Q: I’m tinkering with adding a take-and-bake component to my pizzeria, but it makes me nervous because I don’t want to be blamed when customers fall asleep and burn their pizzas! How can I avoid this?
A: I’m on record as being a take-and-bake fan. It makes sense on so many levels. It’s just so darn convenient for the customers.
One of my favorites is a stuffed pizza or a calzone. The bake time for these can be high, so it’s important you provide your customers with some guidance. Remember, you are now turning control of your product over to them — and that can be a scary thing! Be sure you provide them with these tips for any take-and-bake pizza product you serve:
- Bake the stuffed pizza or calzone within one hour or refrigerate. Best results are achieved when the stuffed pizza or calzone is baked fresh, so avoid freezing.
- If you refrigerate the stuffed pizza or calzone, remove it from the fridge and let it stand at room temperature for at least one hour before baking.
- Bake only one stuffed pizza or calzone at a time.
- Make sure the baking tray does not touch the sides or back of the oven.
- For a crispier bottom crust, slide the stuffed pizza or calzone directly onto the oven rack for the last two minutes of baking time.
Now that we have that out of the way, here are sample directions that should be printed and given to every customer, every time:
- Preheat oven to 425 F (or whatever specific temperature your formulation calls for. 425 is probably about right for just about any take-n-bake pizza).
- Remove wrapper, sauce cup and instructions. Place the stuffed pizza or calzone and baking tray on the center rack of your oven. Make sure the center rack is placed six to eight inches from the bottom of the oven.
- Average baking time is between X and X minutes (fill in what’s appropriate based on the product).
- Stuffed pizza or calzone is perfectly baked when the bottom and top of the pizza are golden brown. Check the bottom of the pizza by lifting the edge with a spatula.
- Remove the stuffed pizza or calzone from the oven and let it stand for a few minutes before cutting into slices, then serve and savor the flavor.
I’d also include these tips at the bottom of the instructions:
- The baking tray provided with your pizza is to be used ONE TIME ONLY.
- The baking tray may discolor during baking. This is normal.
- Discard the baking tray after one use. DO NOT use it to reheat or bake again.
Big Dave Ostrander owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a contributor to Pizza Today.