Garlic knots, recipe testing and dough to go

Jeff Zeak gives a recipe for garlic knots, and shares his opinions on testing and selling dough.



QUESTION:

I’d like to add garlic knots to my menu, but I’ve tasted ones that are either too greasy or don’t have enough garlic flavor. Do you have a good recipe?

ANSWER:

You can very easily use your current dough for the production of garlic knots. Cut your dough into 2-ounce pieces, roll them into 4” to 5” ropes and tie them into knots. Place the knots on a buttered sheet pan (or a pan lined with parchment paper) and brush them with garlic butter. Cover and allow knots to rise in a warm place for about an hour. Bake them until they are light golden brown. After baking, brush them lightly with olive oil infused with garlic, and sprinkle them with garlic salt, if desired.

QUESTION:

Is there a way to test different dough recipes without having to make a full pizza, so I can avoid wasting cheese and sauce?

ANSWER:

The short answer to this question is no. If you truly want to test the dough for the purposes of making pizza, the only way to evaluate its function and full potential is to do it using at the very least the basic components of tomato sauce and cheese. Without using these ingredients on the dough, your evaluation will amount to looking at the dough’s potential for making bread or rolls. When you add sauce and cheese to the dough surface, you significantly change the baking characteristics of the dough. When testing different dough formulas, it’s important to evaluate the complete package of this multi-component product called pizza. So go for it—treat yourself, friends or customers to a complete pizza when testing different dough recipes. It’s really the only way to go.

QUESTION:

What’s your opinion about selling dough balls to customers who want to make their own pizzas at home?

ANSWER:

Your dough is what makes your pizza special and may be what makes people seek out and buy your pizza, so this is a difficult question to answer. You can approach this subject with two different schools of thought. One would be: Don’t do it, because it could represent the lost sale of pizzas. But here is a second thought: Selling your dough could serve as a customer service-building exercise as long as you are making enough profit by doing it. By selling your dough while having profit margins equal to that of selling a pizza, you have lost nothing and gained customer service respect. Make sure that you charge enough for the dough ball so that you cover the cost of ingredients, labor, utilities, and wear and tear on the machinery.

Jeff Zeak is the pilot plant manager for the American Institute of Baking (AIB). Need more dough advice? Visit the Dough Information Center at PMQ.com/dough.
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