Top Form

Every pizzeria wants its customers to feel as though each pie was hand tossed and created especially for them. And many pizza lovers get a thrill from watching dough tossed and spun through the air. But that can be an impractical method for pizzerias with high-volume production levels. Thankfully, during the last several decades, manufacturers have created several types of machines to speed up the forming process without compromising quality. As a result, three basic methods of dough forming exist (in addition to hand tossing): sheeting/rolling, hot press and cold press. Whether you’re an independent pizzeria owner, franchisee or chain operator, a sound forming method is important for customer satisfaction and your bottom line. Consider the benefits of each method to choose the right fit for your pizzeria.

Technology at Work
Rollers and sheeters form dough into a long, continuous ribbon, which is then cut and formed with die cutters. Many manufacturers use the term rollers and sheeters synonomously, but some manufacturers, such as Somerset, distinguish rollers and sheeters by the amount of times the dough moves through the flattening process: While some sheeters form the dough in a single pass, most rollers feature a double-pass process. During the first pass, the dough moves through a set of synthetic- or metallic-plated rollers, forming it into an oblong shape; then the operator turns the dough 90° and feeds it through a finishing setting, which forms it into a skin for baking.

Sheeters typically produce a thin crust, but some models feature a lever that can adjust the dough to a specific thickness or density. Some sheeters even have special attachments to roll the dough into a round skin. According to some manufacturers, sheeters and rollers are also an efficient way to simulate hand forming. “If pizzeria operators want to keep their dough as close as possible to hand process, then rolling dough with a dough roller is often the best option for them,” says Tony Marino, director of marketing for Dutchess Bakers Machinery Company in Superior, Wisconsin.

One of the most appealing features of rollers and sheeters is their ability to produce mass quantities with extreme efficiency, making them essential in the wholesale and frozen markets. However, many manufacturers offer sheeters and rollers in various sizes to accommodate individual pizzerias. They can help pizzerias drastically save on employee costs and time spent prepping dough. Some sheeters can even cut down 75 percent of the workload, says Robert Drennan, national sales, marketing and public relations director for Thunderbird Food Machinery in Dallas. “Some pizzerias hire someone specifically to roll, knead and flatten the dough for the next day,” Drennan says. “But why do that when you can make fresher dough to use the same day in just one hour?”

To learn more, check out the May issue.