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Le impastatrici. Una visione d’insieme

Le impastatrici. Una visione d’insieme

Kneading machine: which to choose

Pizza kneading machines are basins with varying capacities (5 to 1000 g), generally rotating, in which parts of the formula are subjected to the mechanical action of arms of different shapes, in function of the energy that has to be delivered.

They make three types of kneading machines for pizzerias (plunging arm, spiral, and fork). They have different technical characteristics and are designed for very precise things. Based on the capacity of the basin, the volume of dough, and the kneading arm, the final heat that is transferred to the dough changes. To these three types of kneading machine, which are the most used in the field of breadmaking, there’s another type that is mainly used in pastry making: the planetary mixer.

Let’s look closer at the characteristics of each individual machine:

Fork kneading machine

It has a kneading arm called a fork, is the slowest machine compared to the plunging and the spiral, with the advantage of being the one that transfers the least degrees to the dough in the end. Designed to knead with a low percentage of water (dry or hard doughs).


  • It’s great for kneading the biga starters, since it transfers very little heat to the finished biga starter.
  • Thanks to the type of kneading tool and its slow speed, this type of kneading machine transfers 3°C to the dough with the straight dough method (direct) and 6°C with the sponge method (a preferment).
  • It’s suitable for kneading dry dough (48-50% hydration).


  • It isn’t suitable for kneading dough with percentages over 60-65% hydration.
  • Higher kneading time, due to the slow speed, which generally takes 30 minutes.
  • Less oxygenation of the finished dough, and as a consequence, less final dough volume compared to the plunging arms.
  • Very low dough productivity mainly due to the extremely long kneading time.

Plunging arm kneading machine

Impastatrici per pizza

This was the first kneading machine that appeared in the early 1900s, known by the name artofex; it has two arms whose movement (both circular and vertical) simulate the movement of human arms.

Designed to knead very wet dough (soft, with 60-85% hydration) that requires good final oxygenation to perfectly develop the dough’s gluten network. The movement of the arms, from up to down, oxygenates the dough more, thus obtaining a larger finished dough volume compared to a spiral or fork kneading machine.

Used a lot in pastry shops to make dough for panettone, pandoro (traditional buttery, vanilla-flavored Italian Christmas cake of Verona, tall, star-shaped and sprinkled with powdered sugar), and colomba (dove-shaped Easter cake). In bakeries, it is used for soft dough like flat loaves, baguettes, zoccoletti rolls, and focaccia.


  • Very oxygenated, voluminous dough due to higher stimulus from the yeast fermentation activity.
  • Greater development of the final dough both in fermentation and in the cooked finished product.
  • Minimal heat transferred to a straight dough (direct) 6°C, for a sponge-method dough (a preferment) 12°C.
  • Average kneading time, 15-20 minutes max for regular dough, while for very hydrated dough it takes longer, up to 30-40 minutes.
  • The option to adjust the height of the arms to make it easier to get the dough off of the basin and the kneading bodies (arms).


  • Takes up a lot of room
  • High investment cost
  • Low dough productivity compared to the spiral kind due to long kneading time.

Spiral kneading machine

Impastatrici per pizza

Its design sprang from the need to cut kneading time in industrial production. Suitable to any type of dough, it works with an arm called spiral that generates pressure from up to down (depending on the shape of the spiral itself) with a central column that holds and better exposes the dough to the spiral itself.

It is the kneading machine that transmits the most degrees to the finished dough, 9°C for the straight dough method (direct) and 18°C for the sponge method (a preferment). The dough obtained with the spiral clearly develops the finished product less than the plunging arm and the fork.


  • Low kneading time, thanks to the higher basin rotation speed, the shape, and the arm rotation speed (generally for pizza dough from 10-12 minutes).
  • Option to change direction to shape the biga starters and for better flour gathering.
  • Excellent for soft dough with over 85% hydration.
  • Liftable head and removable basins.
  • Financial investment for small kneading machines, high for professional ones.


  • Probable excessive overheating
  • Not so much selection in processing speeds

Planetary Kneading machine

Impastatrici per pizza

Primarily designed for pastry production. Thanks to its versatility, you can use several types of arms with the aim to get soft dough with the paddle attachment, medium hardness with the spiral, whip sponge cake dough and egg yolks, and create mousses and creams with the whisk.

The kneading tool moves elliptically creating very smooth, uniform dough.

It’s unlikely to be used in pizzeria due to the extremely high amount of heat transferred to the dough.


  • Fast gluten formation in dough.
  • Option to use several kneading tools with a single machine.
  • High oxygenation in any type of dough.


  • Heat transferred to the dough (over 12°C if not controlled).
  • High investment.
  • Takes up lots of space.