Picture your perfect pizza. Maybe you have a sense of adventure and load your pie with pineapple, bacon, and jalapeno. Perhaps you enjoy the classics like pepperoni or sausage. A quality dough mixer is the heart of any pizzeria and will be vital to creating fresh dough. As such, you will need to apply critical thinking and strategy when making your purchase decision for a pizza dough mixer.
Spiral or Planetary
Two types of mixers used to make dough are spiral and planetary. Either type will make dough; however, each has its advantages.
Spiral mixers are typically designed for dough applications only. Because they consist of a spiral-shaped agitator that remains stationary while the bowl revolves around it, they mix or knead, only a portion of the dough at one time, gently developing the gluten structure without overworking the dough. Because less friction is created, the temperature of the dough remains lower versus a planetary mixer where the dough hook is constantly in contact with the dough. If you are purchasing high-quality flour, you may want to consider a spiral mixer over a planetary mixer.
Planetary mixers are more versatile and allow you to mix other products, while a spiral mixer is designed for dough only. Planetary mixers feature an agitator that turns on an offset shaft while the mixing bowl remains stationary. Multiple mixing attachments, including flat beaters, wire whips, and dough hooks, also make the mixer versatile. Will you be mixing your own pizza sauce, salad dressing or other recipes? What about vegetable processing? A planetary mixer typically has an attachment hub which accommodates vegetable slicing, cheese grating, and meat grinding.
Determining the Size of the Mixer
As with other pieces of equipment in the kitchen, determining the capacity of the mixer is important. What is the biggest batch you need to make? Will you be doing small batches daily or larger batches less frequently? Fresh and frozen storage capacity – how much storage – will also play a big factor in determining the size of mixer needed, along with labor scheduling. For example, pizza dough can be mixed in large batches weekly and stored versus making fresh daily.
The biggest factors in determining the size of mixer needed are the type of dough (thin crust, hand tossed, deep dish) and the batch size. The type of crust depends on the moisture content of the dough. What is the moisture content (also known as the absorption ratio) of the dough? Absorption ratio percentage is determined by taking the recipe’s water weight divided by the flour weight. The easiest example is a 50 lb. bag of flour mixed with 3 gallons of water. Water weighs 8.33 lbs. per gallon, so the water weight of this recipe is 24.99 lbs. Rounding up to 25 lbs. makes the math simpler. 25 divided by 50 equals .50, so the dough has a 50% absorption ratio and the total batch size is 75 lbs. (25 lbs. of water + 50 lbs. of dough).
Looking at the capacity chart published by the manufacturer, an operator can quickly determine the correct size of the mixer for a recipe based on the absorption ratio and the total batch size.
For the example above, Globe’s recommended mixer is the SP62P. Typically, the lower the AR, the less amount of dough (batch size) can be made for each batch of the recipe.
Purchasing a Planetary – What to consider with regards to features and options.
If you are purchasing a planetary mixer, there are several other things to consider with regards to features and options. Let’s start at the top.
What type of controls and timer are being used and where are they? There are mixers with digital timers or mechanical timers, and mixers with no timers. There are mixers with the timer and controls on the front of the mixer and others who have them on the side. One advantage to having the timer and controls on the front of the mixer is the ability to see how much time is left on a batch from across the kitchen versus those with the timer on the side. Digital timers are more accurate than mechanical timers, providing consistent batch results of the same recipe.
What type of transmission does the mixer have? Gears, belts or electronic speed control (variable speed motor)? All three have pros and cons. Generally, gears are preferred when mixing dough to provide torque under a heavy dough load.
Does the mixer have an attachment hub that will increase its versatility? Attachments like adjustable slicing plates for vegetable prep, or shredder and grater plates for cheeses, lettuce, and cabbage or a meat grinder for burgers, sausage, meatballs or meatloaf.
What type of bowl guard is on the mixer? Is it removable? Does it have a built-in chute to add ingredients, like oil or seasoning, during the batch without stopping the mixer?
Does the mixer have bowl clamps to secure the bowl to the yoke? Are they spring tensioned to securely hold the bowl in place or does it just sit on a pin allowing the bowl to rattle during operation?
Does the bowl swing out, requiring a bigger footprint? This is an important consideration when kitchen floor space is crucial.
Does the mixer have a manual or a power bowl lift? There are pros and cons to both. A power lift allows the bowl to be raised or lowered easily; however, they add cost as a secondary motor is required.
Do you need a bowl truck? Bowl trucks allow the operator to maneuver the bowl around the kitchen on a dolly. Does the bowl dolly have ergonomic handles that assist in steering the dolly and the bowl without the operator bending over? Does the bowl truck come standard with the mixer or is it an additional accessory that adds to the cost?
The Life-Cycle Cost – What you need to know about the Design of the Mixer, Warranty, and Parts
With either type of mixer, the life cycle cost is an important consideration. Finding out the purchase price of the mixer is easy. What is more important is the life-cycle cost. How long is the warranty? One-year or two years? If something does go wrong after the warranty is over, how much will it cost to repair the mixer? Looking at replacement parts pricing before purchasing a mixer can save you a lot of money after you purchase it. If the controller goes bad, how much will it cost to replace it? Where can you purchase those parts? Who will service the mixer under warranty? Can you use your own servicer or does the manufacturer dictate who will service it?
The picture of your perfect pizza, the one with bacon, pineapple and jalapenos can be made much better with the right mixer for your operation. From a 5 qt. countertop planetary mixer to a 175 lb. spiral dough mixer, Globe has a mixer for your application. Click here for more information on Globe floor mixers, and here for countertop mixers.
Hope has been a Content Specialist since November 2015, where she brings to the table years of experience in the food service industry in a variety of roles. Throughout her time with Central, Hope has focused on learning all things possible about everything from cooking equipment to concession and specialty products in order to empower operators with education on commercial equipment and supplies. Hope is a wife, new mom, avid crafter, and food lover (french fries please!).