Creating a hearth-baked pizza without the hearth

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You want to create a hearth-baked pizza, but your restaurant or foodservice operation doesn’t have the space for a hearth-baked oven. We feel your pain. Nothing quite beats the taste of a pizza crust that you get with a hearth oven.

But what if you could replicate a hearth-baked oven in a traditional conveyor oven? What would it take to get the random holes, slight charring and crispy crust of a hearth-baked pizza?

It’s a challenge our food solutions experts took on, and a challenge we have successfully overcome. The answer: an innovative baking pan and some slight dough recipe adjustments.

Our team worked with Tom Lehman, formerly of the American Institute of Baking, to develop the Hearth Bake Disk, a unique pizza disk design that makes it possible for pizzas baked in a modern conveyor oven to emerge with the special crispness and golden, mottled crust appearance associated with hearth oven baked pizzas.

“The size for the holes in the Hearth Bake Disks are large enough to allow for some slight blistering and charring of the dough during baking, and the edge of the pan is designed without holes to protect the edge from excessive heat and airflow, which results in the formation of a ‘pizza bone’ (the hard, almost inedible edge crust of an over baked pizza),” Lehman said.

The coating is the key

Another key to the baking performance of the Hearth Bake Disks are a proprietary Pre-Seasoned Tuff-Kote (PSTK) finish that conveys heat evenly for consistent and quality crusts. As an added bonus, the PSTK finish eliminates the need for seasoning the pan.

With the perfectly designed pan, our team next moved onto the challenge of making the necessary modifications to the dough formula and baking parameters. Our first challenge was making sure we weren’t overbrowning the crust, as we knew a hot oven was optimal to impart the crust characteristics of a hearth-baked pizza.

To prevent over-browning, we reformulated our pizza crusts to remove almost all of the sugar. This worked and we started testing baking with multiple times and temperatures. We found the optimal bake on the Hearth Bake Disks on a 25-oz. pizza was 500°F for almost six minutes. We also discovered that it was important to lower the top heating temperatures

When combined with a dough formulation made without any sugar, or with a very low amount of sugar, the baking temperature in the air impingement ovens can be increased to as high as 500 F to get a true hearth-baked characteristic, which includes both the visuals and the flavor characteristics resulting from those charred spots on the bottom of the crust.

Granted, oven-type and dough recipe will cause variations on final baking temperature and time, but the above guide should serve as a general starting point to achieve the perfect hearth-baked crust without a hearth oven.

Learn all about our Hearth Bake Disks, including pricing and size configurations.

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