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Diana Coutu The Pizza Chef: How to reduce the gum line

How to reduce the gum line

Written by Diana Coutu   
The term ‘gum line’ refers to the section of pizza between the crust and under the sauce, cheese and toppings. Basically, if you pull back your cheese and toppings, the white, doughy part is the gum line.  Examine a slice of your pie from the side. Ideally there should be less than four millimetres of gum line. Any more than that and you have one doughy pie. For some operators, this area is a big problem. 

If your customers have ever complained that the pizza was raw even though you’re positive it was baked to a golden brown before it went out, this is where you need to look.

Watery sauce is often the culprit, with the extra moisture separating quickly and leaching into your dough. Coupled with cheese on top, a little steam pocket is created and trapped in between those layers with no hope of escape. Moist vegetable toppings, resulting in the need to drain pizzas before you box and slice them, exacerbate this problem.

Another factor affecting the gum line is if you slap-out and sauce pizzas ahead of time to meet the demand of a hectic supper rush. Even if your sauce is nice and thick, you may still find that there are complaints of raw dough from customers. The longer a raw sauced pizza crust sits, the more likely to develop a large gum line. And that will ruin any good pizza. 

There are a few ways to address this.

The first is to thicken up your sauce and reduce the water content. For those of you who begin with canned tomatoes simply strain some of the water out of the can before you add your spices. I would advise you to find a better quality of canned tomatoes to use. The higher the quality of canned tomatoes, the more tomatoes there are, therefore less moisture to create a gum line.

You can also let your sauce marinate overnight to thicken up. This is a good way, as it allows your spices to marinate and develop amazing flavours. We start with the best quality canned tomatoes and marinate overnight with our own special blend of herbs and spices. Our sauce is truly unique and it’s another point of distinction for our pizzeria versus our ‘so-called’ competitors. You could also heat your sauce to a simmer then reduce the water content that way. Either way, you will have to adjust your recipe. 

Another method is to brush the slapped-out pizza crust with olive oil before you sauce it. This creates a mini barrier between the crust and the sauce. The olive oil seasons the dough, and even adds just a little more flavour to the overall pie. Your sauce will sit on top of this layer and will not likely seep into the dough. This is a preferred method to use if you bang out crusts and sauce them in advance of a rush.  You may even want to try this with those extra sauce pizzas. I would suggest doing this for take’n’bake pizzas as well. 

Perhaps some of you have been thinking of offering take’n’bake pizzas to your clientele. A take’n’bake customer has a different mentality than a fresh pizza customer. This person is thinking ahead for a later meal, not necessarily thinking of the now.
There’s also the win-win savings benefit of no tax: none to collect, nor any to remit.

If you’re still not offering your customers a take’n’bake option, why? It’s the summer, people break out of their ordinary routines and you may find that you don’t see your regulars as often as before.  Many people head out to the lake, to their homes away from home. But they still like all the comforts of home so make it easy for them. Get some parchment paper, some cardboard rounds, shrink film and a pizza wrapper – an investment cost of under $500 US (www.takenbakepizza.com).

Keep them hooked on your pies and when fall arrives your place will still be top of mind.•