While thinking of possible ways to reduce “soggy pizza middle syndrome” – the inevitable result of a home baker using too many wet ingredients, or possibly not having dialed in the perfect time and temperature for your home oven, I asked myself, what other solutions could possibly help this problem?
My brain came up with these basic solutions:
- Reduce moisture by draining tomatoes & other wet ingredients
Okay, that’s pretty easy. What else?
- Absorb excess moisture with corn starch or semolina
Yeah, that’s pretty good – it keeps the moisture in the pizza, but then it’s manageable. Any more ideas?
- Eliminate the middle
Wait… what was that last one?!
Eliminate the middle? But how?
“What would happen if I tried to make a donut shaped deep dish pizza?”
This is what happened: [see photos below]
Donut Shaped Deep Dish Pizza with Berry Cobbler – 8-21-2021
The original plan was to use a batch of dough made for a 12″ regular deep dish and use it for a donut shaped pizza in a 14 inch pan, but after doing some math,
(area of a circle minus the area of a smaller circle – YES! Actual real world use of π r2 !!!)
I correctly determined it would be better to just use a 12 inch pan after realizing I’d still need to reserve dough for the inner circle wall. I used a 500ml (16oz) corningware ramekin, which is about 5 inches in diameter.
My plan was solid, but a second thought happened:
Could I use that ramekin to bake something else at the same time?
Yes. I just needed to find the right thing that would be able to bake at roughly the same time and temperature.
A dessert maybe – I looked for dessert recipes that bake at roughly 425 degrees F, which also contained ingredients I had on hand. I discovered a bazillion chocolate lava cake recipes are available that would probably work here too, but I settled for a berry cobbler recipe this time around.
Cobblers are pretty easy: Grease the inside of your ramekin, add a little of your dry topping or crumble (or flour or cornstarch) to the bottom/sides to reduce sticking, drop in some berries (I used frozen), a little sugar if you like it sweeter (I didn’t use any this time), then top with your cobbler batter, crumble mix, or pie dough. Many recipes use a lot of butter – I didn’t use any this time. If you have enough berries, you’ll see when the cobbler is bubbling, and if that happens and the topping is golden, your cobbler is pretty much done.
For the pizza, I took my prepared dough and made it into a donut-shaped ring, then pressed it out and up the sides of the pan and the outer wall of the ramekin. I used about 12 oz of sliced mozzarella for the overlapping ring of cheese, about 10 oz of italian sausage, and approximately 24 slices of pepperoni. I drained a little over 8 oz of water from a 28 fluid oz can of “special cut” tomatoes (tomato strips in puree), of which I used more than half of the remaining 20 oz. I added a handful of frozen bell pepper strips on top.
The cobbler used frozen blackberries (I’ll use blueberries next time) which I was a little too light on because I didn’t want it to bubble over into the pizza – next time I will use more. Because this was a last minute thing, the cobbler topping was a modified Kodiak Cakes Flapjack and Waffle mix with water, milk, egg and some cinnamon, which I will use less of next time (or possibly replace entirely with a home made crumble topping). It came out more like a blackberry muffin – not bad, but I will do better next time. Pizza and cobbler were placed in the oven on a 500F preheated stone, which was immediately turned down to 440 F for the bake at 35 minutes, then I took out the cobbler, and put the pizza back in for 5 more minutes to get some more color on the inside pizza crust ring. Overall this was a really good test run. The hardest part was pressing out the dough and getting the sidewalls up on the ramekin while keeping it centered.
If you’d like to see my original post from the day of the bake, you can find it on the RDD Facebook page – click here.