2010 February: Dough Doctor

Q: Do you have any suggestions for making a very quick and easy dessert item?

A: Here’s one that I’ve made since the late 1960’s very successfully. It’s based on the calzone concept, except it is made with a fruit filling. Use your regular pizza dough and cut it into either six- or eight-inch diameter circles, wet the edge of the circle with water and spoon some pie filling or canned fruit into the center of the dough piece. Fold the top half down over the bottom half and crimp the edges tightly to seal them. As you pick the pocket up to transfer it to a baking screen or peel, push the top down onto the filling to distribute the filling throughout the pocket.

Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut a couple vents into the top of the roll for steam to escape, then lightly brush the top with whole milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. When the crust turns a rich, golden brown in the oven, the “dessert pockets” are done and are ready to be served.

Note: If you are baking these on a screen or baking tray, be careful so as not to get any sugar onto the screen or tray. With time, the melted sugar will char and build up, making a mess out of your screens/trays (unless they have a non-stick finish — in that case, don’t give it a second thought.)

Can you give me some ideas for different types of breadsticks to go with my pizza?

Answer:
There are any number of variations of breadsticks that you can make to go with pizza. Here are a couple of my own personal favorites.

Cheese-filled Breadsticks — Use a 2- or 3-ounce dough piece and shape it into a hotdog (some call this a string or rope). Set aside on a lightly floured surface to rest from an hour to three hours. Be sure to cover with a sheet of plastic to prevent drying. Flatten the dough piece to form a rectangle about 3 inches wide by 6 or 7 inches long. Wet the bottom edge of the dough piece with a little water, place a 5- to 6-inch long piece of string cheese onto the dough and roll the dough up around the cheese, rolling the dough towards you. The wet edge will form the seam, sealing the rolled dough together. Press the dough down slightly to help seal the seam on the bottom, then transfer to a baking tray or screen, brush with olive oil, and top with a pinch of shredded Parmesan cheese. When the breadstick comes out of the oven, brush lightly with garlic butter and serve.

Pepperoni Breadsticks — These are made in essentially the same way as the cheese filled breadsticks, except that slices of pepperoni are shingled across the top 1/3 of the dough piece. The dough is then rolled, jelly roll fashion, and sealed in the same manner. Again, I like to brush the roll with a little olive oil and sprinkle on a little shredded Parmesan cheese.
We seem to get a lot of requests for gluten-free pizzas. Is it worth the effort to make glutenfree pizza?

Answer:
My own personal take on this is no, it’s not worth the effort. Now, before you start sending all those cards, letters and e-mails challenging me on that statement, allow me to pose my point of view. Then you can decide if you want to get into the gluten-free pizza business or not.

Making gluten-free (GF) crusts at your store will be somewhat problematic as many of the ingredients are difficult to obtain from our regular suppliers, so purchasing ready-made GF crusts might be the preferred way to go. Add to that the fact that your store is already heavily contaminated with fl our dust containing wheat protein (gluten) and the probability of a customer getting a “gluten-free” pizza cross-contaminated with your regular fl our is very high, if not a sure thing. Think of it like this: the fl our dust is in the air, on every utensil, on all surfaces, on your body and on your clothing. The opportunities for cross contamination are endless. Then, if you talk to your insurance agent, you may find out that all bets regarding your liability insurance are off if you begin selling GF pizzas. You may need to ante up for special, additional coverage.

Roughly three percent of the U.S. population is sensitive to gluten. Let’s say another three percent of your customers will ask for GF pizza as well — that means 94 percent of your customer base is not asking for it.

Ask yourself if it’s really worth the effort, risk, and cost to dabble in GF pizza. That’s my personal take, anyway. ?

Tom Lehmann
is a director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.

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