Solving the soggy pizza problem

QUESTION:

We have been struggling with soggy pizzas and soft crusts for some time now. No matter what we do, we can’t fix the problem. We bake our pies in deck ovens at 550°F, and we probably use more toppings than we should, but that’s what our customers want. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

This is a tough one. The logical approach would be to use fewer vegetable toppings, but that isn’t an option for you. By reducing your oven temperature to a range between 475°F and 500°F, you can bake the pizzas longer, potentially developing a thicker, drier bottom crust while allowing more time for the excess moisture to evaporate from the top of the pizza. To me, however, the ultimate fix—and the one you probably don’t want to hear—is to replace your existing ovens with air impingement ovens, either in the form of air deck ovens or conveyor air impingement ovens. The high air velocity in the air impingement ovens will act much like a hair dryer, helping to evaporate moisture from the top of the pie during baking and yielding a significantly drier product coming out of the oven.

QUESTION:

We use fresh tomato slices on many of our pies, but they contribute a significant amount of moisture to the top of the pizzas. What is the best way to address this problem?

ANSWER:

There are a couple of things that can be done to keep the tomato slices from watering out all over your pie. For starters, you could thin-slice the tomato into pieces no thicker than ¼”, but I’d say that 3/16” is even better. With this approach, the moisture will be flashed off the tomato as it is released, making for a drier finished pizza.
You could also place the tomato slices in a container with pieces of absorbent paper or towels between each layer. This helps to draw a good deal of the moisture out of the tomato before it even gets onto the pizza, thus reducing the amount of water that’s released during baking. You should also try to keep the tomato pieces on the very top of the pizza, allowing for maximum exposure to heat and airflow.