerated
The way the
pizza is cooked is as important to the finished quality of the
pizza as is the dough. There are traditional stone ovens and
high-speed ovens – the choice is as much about the volumes
needed as the style of pizza offering and restaurant ambience.
The fastest type of pizza oven is the conveyor oven, either
radiated heat or forced hot air (impinger ovens), both of which
are covered in the fast food cooking systems section of this
guide. These are the fastest ways to cook pizzas from scratch,
but they may not deliver the final taste, appearance and
restaurant atmosphere the high end of pizza restaurants want.
There are two
speciality pizza ovens, the deck oven and the traditional stone
Traditional stone ovens
ovens are wonderful theatre reminiscent of old Naples and
produce a pizza with a great taste and crispness, but require
more effort and experience by the operator. They can come as
wood-fired, gas or electric ovens.
The taste varies
from pizzas cooked in conveyors because the pizza is placed
directly on the cooking surface and bakes the bottom crust
differently. Another difference in the crust is that the bottom
is usually coated with flour or cornmeal to prevent the pizza
from sticking to the surface, which adds a different texture,
appearance and taste.
surfaces have several advantages. Because pizza is best cooked
from the bottom up to get a crispy crust and cook toppings,
stone works well. Stone holds heat on the surface better than
metal, so less heat is lost in cooking. Another advantage to
stone is that it absorbs oils and moisture that is released from
pizzas making them dryer. These ovens can be used for much more
than pizza, such as toasting the surface of a lasagne, making
garlic bread or cooking meat and fish in a cooking dish.
Pizzas cooked in
wood-fired ovens look and can taste different and are generally
darker in colour than those cooked in other styles of ovens.
Partly because they absorb some of the smoke, depending on the
type of wood used, and the bottom crusts tend to be a little
crispier because of the intense heat of the cooking stone.
multi-level conventional-style ovens each with their own door.
There may be as few as two decks or as many as five or even
more. This allows many pizzas to be cooked in the one unit with
different start and finish times. Because they are for pizza
production, each oven is quite shallow. The base is usually
stone or ceramic tile, so the effect on the finished pizza is
similar to the traditional. They are controlled in the same way
as a conventional oven and have a door to keep the heat in.