When do you cheese your pizza? Do you throw it on top at the start or do you par bake the crust before adding the cheese? Does it make a difference? Let's find out.
The first thought I have when constructing a pizza is what is the cheese melt-a-bility. Will it brown prematurely? Creating a beautiful and tasty pizza only to find you have burned the cheese, ouch.
Here are a couple of rules I live by when making pizza with cheese. First up, I recommend using whole milk low moisture mozzarella. Why? It tends to spread and melt more evenly. For these tests, I used Whole Food's 365 brand. Another rule we all must follow is to shred your own cheese. When we purchase pre-packaged shredded cheese we are purchasing not just the cheese, but a starch that is coated to keep those little buggers from sticking. This will cause the cheese to brown very early in the cooking process, not ideal, visually appealing or tasty. Once you have shredded your cheese, place it in the freezer for 30 minutes. The idea is to slow the cooking process with the frozen cheese, your cheese won't brown as quickly. I learned this trick from our friend Kenji at Serious Eats
Now let's find out what happens when you cheese your pizza for a whole bake vs a partial bake. For both pizzas we used the broiler method. That is a four minute bake on convection, followed by 2 minutes under the broiler. Our secret weapon, the Baking Steel was placed on the top shelf and the oven was hot and ready at 500 F.
The Full Bake
Are you a shredder? I highly recommend shredding your own cheese.
The cheese has been shredded, going to place this in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to topping on the dough.
Topped the frozen cheese onto the pizza. This one is ready to launch onto a 500 degree Baking Steel.
After a 6 minute bake, too much browning for you?
The Par Bake
Stretch the dough, distribute the tomato sauce and launch for 4 minutes.
After adding the cheese mid-bake the cheese is clearly creamy and not as browned.
Which do you prefer?
Which is the winner? To be honest, I'm not sure I have an answer. One tasted creamier (the par bake) while the other tasted more caramelized (full bake). Both were good, both impressed. It's a personal preference, what is yours?