The Dough Doctor talks salt, breakfast pizza
Q: We are thinking about opening earlier in the morning to get in on some of the breakfast trade. Do you have any suggestions as to what we could make that would be well accepted?
A: While some stores make smaller, individual-sized pizza topped with ham, bacon, breakfast sausage, cheddar cheese, rehydrated potato slices, red and green peppers, onion and mushroom –– some even add an egg or two on top of the pizza –– this is still a lot of work. It takes time that precious few people are willing to part with during the early morning hours. The name of the breakfast game is hot, tasty and fast with an added bonus if it is easy to eat and can be eaten on the run or while commuting on public transportation. The one thing that we can make that fits perfectly into that description is a breakfast calzone. They’re easy to make, hold up well and offer a fast turnover as they can be held under heat lamps while awaiting sale. No special dough is required as we can use our regular pizza dough.
To begin, scale your dough into 4-ounce pieces for a 7-inch calzone. Form each dough piece into a ball and place into dough boxes, wipe the top of each dough ball with salad oil and cross stack in the cooler for one hour. Then down stack and cover or nest the boxes. The dough balls will keep in the cooler for up to three or more days.
To use the dough balls, remove dough balls from the cooler, leaving them covered, and allow to temper at room temperature until they reach 50 F. When the dough balls have reached 50 F, begin rolling the dough into circles, use your sheeter/dough roller if you have one, or you can do it manually using a rolling pin or pie pin. Open each dough piece into a 7 to 7½-inch diameter circle, lightly wet the edge of the dough with water, add desired filling (precooked scrambled eggs go great here), and fold over to form a calzone. Tightly press the edge to crimp it and brush the surface lightly with melted butter or butter flavored oil. Allow the formed calzones to rest for about 5 minutes before placing onto screens for baking.
The breakfast calzones can usually be baked at the same temperature as your regular pizzas, but you might need to adjust the baking time slightly. As soon as the calzones exit the oven, place into paper sleeves and store under heat lamps to hold for sale. These breakfast calzones are great when sold with a 12-ounce cup of coffee for a set price. Since the calzones will only be offered during the early morning hours, I have found it convenient to use a part-time crew to work the “breakfast shift.”
Q: We occasionally get a request for a pizza without any added salt, but since we put the salt in the dough and in the sauce, plus the cheese is already salted, there isn’t anything we can do. If we were to try to do something, what would you suggest?
A: As pizza continues to evolve and our population ages, we seem to be getting more and more requests for pizzas to address specific health concerns. For example, a hot topic a few years ago was low-carbohydrate pizza, and now it’s gluten free. Who knows what it will be next?
Amongst all of these trends, we continually get requests for low sodium and low cholesterol pizzas. The quest for low sodium has been going on for more than 40 years now, and it continues to evolve with new and improved products being offered allowing us to develop products with both taste and functionality at lower sodium levels than previously possible.
The newest approach to sodium reduction centers around some of the latest encapsulation technology. This is where the ingredients are modified and coated in a proprietary manner so as not to have the metallic taste so often associated with some of the other reduced sodium salt substitutes. This product is readily available as a sea salt blend with 70 percent less sodium than table salt. When used at your normal salt level in the dough or sauce it will provide a 70-percent reduction in total added sodium content without negatively impacting the finished flavor. When combined with a reduction in level, an even greater sodium reduction can be achieved.
As there isn’t much that you can do about the salt that is already in the cheese, we have found that by using fresh basil as opposed to dried basil on the pizza, we can get away using a reduced amount of high quality, whole milk mozzarella or provolone cheese. In most cases, the reduction in cheese level is around 30 to 40 percent while still retaining a desirable cheese flavor and appearance along with the commensurate reduction in sodium.
Following these guidelines you should be able to accomplish a 40- to 50-percent reduction in added sodium content to your pizzas. As a cautionary note, I would advise against advertising these pizzas as a low or reduced sodium pizza as that would most likely be construed as a medical claim and could have unexpected ramifications. Instead, I would suggest that you simply state the facts, such as for those customers wishing a pizza with less added sodium than our regular pizzas we are pleased to offer pizzas made using a 70-percent reduced sodium content salt in the dough and sauce with a special cheese topping. You could then follow this up with a statement to the following: “Samples of this pizza have been determined to contain approximately XXX milligrams of sodium.” The only down side to all of this is that you will need to inventory a quantity of special, sodium reduced dough and sauce and keep them correctly identified so they don’t become confused with your regular dough and sauce.
While discussing “healthy” pizzas you can also offer your customers a pizza with 50-percent less cholesterol than your regular pizzas (assuming a cheese pizza only). This is easily accomplished by using a 50/50 blend of your regular cheese with a cholesterol free tofu-based cheese analog. While these were once referred to as nothing more than melted plastic on a pizza, the newer versions are much better and exhibit pretty decent melt properties, and when combined with your regular cheese as a 50/50 blend, it can make for a pretty decent pizza if reduced cholesterol is what you are looking for in a pizza.
Tom Lehmann is a former director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas and Pizza Today’s resident dough expert.