The peril of the shrinking pizza

by Frank Schuhmann, application specialist

When a 12-inch pizza turns out to be a 10-inch, your reputation is at risk. We take the shrinkage issue into the lab.

Search ‘pizza shrinkage’ on Google, and you’ll see that size matters to many consumers. If the pizza fails to fill the box, brand reputations are likely to receive a bashing.

The problem for industrial manufacturers is that shrinkage is hard to control on automated lines. Whether cutting or stamping out a circular base, the dough will tend to contract and become oval in shape.

Wheat gluten is the culprit. While its network-forming capability provides the necessary elasticity when dough is rolled out, it is that very same elastic property which causes the base to shrink after shaping.

At Nutrition & Biosciences, we often turn to our portfolio of bakery enzymes when investigating solutions to challenges in bread. So this was a good place to start tracking down a solution for pizza.

The matter of rework

An important consideration before making use of enzymes in pizza dough is the matter of rework. When pizza bases are cut out of a dough sheet, a high dough volume is returned to the beginning of the line, where it is reintroduced. If the enzyme acts on gluten – as is the case with the commonly used enzyme protease, for example – then the increasing enzyme concentration in reworked dough will result in excessive action on gluten. This means the desirable gluten functionality will eventually be lost.

Through our previous research to reduce the stickiness of dough on industrial bread lines, we know that cellulase improves dough handling properties through its action on cellulose and arabinoxylan, both components of plant cell walls. As such, the gluten network is untouched.

From elastic to expandable 

We decided to try cellulase out in pizza dough and were pleased to see a positive effect. While the dough was still easy to roll out and cut into shape, it kept its diameter during the rest of processing. In other words, the gluten contributes expandability rather than elasticity.

This solves the shrinkage problem without risk of an enzyme overdose when reworking dough scraps. Consumers get what they pay for, and brand reputations are safe and secure.

We tested POWERBake® 9000 from the DuPont™ Danisco® range.

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