I have been thinking about adding take-and bake pizza to my menu. Can I use my regular dough, or do I need a special dough?
Making take-and-bake pizza can be a pretty simple proposition, or it can be a bit more in depth, requiring a specialized dough. The easiest way to make take-and-bake pizza is to modify your existing dough formula and procedure. Begin by adjusting the sugar content of your dough to 5 percent of the fl our weight. This will ensure that the crust will brown nicely in the consumer’s home oven. If you feel that the added sweetness of the finished crust is detrimental to the flavor of the pizza, you can add 6 to 8 percent sweet dairy whey (available from most bakery ingredient suppliers). Just add the whey into the fl our and disperse it by jogging the mixer agitator a couple times, then add the water, and you’re ready to begin mixing. After the dough has been mixed, take it directly to the bench for scaling and balling.
Manage the dough through the cooler overnight in the conventional manner. Then, first thing on the following day, remove the dough from the cooler and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 4 minutes, or until the dough can be easily opened into skins. Place each pizza skin onto a wire screen, take it to the cooler and place it into a wire tree rack for cooling. Allow the dough skins to cool for about 45 minutes, then remove the dough from the screen and stack on a metal tray or cardboard pizza circle about five high, with a piece of parchment paper between each crust. These can be conveniently stored in the reach-in cooler under the prep table. When an order is received for a take and- bake pizza, a prepared dough skin is removed from the stack, placed into an ovenable paperboard tray and lightly oiled to prevent moisture to migrate into the dough. The sauce can now be applied, and the pizza dressed to order. To finish the pizza, wrap it with stretch or shrink wrap and apply a label with all of the appropriate information (such as keep refrigerated, do not freeze, remove plastic over-wrap before baking, complete baking instructions, and a use-by date). If your business will be based on take-and-bake pizza only, you may want to have a more specialized dough for making your pizzas. In addition to the changes recommended above, a coated leavening system should also be included in the dough formulation. This basically consists of a blend of baking soda and sodium aluminum phosphate — which has been encapsulated in fat, allowing it to react as a baking powder during baking rather than during the pre-bake storage period. The reason for including this ingredient is to ensure that the dough/crust will always rise during baking, even if the dough is mishandled by the consumer.
What can you tell me about the “fake” mozzarella cheese I’ve heard of lately?
These are soy-based cheese analogs. They have been around for a good many years now. The first ones that we saw were pretty rough around the edges. The cheese either didn’t melt or, when it did melt, it looked like a blob of melted plastic. Times have changed a bit. Today, we have cheese analogs that actually have a pretty decent flavor as well as melting and stringing properties. These analog cheeses can be used by themselves to provide a 100 percent cholesterol-free topping, or it can be combined with your regular mozzarella or provolone cheese to make a reduced cholesterol cheese topping. This may appeal to extremely health-conscious consumers.
Do you have any ideas for pizzas that might improve business during the slower summer months?
As a matter of fact, I do. As a growing trend, consumers are increasingly looking at locally grown produce as being fresher and better for their families. Why not take advantage of this by offering seasonal pizzas made with locally grown produce? For example, this past summer I demonstrated what I call “pizza primavera.” This is a seasonal pizza made with fresh tomato slices in place of the traditional sauce. Lightly oil the dough skin, then apply some diced garlic, followed by several fresh, green basil leaves. Top with sliced tomato (one large tomato will provide enough slices for a 12-inch pizza), then apply toppings such as zucchini squash, eggplant, yellow squash, sweet banana peppers and/ or bell peppers. Follow with a light application of flavorful whole milk mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese.
This makes for a very attractive pizza that bursts with summer flavors. Maybe it’s your next seasonal-special hit.
Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.