Q: We want to make some type of apple dessert pizza. What can you suggest that is easy to make?
One of my all time favorites is a dessert pizza, and making them is almost as much fun as eating them. They are really very easy and they don’t require any special handling or preparation.
Use your regular dough skin as if you were going to make a regular pizza. Brush it lightly with melted butter, then sprinkle it with cinnamon and granulated sugar. Next, thinly slice a few Granny Smith apples (no need to peel them) and drop the slices into a bowl of water to which one ounce of lemon juice has been added for each quart of water. This will keep the apple slices from turning brown.
Remove apple slices from the water, as needed, and arrange them on the dough skin so that the ends of the apple slices are oriented towards the center and rim of the dough skin. I then hen apply cherry size dollops of ricotta cheese over the pizza, but this isn’t necessary if you are watching costs.
Top the pizza with a streusel topping made as follows: blend together one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, ¼ ounce of salt, ½ ounce of vanilla flavoring and 4 pounds of flour. Lightly mix until the mix takes on a crumbly consistency. Be careful so as not to over-mix into a paste. The streusel should freely crumble when rubbed between your hands.
Apply a moderate topping of streusel to the pizza and take directly to the oven for baking. These pizzas will bake at the same time and temperature as your regular pizzas in most cases. When the pizzas come out of the oven, set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, then ice with a simple powdered sugar/water icing.
Here’s a tip: When making the icing, use regular tap water, not hot water, and immediately transfer into squeeze type bottles (like you might use for mustard or other squeeze condiments). Then just squeeze the icing onto the pizza. The icing can be stored at room temperature for up to three days.
For a quick up-charge, reheat a slice of the dessert pizza before applying the icing and finish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert pizza ala mode. It is delicious and eye catching when your customers see it move through the dining room!
If you want to “up the ante” a little, try this for a dessert pizza: prepare the dough skin as described above, add the apple slices, then add halved red and green grapes, strawberry slices, a few blueberries, and maybe a few peach or mango slices for additional color.
Garnish with the streusel, bake and finish as described above. I like to keep my dessert pizza portions on the smaller size to control cost. I normally make them on a 12-inch format, slice into eight slices and sell by the slice. You can make these during slow times and hold them in the cooler for up to two days if desired. Warm, cold or a la mode, they are great tasting and carry their weight on your table tickets, too.
Q: What makes my dough so rubbery when I take it out of the mixer?
To answer your question in one word: gluten. It is what is responsible for the rubbery consistency of your dough, but I don’t think that’s the answer you’re looking for. If your dough feels unusually tough, or rubbery after mixing, the problem is usually due to under-
absorption of the dough. To put it another way, you may not have added enough water to the dough. Even though it’s the same amount of water that you have always added, any one bag of flour may exhibit absorption properties outside of the normal bounds. Remember, flour is a very
dynamic ingredient. It is constantly changing, and every shipment is somewhat different from the last shipment.
This is one time where the knee-jerk reaction is to add more water to the dough in an attempt to soften/loosen it up a little. And, indeed, that is the right thing to do in this particular circumstance.
If you are using 50 pounds of flour in each of your doughs, begin by increasing the amount of water in your dough by 1 pound, and then make further increases in 8-ounce increments until the dough feels like something closer to normal again. If the problem has started when you changed flour brands, it might be the result of using a flour with an excessively high protein level. Even though both brands may have indicated “high protein” or “high gluten,” that doesn’t mean that they’re the same. Far from it, in fact, as there is no standard for high protein or high gluten flour. I’ve personally seen bagged flour with the words “high gluten” on the bag that, when analyzed, only contained a little over 11 percent protein content. That is a far cry from the 13-plus percent protein content that we typically recognize as high protein flour.
Lastly, if your observations are that the flour is only occasionally tough and rubbery, seemingly with no rhyme or reason, check the actual weight of your bags of flour. We have seen 50-pound bags of flour vary in weight by 12, or more, ounces. This could possibly be the reason why you are occasionally seeing your doughs come out unusually tough and
Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.