Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features In the Kitchen Tools of the Trade
The pizza Chef: January-February 2015

How to reduce the gum line


Watery sauce is often the culprit of doughy gum lines, with the extra moisture separating quickly and leaching into your dough.

For some operators, getting the gum line right is a big problem. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve the gum line on your pie.

For some operators, getting the gum line right is a big problem. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve the gum line on your pie.

The term “gum line” refers to the section of pizza between the crust and other elements of your pizza – the section 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 will be less than four millimetres of gum line. Any more than that and you have one doughy pie.

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. With the help of cheese on top, a little pocket is created where steam is trapped between those layers with no hope of escape. Vegetable toppings often exacerbate the problem, resulting in the need to drain pizzas before you box and slice them.

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MAKE-AHEADS POSE A PROBLEM
There is another factor to consider: if you slap and sauce pizzas out ahead of time in order to meet the demand of a hectic supper rush, you may end up with complaints of raw dough from customers. This can happen even if your sauce is nice and thick. The longer a raw sauced pizza crust sits, the more likely it is 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. With canned tomatoes, the higher the quality, the more tomatoes there are, and the less moisture there is to create a gum line.

Alternatively, you can thicken your sauce by letting it marinate overnight. This is a good strategy as it allows your spices to develop amazing flavours. We start with the best quality canned tomatoes and marinate the sauce overnight with our special blend of herbs and spices. Our sauce is truly unique and it’s another point that distinguishes us from our competitors.

A third option is to heat your sauce to a simmer then reduce the water content that way. In this case, you will have to adjust your recipe.

A fourth method is to brush the slapped-out pizza crust with olive oil before you sauce it. This creates a mini barrier between crust and 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 slap out crusts and sauce them in advance of a rush. You may want to try this with those extra-sauce pizzas. I recommend doing this for take ’n’ bake pizzas as well.

TAKE ’N’ BAKE AN OPPORTUNITY
Perhaps you have been thinking of offering take ’n’ bake pizzas to your clientele. A take ’n’ bake customer has a different mentality than someone who orders a freshly baked pizza. This person is thinking ahead for a later meal and not necessarily thinking of the now. There’s also the win-win savings benefit of no tax: none to collect, and none to remit. If you’re not offering take ’n’ bake, why not? Hey, it’s winter: people are more likely to hibernate and you may find that you don’t see your regulars picking up as often as before.

So make it easy for them. Get some parchment paper, cardboard rounds, shrink film and a pizza wrapper. Keep customers hooked on your pies and when spring arrives your place will still be top of mind.


Diana Cline is a two-time Canadian Pizza magazine chef of the year, an internationally recognized gourmet pizzaiolo, owner of Diana’s Cucina & Lounge in Winnipeg, Man., and a director for the CRFA from 2009 to 2013. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is also a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating systems to run a pizzeria on autopilot, along with marketing and positioning to help operators grow their business effectively and strategically. She is available for consulting on a limited basis. For more information contact her at dianaslcline@gmail.com.


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