Despite Neapolitan pizza is a globally renowned Italian food, its obligatory baking in wood-fired ovens has so far received little attention in the scientific community. Since heat transfer during pizza baking is not at all uniform, the main aim of this work was to analyze the phenomenology of Neapolitan pizza baking in a pilot-scale wood-fired pizza oven operating in quasi steady-state conditions. The different upper area sections of pizza covered or not by the main topping ingredients (i.e., tomato puree, sunflower oil, or mozzarella cheese), as well the bottom of the pizza and the growth of its raised rim, were characterized by visual colorimetric analysis, while the time course of their corresponding temperatures was monitored using an infrared thermal scanning camera. The maximum temperature of the pizza bottom was equal to 100 ± 9 °C, while that of the upper pizza side ranged from 182 °C to 84 or 67 °C in the case of white pizza, tomato pizza, or margherita pizza, respectively, mainly because of their diverse moisture content and emissivity. The pizza weight loss was nonlinearly related to the average temperature of the upper pizza side. The formation of brown or black colored areas on the upper and lower sides of baked pizza was detected with the help of an electronic eye. The upper side exhibited greater degrees of browning and blackening than the lower one, their maximum values being about 26 and 8%, respectively, for white pizza. These results might help develop a specific modelling and monitoring strategy to reduce variability and maximize the quality attributes of Neapolitan pizza.
Funding Information
  • Italian Ministry of Instruction, University and Research within the research project entitled “The Neapolitan pizza: processing, distribution, innovation and environmental aspects (PRIN 2017—prot. 2017SFTX3Y_001)

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