By John Correll Crafting a er Crust Bett u
Follow these eight
simple steps to
design the pizza
crust of your dreams.
New styles of pizza crust have generated headlines around the world recently as Pizza Hut,
Domino’s and other chains tinker with
their recipes. Some of these permutations
border on the bizarre, such as Pizza Hut’s
experiments with hot dog-stuffed crusts
in the United Kingdom and crusts made
from cheeseburgers and chicken strips in
the Middle East. Most pizzeria operators
avoid such drastic changes, but some still
look for new ways to jazz up their crusts
and add variety to their menus.
If you’re looking to formulate a new
pizza crust, the task can appear daunting.
However, you can make it easier by following these guidelines:
1. Set up and Equip a Test Kitchen
mixer, preferably one that simulates your
pizzeria mixer. For a planetary type mixer, purchase a used five-quart or 12-quart
table model. For a less expensive domestic version, buy a mixer at a home kitchen
For a cutter mixer, choose from sizes
ranging from three quarts to 15 quarts.
One advantage of a cutter mixer is that
you can make several recipe variations
quickly. Additionally, it can be used for
chopping cheese and blending sauce. A
large-model food processor will also do
the job, whipping up a 16-ounce dough
ball in about 90 seconds.
You’ll also need some utensils, including an accurate 32-ounce portion
scale, a stem thermometer, measuring
spoons, bowls, pans, screens, peels and
other baking items. If you want to take
the temperature of baked pizzas, an infrared thermometer can be handy. Generally speaking, the best size for testing
purposes is a medium pizza, typically a
12” round pie. Stock a small inventory
of test ingredients, such as flour, yeast,
salt and sugar, and use pizzeria-type
supplies. In short, duplicate the ingredients that you’ll be using in actual large-batch production.
Finally, you’ll need an oven. Table
model pizza ovens are available in gas,
electric, deck and conveyor models. If
that’s too expensive, a small, electric
single-pizza oven with a slide-out wire
rack can be used. If none of those suit
your budget, use a home oven. Baking
on the lowest rack will usually produce
the best result. To simulate hearth
baking in a home oven, you can buy a
baking stone from a restaurant supply
store. Bake the pizza at between 450° to
500° and allow at least 45 minutes for
the stone to heat up.
Recipe development usually progress-es in small steps. It’s a trial-and-error
process that advances from batch to
batch, with each batch being slightly different from—and, hopefully, an improvement upon—the prior one. Dozens of
batches must be tested sometimes before
arriving at the desired result. So mixing 20-pound batches in a pizzeria-size
mixer is not an economical approach.
You’ll need a way to make one-pound or
two-pound batches, and that requires a
small test kitchen.
Your test kitchen can be set up in a
pizzeria or, for more privacy and convenience, in your home. You’ll need a small
2. Write it Down
Breakthroughs often come when you least
expect them. If you don’t know exactly
how you achieved the breakthrough, you
might not be able to repeat it. So, for every
test batch, you must write things down.
Keep a record of what you did, how you
did it and how it turned out, no matter
how insignificant each step might seem.
Use a three-ring binder filled with lined
paper. For each batch, use one sheet of
paper and record the date, the exact recipe, any special procedures you followed,
and the results. Make note of any special