Dough Rounders. Labor saving? Quality-control device? Insurance policy?
Well all of the above actually. When I first started selling pizza dough prep machinery around 15 years ago I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want a dough-rounding machine. How hard could it be rounding a portion of pizza dough? Surely the most arduous task in preparing dough would be cutting and weighing the portions? The dough-rounder (I thought) was a moderately expensive gimmick that encroached on valuable bench space (usually at a premium in a Pizzeria’s kitchen)
The first Dough Rounder that I supplied many years ago was to a Pizzeria owner who wanted to re-employ a staff member who had just recovered from carpal tunnel surgery (an injury caused from years of working dough). Injuries such as OOS (occupational overuse syndrome) carpal tunnel syndrome, Tenosynovitis, neck and shoulder strain are quite common to pizza makers. These injuries caused by working pizza dough over a long period of time are debilitating and require extensive therapy.
So what does a Dough Rounder do? Apart from the obvious, a dough rounder should uniformly round and close over scaled dough portions without considerable skill or effort. The dough portion should be tight.
There are 3 types of dough-rounders commonly used:
The Conical Rounder. Most commonly used in bakeries; this machine is generally a large floor standing unit that resembles a lunar landing module but works well with a variety of dough consistencies. They usually require 3-phase power and are rather expensive.
The ‘Screw’ type. A vertical or horizontal box that has a spiralling ‘Auger’ in the centre. The dough portions are dropped in and come out rounded (but not necessarily kneaded). They are relatively inexpensive and compact but difficult to clean and can accumulate dough in the unit’s housing
The ‘Planetary’ type. This is by far the most effective rounder for the pizzeria. Usually constructed in stainless steel and alloy, the bench-top planetary dough rounder will round, close over but most importantly knead the dough portions. It is the easiest to clean of all types.
The Friul planetary action dough rounder is a high quality Italian made and patented unit. It is constructed in stainless steel and the highest quality of food grade anodized alloy available. Some Asian manufacturers who have copied the Friul rounder coat the moulding surface with Teflon to stop higher water consistency dough’s from sticking but usually it conceals inferior quality alloy castings.
The Friul rounder will knead dough portion around 50 times each, will round approximately 350-400kg of scaled dough portions per hour, they are compact (78cm in diameter) and only require single-phase power.
In the heading of this article I mentioned ‘insurance policy’. A Dough Rounder is a cheaper alternative than a court case involving an employee who wants compensation for injuries caused by repetitively working dough. No scare tactics here folks; we all know that OOS (or RSI before it became a catch phrase) and Tenosynovitis are serious problems in the pizza industry.
Go ask a ‘career’ dough-boy (or girl). But be careful when you shake their hand…