Recently, I took a first stab at making a “take-and-bake” version of the Lehmann NY style dough. I was not looking to make a take-and-bake pizza per se, but rather I was hoping to achieve one or both of the following objectives: 1) To be able to make one or more pizza rounds (“skins”) one of more days in advance, and to refrigerate them until used; and 2) to take the skins a step further and make fully-dressed, unbaked pizzas that can be transported to someone else’s place to be baked rather than in my own oven and without requiring a pizza stone or tiles or a peel (although in my case I might bring my peel to be on the safe side).
After having read about the take-and-bake industry and the ways that doughs are commonly formulated to allow transport of unbaked, fully-dressed pizzas from the take-and-bake shop or independent’s pizzeria to the consumer’s home, I concluded that possibly the take-and-bake approach was the way to accomplish the above objectives, and particularly the second objective.
So, I reformulated the basic Lehmann NY style dough to reflect the dough chemistry and physics that take-and-bake doughs seem to rely on for their success. What especially intrigued me is that take-and-bake pizzas are “designed” to permit the consumer to bake them in the consumer’s oven without the need for a pizza stone/tiles or peel. Typically, the pizza is baked on the center oven rack position, at an oven temperature of 425 degrees F, for about 10-18 minutes. A carrier, in the form of either a tray (such as a Pactiv brand take-and-bake tray) or a cardboard/parchment paper combination, is used to facilitate the loading of the pizza into the oven. Since I don’t have access to Pactiv trays (they are sold to professionals), I elected to use a homemade version that I fabricated from cardboard and parchment paper.
Being a novice at this sort of thing, I reformulated the Lehmann dough as best I could based on what I had learned, I made a skin (16-inches), placed it on the parchment paper/cardboard arrangement, placed the entire assembly (covered with plastic wrap) in the refrigerator for about a day, removed the plastic wrap, dressed the pizza (in a simple pepperoni style), and baked it. I even let the dressed pizza sit on my countertop, covered with plastic wrap, for about an hour before baking, to simulate the travel of the pizza from one point to another. The pizza was baked on the center oven rack of my oven, which had been preheated to 425 degrees F, for about 12 minutes. The pizza sagged at the side edges at the beginning, so it is something I will have to work on in my future attempts to make a better take-and-bake pizza. Maybe I can even get a few Pactiv trays to play around with.
The photos below show the finished Lehmann “take-and-bake” pizza. This is one of those cases where the photo belies the actual results. The pizza was better than the photos indicate. The finished pizza was quite delicious, with a thin, tasty crust, good crust color (top and bottom), and a reasonably decent crumb. It was also very chewy at the rim and crispy. If anything, the crust was too thin and crispy and, for me, a bit too chewy, and quite different overall from the normal Lehmann NY style pizzas I have made. However, in due course I hope to improve the formulation to deal with these issues. What I did learn, however, is that it is possible to make unbaked skins and refrigerate them for at least a day before using them, and possibly longer, and also to make an unbaked, fully-dressed pizza using such a skin that can travel to another location for baking in a standard home oven, at normal oven temperatures, and without requiring a pizza stone/tiles or a peel. More work needs to be done but that sounds pretty good to me for a start.