Author Topic: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?  (Read 14335 times)

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Offline pizzaJoe

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Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« on: October 24, 2007, 11:23:07 AM »
Hi,

Recently I noticed my favorite local pizza joint uses cubed cheese on their pizza.  I had always been shredding my cheese previously.  I was wondering if anyone knows of reasons for using one method over another?  I ask pertaining to ease of prep and final product texture/taste.

After I notice this, I started cubing my cheese.  I use a simple hand held cheese slicer (handle with wire and roller at end) to get uniformly thick (~1/4") slices and then use a serrated knife to cut into strips and ultimately cubes, each approximately 1/4" cubed.

I noticed two things:
  - to me, since I cook a lot and have become okay at using a knife to quickly slice things, this method seems much easier to me.  And, the cleanup seems easier, that is, I can get cheese muck off of my knife easier than I can my shredder.  And no more "down to the end of the cheese where it feels like I'm shredding my fingers" problem.
  - on the pizza, with cubed cheese I can pack more on than with shredded.  Also, I sort of believe that the cubes allow for the cheese and sauce to mix more and give that "red splotched" cheese look like the "Pizza Making" picture/icon at the top of this web page.  As for how much more cheese I can pack on, for a 10" pie I could only put somewhere between 3-4 oz of shredded cheese on a pie.  With cubed cheese I easily put on 5+ ounces without trouble.

Toppings are another issue.  With cubed cheese it appears to be an all-or-nothing scenario.  By that I mean either the toppings sit completely on top of the cheese or, because of how the cubes will melt, they will be completely covered with cheese.  Shredded cheese for example allowed me to partially cover toppings like pepperoni so that it's partially exposed.

I have no input on sliced cheese topping but would like to hear from anyone who does.

Any other opinions/observations/etc welcome.

Joe
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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2007, 12:26:56 PM »
Joe,

A lot of pizza operators use diced mozzarella cheese because it is easier to distribute over the pizza and they claim they can use less cheese as a result. The other day I bought a pizza from Domino's and saw the gal who made the pizza shake off some of the diced cheese after she had distributed it on my pizza. The cheese that remained on the pizza was the cheese that apparently stuck to itself and to the sauce. Pizza operators who use portioning cups (rather than free throwing) also say that the diced mozzarella cheese works better with the portioning cups than the shredded variety.

Peter

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2007, 12:31:45 PM »
Joe,

A lot of pizza operators use diced mozzarella cheese because it is easier to distribute over the pizza and they claim they can use less cheese as a result. The other day I bought a pizza from Domino's and saw the gal who made the pizza shake off some of the diced cheese after she had distributed it on my pizza. The cheese that remained on the pizza was the cheese that apparently stuck to itself and to the sauce. Pizza operators who use portioning cups (rather than free throwing) also say that the diced mozzarella cheese works better with the portioning cups than the shredded variety.

Peter

Hi Peter,

First off, thanks for the reply.  It makes sense.  I found it's easier to portion the cheese diced also.  Do you note any texture difference shredded vs diced?  Also, any input on why some people would just put sliced cheese on a pie?

But, I must say with all the great pizzas you post having made, what in the world are you doing buying a pizza from Dominoes?!?!?!?!?   :-D

Other experiences welcome!

Thanks.

Joe
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Offline scott r

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2007, 12:41:54 PM »
Joe, I too have switched to hand diced, but not to get more cheese on the pizza or for ease of use.  The pizzerias who use shredded mozzarella have a much larger shred than anything I have been able to get with a home cheese grater.  If you ever have a chance to check out the attachment that goes on the front of a commercial Hobart you will notice that the holes are very large. Also commercial pizzerias use the 6 pound loaves which tend to give longer strands than I get with one pound blocks from the grocery store.  It took me a while to figure this out, but when I am doing 550 degree pizzas I now dice my cheese to get closer to that larger size shred (or the dice) that commercial pizza operators use.  Since I have switched to the hand dice my cheese melts better, burns less, and even seems to taste better.

