Gum line revisited

So, wife and I are giving a pizza place a second try. The first was a neutral visit with disinterested service and middling food. They are trying to make it, so we figured another shot is in order (NOT the redpepper sauce place).

Two prominent features I want to inquire about to the learned massed here. One was the crust texture; it was almost biscuitlike in structure. There were almost peelable layers to the crust, like it had been laminated. It was a pleasant result, and was quite tender inside, and nearly crunchy on outside. How does one get a layered, biscuit-like crust like that? I am not likely to emulate it, but it is nagging my brain to figure it out. Maybe cut in solid fat like a pie crust?

SECOND was a huge, honking gum line. It was actually variable from piece to piece of the pizza, but a definite line. Is it any different with the above-described crust? Or likely just the usual suspects of dough hydration levels, cooking temps, sauce moisture levels, etc.? I have a picture of one piece that I cut the point off of, and the crust is like 3/8" thick with a crackerlike thin bottom, a somewhat cooked top by sauce, and the rest in between a gelled, semi-cooked and dense layer. . . gum line . . . gum layer.

Sounds to me like they made the roll up early and it sat all day. Have cooked off some left over rollups before to bring a pie home for me instead of throwing roll up away. Sounds just like it. LOL :mrgreen:

I certainly wouldn’t make it my signature crust. LOL

The easiest way th get that layered characteristic is to make your dough in the same manner as you would a biscuit dough, or a pie crust. That is by undermixing. This is a type of crust that we demonstrate at our annual pizza seminar as well as at the NAPICS (Columbus, Ohio pizza show) Put the water in the mixing bowl first, then add the yeast (if using compressed yeast, be sure to suspend it in the water. If using IDY or ADY, be sure to prehydrate it and then add it to the water, add the oil to the water at this time too. Add roughly half of the flour, and then add sugar and salt, then add the remainder of the flour. Mix the ingredients together at low speed for approximately 45 to 75-seconds. The resulting “dough” will have a very “shaggy” appearance. There will be a lot of dry flour present. Think of the way a pie dough of biscuit dough looks, this is roughly what the pizza dough should now be looking like. Remove dough from bowl, and begin pressing it into pucks (just like a pie dough) of a weight several ounces heavier that what your actual dough skin will weigh. Bag or box the dough and allow to hydrate overnight in the cooler. On the following day, pass the dough through a sheeter several times reducing the dough to about 1/8-inch in thickness, trim the dough piece to the correct diameter, dress and bake as normal. That gum line, didi you see it where the crust was cut, or did you tear the crust apart and see it then? You can create a “false gum line” simply by cutting the crust, but by tearing the crust, you get to see the real thing. If you don’t see the gum line when you tear the crust, you don’t have a true gum line and you need to look at something else as the culprit, but if you get it when you tear the crust, then we can set about to correct it as a gum line, and all of the normal fixes come to play. Gotta know what it is first though.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks Tom and Kris.
The details on the crust are certainly interesting and enlightening. Not my cup o’ lambrusco, but well worth the knowledge. I admit I forgot about the tearing versus cutting. You’ve taught us that numerous times over the years, and I don’t think I did tear it for inspection this time. I took some close-up pics of the slices that I’ll look at again. I do know that it looked gummy right off the serving pan . . . and when I cut a piece off with my fork . . . no memory of a tear.

So, knowing that the same general fixes would apply to this dough variant is useful. Gum lines seem all to common in my part of the world in the last year. Probably half the pizza places we have tried have had a very definite gum line and not the “false” one you mentioned. I am suspecting the “false” gum line happens as the cutter basically ‘stretches’ the moistened layer closest to the sauce down over the edge of the slice?

You are correct, that is the most common way that a false gum line is created. Another way it can be created is by comptessing the dough as the cutter moves over the top of the pizza. Doughs that are high in oil content are typically softer than lean doughs (low in oil content), as a result, they are more prone to compressing damage during cutting. So, if high oil content doughs are all the rage in your neck-o-the woods, this might explain why you tend to see this so often. Also, remembering that oil is known as a “tenderizer” it makes the dough more tender, as well as giving the finished crust a more tender eating characteristic, as a result, depending upon the type and amount of toppings used on the pizza(s), you can get some collapse, especially in the center of the pizza, which results in a wonderful gum line.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

I’m going to display my ignorance here, but our thin crust has that type of texture. Though we didn’t set out to “undermix” our dough, it is what we do.

We use a very low hydration dough (34% H20 3% oil). We barely mix the dough. HOWEVER, we do not portion that dough. It goes into a cambro and rises at “room temperature”. We pull it out and sheet it to 1/8". It gives us a thin layered crust. Because of the variation in “room temperature/humidity” it’s hard to keep our dough consistent. We can control the net effect by adjusting the final sheeting height…

As for gumlines, we bake at 550 on a deck oven. We use 50% 6-in-1 cut with stanislaus fully prepared pizza sauce (and our own spices) and do not have a gumline issue. I think it’s the speed of our pizzas that eliminate the gumline in our pizzas.

We also sell a “double-stack” for $1.00 more. We just dock two thin skins together. The crust stays crispy on the outside but rises a bit more and is a little flakier. It can, on occasion, develop a gumline. I suspect it is because the thicker crust requires a slightly longer bake time…

Patrick Cuezze

You’re probably right about the occasional gum line with your “double stack” crust. At the very low dough absorption that you are using, the dough would be quite stiff, and any excessive thickness of the dough could pose a problem in getting the dough to rise sufficiently to achieve a thorough bake. You might experiment with making a few doughs with increasing absorption levels. I’m betting that as you approach 45% absorption, you will find that you dough begins to rise better, making a lighter, flakier, and crispier finished crust, and it should also help those double stacks too.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

On reviewing my admittedly low resolution pics, this appears to be a classic gum line/layer. That crust is something like 3/4" thick with the brown then white, crunchy layer and the gelled looking middle layer followed by the (partially cheese obscured) top layer.

This one poorly shows it as well, on a different pie same order. The middle third of the pie is lots of gummy layers. I recall the separate layers in the cooked parts, then the other part not so much.

I am trying to find a way to approach this operator successfully to pitch a way for me to address this sort of thing for the betterment of his operation . . . without coming across as “Hey, your pizza sux, and I’m here to tell you how to fix it”. His product is about average or so . . . but with small changes, it could be exceptional. It is maybe a possible consulting sort of opportunity as they’ve had some unfortunate stuff over the last several months in start-up. I’d like to be a give-back what I’ve learned guy . . . with lots of disclaimers and credits to the ones who taught me.