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Keeping the topping on the top

Lab trials develop a new approach to giving industrial pizza an artisanal feel

It’s hard to imagine a traditional pizza without its layer of tomato sauce. Nevertheless, whenever we buy a frozen or chilled pizza, we know that most of the sauce will have sunk into the base by the time it comes out of the oven, ready to eat.

Among the consumer trends we have followed in recent years is the quest for more artisanal-style foods – products that taste and feel freshly handmade even though they are produced on industrial lines.

In pizza, one way to achieve that sought-after quality is to ensure the individual layers – base, sauce, cheese and other toppings – keep their individuality all the way to the consumer.

A break with tradition
But how can you keep a tomato sauce on the pizza instead of in it? Our application specialists have worked on the question in the DuPont culinary lab. Here, we have come up with a new concept that completely breaks with tradition.

What we have done is change the starting point. So the sauce is no longer based on tomato but on a cheese emulsion to which the tomato is added.

This is not without technical challenges either, as a cheese sauce that is first chilled or frozen and then reheated will inevitably gain an unappealing ‘sandy’ texture due to the agglomeration of proteins. In addition, there is a risk that the fat content will leech out.

To solve this, we added a special blend of stabilisers and emulsifier that ensures the stability of the sauce over time and at high and low temperature.

The result is a tomato cheese sauce – comprising 25% cheese and 15% tomato puree – that stays on top of the pizza base from start to finish.

A noticeable difference
In our own sensory evaluation, the perception was that the overall flavour, mouthfeel and texture were enhanced when the tomato sauce was replaced with our tomato cheese concept. This was even the case when the pizza’s total cheese content was reduced – implying a potential cost-saving opportunity as well as a more artisan-style quality.

The tomato cheese sauce can be produced on the same equipment as a traditional tomato sauce. Get in touch if you’re interested in giving it a try.

We used GRINDSTED® Stabilizer System FF 3125 from the DuPont™ Danisco® range.