Offline scott r

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2007, 12:45:05 PM »
The slice thing works on the same principle.  I see it mostly at places that really cook their pies for a long time like pepe's in new haven.  The idea is that with the larger chunk or a slice there is less surface area avaiable to the scorching heat of the oven that can dry out or burn the cheese.   Of course it is also very easy to distribute slices, but I think that is just a side benefit.

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2007, 12:48:42 PM »
Since I have switched to the hand dice my cheese melts better, burns less, and even seems to taste better.

Scott,

Thanks for your reply!

I had also thought the taste was better but it just didn't seem to make sense to me (it's all the same cheese after all isn't it)  I even did side by side pies, one with shredded cheese and the other with diced.  I sort of half-convinced myself that it was the diced cheese interacted more with the sauce than the shredded cheese but that might have been the few beers I had talking...   ;D

About the shred from profession equipment vs home.  I noticed that a while ago too when I tried out using my food processor to shred my cheese.  It came out very much like vermicelli cheese so I went back to my hand grater/shredder for the thicker shred.  I still felt that wasn't doing it and was really swayed when I saw my local joint using diced cheese.

I, for one, am a convert now to diced only.   :D

Still curious about people who use sliced...

Joe
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Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2007, 12:50:47 PM »
I think I need to do a test of three pies, all cheese - one shredded, one diced and one sliced.   Hmmmm...  Yummie experiment.  I'll try to do it when I get the time and resources (and hungry people).   :chef:
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Offline November

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2007, 01:55:09 PM »
If anybody has an old fashion, hand-cranked meat grinder, I would be curious to know how well it would work grinding (extruding) blocks of cheese.  I'm picturing a kind of cheese sausage with a lot of surface area that you can spread around the pizza like pork sausage.  Taking it to the next logical step might include grinding the cheese with pizza seasonings, herb infused olive oil, or even the sauce itself to create a premixed topping you could store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  I know that some people like their cheese and sauce to commingle quite a bit, so this saves a separate application of sauce and cheese.  Digressing though, I'm mainly interested in how well the cheese would do in a meat grinder on its own.

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Offline enchant

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2007, 02:38:45 PM »
I like sliced mozzarella for a totally different reason.

I put a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella on my pizza.  With nothing but sauce on it, it's easy to evenly distribute the cheddar.  But the mozzarella is exactly the same color, and once I start spreading it in shredded form, I can't tell if I'm evenly distributing it.  But if I hand slice it, I can tell the difference between it and the cheddar.
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Offline yaddayaddayadda

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2007, 02:49:15 PM »
I prefer shredded, personally. 


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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2007, 02:56:37 PM »
Joe,

Cheese is an ongoing problem for me where I live and with my oven. To begin with, there are only two places near me where I can get whole-milk mozzarella cheese, which I believe holds up better in my oven without breaking down and oiling up my pizza or browning too much, especially for long bake times where I am trying to get a drier, crispier crust. One of the places where I can get whole-milk cheeses is at Wal-Mart, which carries the Wal-Mart Great Value brand of mozzarella cheese. I do not particularly like that brand because it breaks down too quickly in my oven and leaves an orange oil film on my pizza. It is also hard to shred or cut into slices or dice because it is too soft for that purpose. I can get a solid whole-milk mozzarella cheese in an Italian market in Dallas, but they don’t always have it in stock.

Because of the limited cheese choices in my area, I usually wait until I travel back East where I can get Grande and other good brands of whole-milk mozzarella cheese. I usually buy and bring back several pounds of whole-milk mozzarella cheeses, which I portion into roughly 6-ounce pieces, and freeze (in Deni suck-and-seal bags). As you noted in an early study you conducted on freezing cheese, if the cheese is used within a reasonable time frame, it will work well on pizzas. It may be a bit harder to shred because it can be on the crumbly side, but that is the price I have to pay. Maybe dicing it will work better.

