Evelyne Slomon - Conveyor Ovens

I need to replace my Garland decks with conveyors. Volume is at a point where it’s just stupid to continue with decks. I need to improve service times, consistency, and reduce dependence on staff.
I’d appreciate any further information you can provide with regards to replacing deck ovens with conveyor ovens and maintaining same bake quality. We make high quality pan pizzas with fresh homemade dough. Volume 200-250 pizzas on a weekend night, 100-150 on weeknights, and plans to grow pizza volume 25% in the short term.
Any comments on Lincoln vs. Middleby, finger configurations, recommended size (length) of bake chamber, etc. would be appreciated.
Should I insist on a visit to the manufacturer’s test kitchen to match my current bake? How close a match is normal (e.g. 90% the same product as before)?. Is it normal to have to adjust your dough or product slightly?

hey tym,
how many pizzas an hour are you doing 30-40? if thats the case you might want to look into a couple of lincoln 1100’s they do about 15-18 per hour depending on time & temp

if you know some of the other independents around (15-30 miles away) that are not competition that have the equipment they might let you run a couple of pies through their oven ( I know would)

The Fat Boy

Hi Tym,

I cannot speak for Middleby because I have not personally worked with them on this, but I can speak for Lincoln and they do have the finger configuration to duplicate a deck oven. I worked with them at their factory on how to tweak their ovens to get those results a number of years back. If you are going to do volume, you should look into them. Their service department is really great and they can hook you up with someone near enough to you so you could try an oven out.

Yes, 30-40 per hr. is about right during supper rushes. I’ve never really thought about it in terms of pies/hr. like many here do. I tend to talk about # orders and dollars per 3 hr. peak supper rush as a measure of how busy we are and for staffing purposes.
No conveyor ovens (or chains either) for 150 miles - everyone using decks making homemade sicilian style pizzas. That’s why I’ve delayed the switch for so long - because the competition for top quality pizza here is so tight that I’m worried about any change to the product. But, it’s gotten to the point where it’s just stupid not to make the switch to decks. The other guys can continue to break their backs and beg and scrounge for the few employees that can even spell their own name correctly - let alone cook great pizzas in a deck oven all night.
Are the 1100’s the table top model?

should read - “make the switch FROM decks to conveyors”.

I’ve had lincolns for 6 years, we do ny style pie. Tinkered around with the fingers many times but I’m still not thrilled with the bake. They’re very versatile, we use them for everything . Opening 2nd location and this week tried out rotoflex and Q-matic. Rotoflex—great bake but more labor/skill involved. Q-matic----pizza looked like it was baked in a deck but didn’t taste or feel it(not crispy). I was told could get crispier with tweaking oven/procedure but I’m skeptical about that, still better bake than lincoln.Quiet too.

Regarding not getting deck oven results with a conveyor. The finger configuration for that must be factory installed–and it will also depend upon what else you are baking in the oven. The hearth configuration is for truly authentic NY style pizza which is not loaded with topping and the crust is very thin.

If you are cooking other items out of the oven ie: pastas, entrees or pan pizzas, that configuration won’t work. If you are really interested in buying an impinger, the folks at Lincoln are really very helpful in getting the right configuration for you operation.

If you think getting help for a deck oven is a pain, I’ve got a wood-burning oven in my operation–and I love the results, but training people to use it is a real pain. If I do another store, I will use a gas fired stone oven or even an impinger depending upon the concept. Good labor is a rare commodity these days.

Evelyne…I posted under ‘rams’, talked to my lincoln rep and he told me I had the hearth-bake set-up. What about flour? We use ‘Highriser’, it’s high gluten, sheet then screen, 475degree bake for 6 minutes. Couple of
different local places known for crispy crusts and selling LOTS of pizza use
King Midas(conagra) and 4X(pillsbury), both are lower gluten and I think all-purpose or full-strength flours. any experience with these or similar?
i’m about to make a batch with 4X today I’ll let you know…

Hi Ramsey,

I’ve had experience with many different types of flour, but I need a little bit more information from you, before I can advise you. The most important being the protein percentage of the flours :high gluten is considered 13-15%–But some think 12% is high. Then again, some kick around 10-11% as low and 12 as medium. If you can provide the numbers… :wink:

Hi Evelyne,

I believe what I’m using is 12.2% protein(Cremosa’s highriser) and I
think the Pillsbury and King midas are in the 10-11% range.We do a NY style pie, when they come out they are somewhat crispy but 30 seconds in a box and that’s gone. I’m thinking the lack of crispiness is due more to baking in a conveyor as opposed to a deck. I’ve recently demoed Rotoflex ovens, pies sat in a box for 20 minutes but were still crispy!
I’m hoping tweaking dough recipe will give c rispier bake as I have already tried numerous times and temps with current dough with same results…Thanks…Ramsey

I have zero experience with deck ovens, and the only ovens I’ve used are the ones that are in my pizza shop now… a MM360 and some 30 year old beast of a think… I think it is a MM200 or something. I’m just curious, how much a bake difference you are going to see on a PAN pizza. It seems it would be easier to get a comparable product out of a conveyor oven since you are cooking it in a pan. But again, I’m just blowing smoke, because I really have no experience with it.

Hi Ramsey,

I’m glad I asked you about the protein numbers of your flour. 10-11% are not high gluten–they are low gluten and 12.2 percent is considered medium. Now, just a couple more questions: what is the baking time and temperature used.

Using a higher gluten like 14% will give you crisper chewy results, but doesn’t sheet well and is not recommended for take away as it gets pretty tough to chew as it cools down.

Using 12%–as you are currently using will be the best starting point.

A few more questions:

Do you have this problem with all of your pizzas consistently or only certain ones?
Does this happen with particular toppings?
Are you blending the flours you mentioned in your post or do you switch back and forth?

One piece of advice I can give you right off the bat is to leave everything alone and cook the pies 1 minute longer. There is a world of difference between a 6 minute pie and a 7 minute pie. The 6 minute pie may look cooked on the outside, but it is not really fully cooked inside and the dough is not fully cooked in the center which leads to a less crispy crust. You may not have to change anything but the cooking time–try that first and use 12% flour–don’t blend it with lower protein flours. Blending with lower protein dilutes the gluten quality and strength of the dough to promote crispy crusts–so stick to the medium protein all the way.

Evelyne, It’s straight 12% protein flour(no blending). We bake at 465 for 6 minutes, the pie is thin crust (sheeted then screened). Today I made a batch with Pillsbury 4X(I think around 10%) and baked a couple at 9 O’clock, no noticeable difference. I’m gonna try what you suggested, lower temp and more time, maybe 440 for 7 minutes…Thanks for your help…Ramsey


what size VCM do you use ?


Sorry I’m unfamiliar with VCM? Dough machine? If thats it we have an M802 80Qt mixer by hobart. are you thinking mixer would affect dough characteristics?..Ramsey

Hi Ramsey,

I suggested using the same temperature and cooking the pizzas 1 minute more–at the same temp.

Anyway, hope it helps