Q Our customers occasionally complain about the cheese sliding off their pizzas when they take a bite. How do we prevent this?
A Research has identified several factors responsible for the dreaded cheese slip. They include:
1. Too much sauce. In this case, the cheese is practically floating on a sea of sauce, and when you consider the “stretch” of the cheese, you can see how the cheese will be pulled off as your customer bites into a slice. The effect, however, varies from one type of cheese to another. Shredded cheese is the worst performer. It has greater integrity and greater thickness and is more likely to slide off a heavily sauced crust in larger clumps. With diced cheese, we found a slight reduction in cheese slip, due to the more uniform application of the cheese as well as some commingling of the cheese and sauce, making it easier to bite through the pie without any slippage.
Finally, we looked at cheese that’s torn apart or cut into large, irregular shapes and applied randomly over the top of the pizza. In this case, we experienced very little cheese slip—the larger cheese pieces tended to sink into the sauce, allowing for a better grip on the crust. It also helps that the customer probably doesn’t get cheese with every bite on this type of pizza.
Cheese types aside, it’s important to remember that the real problem here is too much sauce. When we cut back on the sauce, we had no problems with cheese slip, regardless of the form of mozzarella used.
2. Using thickened sauce. If you thicken your sauce either through the addition of a thickener, such as a gum material, or (unheated) onion or garlic, the sauce will take on a slimy, jellylike texture, which leads to increased cheese slip. A better approach is to thicken the sauce by increasing the tomato-solids content, which won’t turn into tomato jelly. If you’re trying to add flavor to your sauce, try microwaving the onion or garlic in a bowl of water and bringing it to a boil before adding it to the sauce. If you don’t add anything to your sauce and still have this problem, simply try cutting back on the amount of sauce you add to the pizza.
3. Too much oil on the dough skin. To a lesser extent, we found the application of too much oil to the dough skin (prior to saucing) can also promote cheese slip. This is rarely a problem, but it happens when a shop gets slammed and has to presauce the skins to keep up with the orders. The pizza maker will brush the skin with oil before applying the sauce, hoping to prevent the sauce from soaking into the dough. But too much oil creates a “slip layer” under the sauce, and then both the cheese and the sauce get pulled off the pizza with every bite! In this situation, use just enough oil to put a shine on the dough surface—anything more serves no beneficial purpose.
Lastly, if your mozzarella gets tough when melted on the pizza, consider blending it with a little white cheddar for a softer, creamier texture. But, first, check with your cheese manufacturer to make sure you’re properly storing and rotating the cheese in your store, as this can have an impact on the “bite” or toughness of the cheese and, again, increase the likelihood of cheese slip.