I also use less cheese than most on my pizzas. That works against using long bake times, even at lower oven temperatures, because the mass of cheese is less and can cook too quickly. To compensate, I will sometimes use either cold cheese, larger pieces or chunks of cheese (which are likely to melt more slowly), or “shards” of cheese, which are very large shreds produced by using the curved, larger cutting edge of my box grater. I got the idea for the shards of cheese after seeing Dom DeMarco at DiFara’s use his grater to do this. The only time that I have used diced cheese is where I have bought the cheese in slices from the deli section at the supermarket, such as a Boar’s Head whole-milk mozzarella cheese, and diced it to make it easier to use on my pizzas. I can’t say that I noticed a big difference over shredded cheese, although I liked the quality and taste of the Boar’s Head brand of mozzarella.

As you can see, for me the particular form of the mozzarella cheese that I use is geared more to adapting the cheese to my oven and the types of pizzas I am trying to make. As an example, I have recently been experimenting with making cracker-style pizzas. In my oven, that means having to use a long bake time to get the degree of crispiness and cracker quality I am after, whether I pre-bake the crusts or not. Keeping the cheeses from breaking down is one of my biggest problems, requiring me to spend as much time thinking about how to use the cheeses as how to get the best crust. The Domino’s pizza that I purchased, which is shown at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5173.msg48331.html#msg48331 (Reply 27), was to have an example of a commercial cracker crust to compare mine against. The Domino’s pizza took about 6-7 minutes to bake in the Domino’s Middleby Marshall conveyor oven and, as the photo shows, the cheese (diced) did not break down. In my oven, even with a pre-baked crust, it will take longer than 6-7 minutes to bake my pizza and the cheese won’t hold up as well. The solution may lie in the size and shape that the cheese takes, as alluded to by scott r, but it may also lie in the temperature of the cheese or possibly even putting the cheese under the sauce rather than on top of it.

Peter

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2007, 03:08:23 PM »
Seeing November's post reminded me of another cheese form he described in an earlier post--crumbled. See http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4092.msg34176/topicseen.html#msg34176 (Reply 2) November also proposed a unique way of macerating sliced cheese with a docking tool to improve its performance on a pizza. I also saw in an earlier post in the same thread that I used a diced cheese blend to make a Little Caesar's clone pizza, which prompted November's post referenced above.

Peter

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2007, 04:18:35 PM »
Still curious about people who use sliced...

Joe,

As I was looking at dough recipes to use to make more cracker style pizzas, I came across the following one by Tom Lehmann: http://www.pizzamaking.com/lehmann_crackerstyle.php. As you will note at the end of the instructions, Tom calls for putting slices of mozzarella cheese onto the dough skin. Interestingly, the cheese slices go down first and the sauce and topping go on top. Whether putting the cheese down before the sauce is to protect the cheese is hard to say, although I plan to try that approach sometime, as I alluded to in an earlier post. It may well be that Tom is simply following the deep-dish practice of putting slices down before the sauce. Pizza operators who make the Chicago deep-dish style frequently make the Chicago cracker style also, so using the cheese in the same form (slices) to make the cracker style makes a lot of sense. 

Peter

Offline November

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2007, 05:10:56 PM »
Whether putting the cheese down before the sauce is to protect the cheese is hard to say

Is it not conceivable that the cheese is going down first to protect the crust from absorbing the liquid from the sauce?

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2007, 05:39:54 PM »
November,

LOL...You are absolutely right. Slices would work best for that purpose, as I suspect it does for the deep-dish style also. As you know, I have been oiling my pre-baked crusts before putting the sauce down, so I wasn't thinking of the possibility you mentioned.

