Ah, cheese. Nectar from the heavens. There’s nothing better on a pizza than perfectly melted cheese. However sometime a nightmare situation may erupt, and you need to avoid burnt cheese on pizza.
As a pizza maker, it’s vital to save the bottom of your pizza from burning to make it delicious. The presence of high moisture content in the pizza releases more than enough heat when the bottom is burnt. Whether you are significantly skilled at it or just a beginner, your probability of facing this issue is significant if you don’t have the right knowledge.
In order to help you in this regard, here we are with common reasons behind burnt cheese pizza and the ways to avoid it.
Why does it happen?
There are several reasons why you get burnt cheese on pizza. Knowing the reasons behind this incident will certainly help you avoid this mistake in the first place.
Though there is a large number of reasons behind it but we are mentioning the most common ones. Let us first discuss the reasons before we jump into the solutions.
Inappropriate baking time or temperature
There are mainly two reasons behind the burnt cheese on pizza situation. The first is because of setting inappropriate temperatures and the second is cooking for more than the required time.
Many people find that their cheese starts burning before the crust is cooked properly. That is simply because they are not cooking as per the requirements of the cheese type.
Talking about the requirements for different cheese types is way beyond the scope of this article. You can avoid this situation by knowing more about the cheese type before you start baking.
On the other hand, some people end up burning the crust. You can avoid that by reducing the amount of flour in the dough. Too cold dough leads to the same results as well.
Since we are done with the most common reasons behind this issue, it is time to focus on the ways to avoid it.
Different types of cheese
Did you know that different types of cheeses will melt and burn at different temperatures?
For example, typical cheese starts to melt at around 90° F (32° C) when the milk fat starts to liquify. As the temperature increases, the bonds between the casein break and the cheese collapses into a thick fluid. But the actual melting temperature can vary depending on the cheese. It can happen anywhere between 130 to 180° F (55° to 82° Celsius).
And get this, different factors can affect the melting temperature too. Like moisture content – the more moisture, the lower the melting temperature and the better the flow. Or the age of the cheese – if the cheese is older, the casein molecules can be more rigid and less flexible.
Also, the fat content and acidity can play a role too. A high fat content helps with the melting process, but acidity works against it.
So there you have it, a variety of factors can impact the melting process, but in general, a good melting cheese will have high fat and moisture content and low acidity.
Tips to avoid burnt cheese on pizza
So we want to melt the cheese perfectly, and maybe even brown it a little (like the image above), yet we don’t want it to end up burnt and yuck (like the below image). SO how do we avoid burnt cheese on pizza? The following tips may help.
Mind the ingredients
There can’t be a single set of rules to protect every kind of pizza. Since there are several types of pizza enjoyed by different people, the ingredients for these pizzas also differ from one another. In case you are following some recipes, make sure you are choosing the ingredients precisely.
You will need a quite different procedure for different flours and the same goes for other ingredients as well. To avoid burnt cheese on pizza, always make sure you are well aware of the temperature requirements of all of your ingredients, not just the pizza.
Use 00 flour if possible
Though many people choose bread flour for this purpose and that works well in many cases. But you can get even better results with 00 flour especially when you are making Neapolitan-style pizza.
This flour is finely ground and contains high gluten. Achieving light texture and saving the cheese from burning side by side becomes easy with 00 flour.
Don’t forget the preheat the oven
Preheating the oven is a prerequisite to avoid burnt cheese on pizza, and there is no substitute for this step. With a preheated oven, you are making sure the dough and other components go from cold to hot condition in the best way.
Getting a crispy crust with perfectly cooked cheese becomes more viable in a properly preheated oven.
Always use a pizza stone
Professionals use ovens that are made especially for baking pizzas. That is something missing from our household. But we all want highly delicious pizzas right in our homes. With an ordinary oven, heating the pizza evenly from all sides becomes a challenge. But you can tackle the challenge easily with a pizza stone. The crust and the cheese need to be cooked together. If there is not enough heat from the bottom, the cheese will get burnt before the crust is even done.
Having a pizza stone ensures your pizza is getting the required heat from all sides and comes out crispy, and helps avoid burnt cheese on pizza. Don’t forget to preheat the stone before putting the dough on it. Pizza stones are designed to absorb heat quickly and retain this heat for a longer duration. Hence they offer just what you want for your pizza at home.
Refrain from using thick toppings
Thick toppings don’t get cooked evenly which results in burnt cheese on pizza and it ends up burning the crust sometimes as well. Many people prefer more toppings. They should simply thinly slice or chop (if possible) the toppings before putting them on top of the pizza.
Give the toppings a quick fry beforehand to make cooking even easier. This way you will juice out enough moisture from them and save the cheese from burning while you cook.
Try using Ricotta if you prefer
A lot of things depend on the type of cheese as we have discussed already. Choosing a cheese that is more resistant to heat would help you as an amateur. As it happens, Ricotta is the best option in such cases. Ricotta contains a specific protein that increases its heat resistance. Luckily, it is widely used and tastes great as well. Preferring it over mozzarella will simplify things for sure.
For those who want to go with mozzarella only, there are some things worth doing. First, use fresh mozzarella only. It is very important to squeeze out excess water from the mozzarella. Do it by cutting the mozzarella into blocks of your preferred size. Place those blocks on the pizza only after you have shaken off the water from it.
We have talked much about the ways to avoid burnt cheese on pizza. Incorporating these points while cooking will decrease your chances of facing such an issue. The good news is avoiding it is not that difficult.
Preheating the oven, having a pizza stone, working according to the ingredients, etc. are a few simple tips that will help you get the best results. We hope this article served the purpose of helping you know the right ways.