Today more than ever, consumers chase the artisan experience in the taste and texture of foods. Pizza is no exception, and many foodies hold up the standard of the artisan pizza — the one with a crust that is prefermented and retarded overnight, then tossed by hand and baked in a wood-fired, stone-hearth oven.

Can a mass-produced pizza match that experience?

“Long fermentation is the secret to authentic artisan pizza,” said Stephen Bloom, vice-president, Allied Bakery Equipment Co. “You can produce such pizza in high volume, but you have to spend the money to buy time to ferment the dough — in other words, to install the prefermentation and proofing systems required.”

Eric Riggle, vice-president, Rademaker USA, Inc., confirmed the importance of these methods to creating pizza crust that gives an artisan-like eating experience. Prefermentation systems proof the dough prior to sheeting, and intermediate proofing systems configured for continuous sheet processing can be installed prior to cutting. “These systems result in a product that has excellent volume, open cell structure and a unique flavor,” he said.