Slippery Cheese
February 5, 2005 10:57 PM   Subscribe

HomemadePizzaFilter. For the love of god, please help stop the cheese from sliding off. [More inside but stuffed crust is definitely out.]

I'm a hardcore enthusiast of home made pizza. Favorite dough recipe? Check. Pizza stone? Check. Paddle? Check, I named it Diane. So what's holding me back from a certain hall of fame bid? Even after resting the pizza post-baking, my guests and I have come to expect catastrophic cheese and topping slides roughly 1/6 of the time. For the record, my layering has been dough/sauce/cheese/toppings and I've tried a few sauces and cheeses. Have any brilliant MeFi chefs permanently eradicated this menacing problem? Is the likely culprit the sauce (too thin, too much?), the cheese (any particular brands better than others?), baking technique, or am I doomed to a life of occasional mediocrity?
posted by fatllama to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would primarily blame the sauce, since that's what is creating the slippery layer between dough and cheese. Have tried cooking the sauce down so that the flavors concentrate and you can use less of it? Also, I've noticed the more moist cheeses form a solid cheesy layer that seems like it would slide off more easily. Can you find a low moisture mozzarella (assuming that's the cheese you want)? Also, less cheese or a mix of mozzarella and a dry grated cheese might help. Good luck with your tests.
posted by cali at 11:10 PM on February 5, 2005

Your sauce is too thin. Thicken it up a bit. And don't sauce all the way out to the edge like that. Leave room around the outside for the cheese to anchor to the dough.

Also, don't crust the cheese up so much. Let it get nice and stringy. Yeah, I know, the browned part is really tasty, but until you have your sauce down, don't try to get fancy.

Also, slice decisively, just a few minutes after removing from the oven, so that cheese sliding is less of a problem for individual slices when they're being parcelled out.
posted by majick at 11:42 PM on February 5, 2005

I make a chunky marinara sauce and use the liquidy parts very, very sparingly (no little puddles of it.)
For cheese, I lightly spread grated (dry) cheeses like parmesan, romano or assiago. Then I put put really thin slices of water-packed buffalo mozzarella over it the way one might with pepperoni - covering it- but separated just enough so the cheese pieces don't melt into eachother. It seems to be working okay. Moist cheeses like mozzarella (and provolone to a lesser extent) are most likely to adhere and slide off, so separating it teally helps. (The other cheeses do it too, but I try not to use enough to for them to all stick together.)
Good luck - I like your link.
posted by sophie at 11:47 PM on February 5, 2005

Also, slice decisively, just a few minutes after removing from the oven...

If not sooner. The NY pizza vendors have this down to a science: slide out of oven, slice immediately with swift firm strokes. I'll bet one reason this method works is that slicing while hot exposes more bread surface area for the cheese to attach to while it's still gooey. So it gets anchored on all three sides.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:50 AM on February 6, 2005

Best answer: Your problem is simple, but is easily remedied. You are using too much sauce. It is quite common. Try half the amount you are now using. If this is too little, increase by small increments until you are comfortable both with the sauce and the ease of cutting.

Also you may wish to think about the cheese you are using. If it grates easily, it is not the right mozzarella. Get the freshest you can find. Cut into small cubes.

Wait five to ten minutes after you take it out before cutting. Otherwise the fats are too liquid, everything is runny, and the cheese is too elastic.

You are not a NY pizza shop. This is probably good, in that you most likely have better ingredients. But it also means you shouldn't behave the same way; your good mozzarella can wait, and you good crust can stand up. You are not looking to sell stuff during the short time that it's still good.
posted by lackutrol at 2:47 AM on February 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

When I make pizza, I use sun dried tomato pesto as the sauce, resulting in no slippage, and lots of flavour (1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 50g sun dried tomatoes, 25g basil leaves, 25g pine nuts, 90ml olive oil - blend until fairly smooth, then stir in some parmasan).
posted by chill at 4:25 AM on February 6, 2005

lackutrol is right, too much sauce. Pretty much any cheese that melts works fine if you get the sauce right.
posted by spaghetti at 6:01 AM on February 6, 2005

I agree with the 'too much sauce' contingency and am definitely going to try chill's sun-dried tomato sauce, that sounds very yum!