Peter

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2007, 05:49:31 PM »
This forum is great!  The amount of info, knowledge and experience passed on is just fantastic.   :chef:

As for sliced, I am going to try it out.  However, I'm going to be very careful about the thickness of the slice and placement on the sauced dough.  I say that because I found that if I put a little too much diced cheese on a pizza too close to the edge, it would run over the side and on to my stone.  That actually was a surprise to me because, one, the cheese didn't stick to my stone but sortof burnt just a little and, two, made for an excellent cheesy pizza (sort of like a Celeste cheese pizza on Grande steroids  :))

As for putting the cheese on first and then the sauce, I tried that on a few cracker crusts pizzas that I made a while back and was less than impressed.  The cheese sealed in between the dough/crust and the sauce tasted a little rubbery and was not to my liking.  I'm sure it had to do with some aspect of my prep work but I'm not sure.

Peter,
That's really too bad that you can not get good cheese in your area!  I can get Grande in 7lb loaves for as little as $3/lb as noted in another thread.  However, I've noticed that supplier bought a very, VERY large quantity such that even six months after my first purchase, I was still getting cheese with a "born on" date that was six months old.  But, when I'm hurting for cheese, I can always pay $6/lb at WF for Grande or use Polly-0 or BelGioioso for $3/lb from one of my local supermarkets - Polly-O being my least favorite.  Man, CA cheese has nothing on WI cheese (Grande/BelGioioso)!   ;D

Joe
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Offline dms

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2007, 12:02:31 AM »
J The only time that I have used diced cheese is where I have bought the cheese in slices from the deli section at the supermarket, such as a Boar’s Head whole-milk mozzarella cheese, and diced it to make it easier to use on my pizzas. I can’t say that I noticed a big difference over shredded cheese, although I liked the quality and taste of the Boar’s Head brand of mozzarella.


Pete, most supermarket delis will happily sell you an unsliced chunk of cheese.  If they're like mine, they'll be a little confused by the request, but they'll do it. 

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2007, 12:21:12 AM »
Pete, most supermarket delis will happily sell you an unsliced chunk of cheese.  If they're like mine, they'll be a little confused by the request, but they'll do it. 

dms,

The bigger problem is that none of the supermarket delis near me sell a whole-milk mozzarella cheese. Some don't sell any mozzarella cheese in the dairy case. I have to go into Dallas to my favorite Italian market, which is the only place I have found in Dallas that sells the whole-milk mozzarella cheese. I can usually find the part-skim cheese in supermarket delis but it is almost always an unknown brand. The Boar's Head cheese I mentioned I found back East.

Peter

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2007, 09:34:33 AM »
Re-reading through the posts over this morning's coffee, thanks for the pointer Peter, I will have to try November's "crumbling method"!  I own a docker.  Funny story, I got it at a smaller-ish food supply store where the person selling it to me thought it was some kind of massage item.   :-D  I didn't think anything could be easier than how I was cubing the cheese but the docker trick might be it.
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Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: Cheese: sliced, cubed or shredded?
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2007, 09:41:07 AM »
I like sliced mozzarella for a totally different reason.

I put a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella on my pizza.  With nothing but sauce on it, it's easy to evenly distribute the cheddar.  But the mozzarella is exactly the same color, and once I start spreading it in shredded form, I can't tell if I'm evenly distributing it.  But if I hand slice it, I can tell the difference between it and the cheddar.

enchant,

Your post intrigued me.  Since I also quite often do cheese mixes myself (kids love 'em, wife is mozz only), I have a question.  How do you ensure that you will not get "pockets" of all mozz or all cheddar when your put slices on?  I'm asking about the placement of the slices.  Do you do a "one, then the other" placement or do you do "one on top of the other".  If the latter, do you alternate which cheese goes on top?

In practice, how I do my mixes is as I'm dicing the cheese, say provo and mozz, I'll dice a slice of mozz then a small portion of provo and repeat.  After I dice each cheese, I put it into an oversized bowl.  When I'm done dicing, I hand mix the cheese a bit followed by tightly covering the bowl with wrap and shaking.  Seems to work for me.   :pizza:
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