If less sauce just sounds gross to you, have a dipping pot of sauce available, to keep it warm [like in a fondue pot - I always knew there would be a new use for that thing!].
posted by kamylyon at 6:41 AM on February 6, 2005

Alton Brown says no more than 3 tablespoons of sauce for a 12-inch pie:
Now, the trick to sauce is to use as little as possible. I've only got about an ounce and a half sitting here. Ladle it right into the middle and then swirl it out. Now, you can use bottled sauce, you could even used canned crushed tomatoes as long as you drain them thoroughly. But you see, I've barely got just a little layer on there. If you put a whole pool on there, believe me, you're going to have an ingredient slide, and it will be ugly.
It works for me.
posted by mdeatherage at 8:11 AM on February 6, 2005

Assuming a 10 inch crust, my methodology is:
1) Minimal sauce. I spoon about 2 tablespoons into the center and then spread it in a spiral to about a 1/2 inch from the outside edge, using the back of the ladle. You'll have some empty spaces but the sauce will spread to cover them. (Sauce = crushed tomatoes and garlic. Simmer until thick.)
2) Put the toppings directly onto the sauce and bake the pizza without cheese, then add shredded low moisture mozzarella for the last 3 minutes.

I have had no cheese slippage issues.
posted by donpardo at 9:39 AM on February 6, 2005

You can also try putting at least some of the cheese on before the sauce -- I've seen this recommended in a few pizza cookbooks. It keeps the sauce from making the crust soggy, and might solve the cheese sliding problem as well. Also, I usually brush oil on the crust* before I put anything else on it, and I don't have problems with sliding.

*If you roast some garlic for the pizza**, you can use the oil you roasted it in to brush all over the freshly rolled dough. This is tasty.

**You don't need a garlic roaster thingie, just some peeled cloves covered in oil in an ovenproof ramekin. Roast for an hour or so at 275.
Also, sauce-free pizzas are fun. Good luck!
posted by climalene at 10:14 AM on February 6, 2005

I always use

base / tomato paste / thinly sliced mushrooms / cheese / meat & veg / cheese

No problems with slippage. The cheese I use is a blend of mozzarella and tasty.
posted by tomble at 6:27 PM on February 6, 2005

The sauce needs to be extremely concentrated in flavor and nearly devoid of water. I do not have the patience to make such strongly flavored sauces myself from scratch, because I don't like simmering all that water off. I use Contadina tomato paste instead, and anchovies to make the sauce extremely tangy.

Also, the crust should rise a little bit yeastily; ideally it'll have bubbles that roughen its surface and serve to inhibit slipping.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:47 PM on February 6, 2005

I had pizza slides quite frequently and concluded that the problems I was having were due to too steep an angle on the peel and too sticky a peel (ie, dough too sticky, getting stuck when toppings applied).

I've started putting polenta on the peel and the stone to prevent sticking. That helps reduce the angle of repose required before the pizza starts to slide.

I've also started cheating by putting the plain pizza base on the stone for a minute, then pulling it out and making the pizza. It may seem inauthentic, but the base is nice and crispy - not flimsy - and I've stopped having the "hot cheese on hot stone" disasters.

If it seems a bit fiddly to pre-cook the bases for a minute, it actually improves the flow a bit because I don't even need the peel to get the finished pizza out of the oven - I can grab it with a fork and slide it out, so I can stream inbound pizzas on the peel and pull them out onto a cutting board directly. No waiting until one is out before making the next. I usually make four in a batch.
posted by sagwalla at 4:37 AM on February 7, 2005

Response by poster: You are not a NY pizza shop.

This is likely an explanation for several faults in my life, lackutrol.

...thin slices of water-packed buffalo mozzarella...
...If you roast some garlic for the pizza...
...sun dried tomato pesto...

Ok, yum. I can stream inbound pizzas...

sagwalla wins: that's champion talk right there folks. Thanks to all the tips; you are the wind beneath my wings. I've had two cases of Great Success so far using the same low-moisture shredded mozzarella. The changes in my routine are a limit of 3 tsp. of thick sauce and absolutely no flouring of the top surface of the pizza (when stretched the surface becomes really rough and sticky).
posted by fatllama at 6:49 PM on February 9, 2005

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