Ever since its appearance, the cheese stuffed crust has been overwhelmingly popular – and for good reason. You remember it like it was yesterday, you were watching your favorite TV show and next thing you knew a delicious looking pizza appeared on screen. A slice was cut and pulled from the pie only to reveal a secret cache of perfectly melted glistening cheese spilling from the crust. Next thing you knew you were drooling on the remote control and your stomach was rumbling louder than a freight train. You knew at that point there was only one possible outcome: you had to have one! Normally, this is where you’d pick up the phone and order, but today we’re going to do the cheese crust justice and show you how to make it yourself.
It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy
It might not be rocket science, but creating the perfect cheese crust isn’t as easy as you think. To create the perfect cheese tunnel around the perimeter of your pizza, it takes some thinking outside the (delivery) box. Why can’t you just take some plain old shredded mozzarella, stick it into the crust, make a few quick folds and be done with it? Because there are a few things to take into careful consideration: folding the crust over the cheese can be tricky, and the cheese has the potential of drying out as it cooks inside the crust. But there’s no need to worry because after a bit of experimenting we've already done the ground work for you.
Cut it, Don’t Shred it
Part of the problem in making a cheese stuffed crust starts with shredded mozzarella. If you shred the cheese, it’s going to melt a little too quickly. You want the cheese inside the crust to melt somewhat slowly, because depending on how you’re cooking the pizza, you've got at least 5, but up to 12 minutes (or more) before the rest of the pizza is cooked. Let’s say you've put some shredded cheese inside the crust. Two to three minutes in, the cheese melts, and about three to five minutes in the fat and moisture (a.k.a. “all that wonderful cheesy flavor”) begins to render out. At this point the cheese turns into a dense, plastic-like residue that resembles nothing of its former self.
Just Fold it, Right?
Wrong. The fold takes a little practice too – mainly to keep the cheese where it’s supposed to be. If you don’t properly seal the crust after folding it over, chances are as it bakes your pizza will rise and the crust will pull apart releasing all that precious melted mozzarella right back into the rest of the pizza. While it wouldn't be the end of the world, it certainly isn't our objective here. We want to make a pizza with a crust that no one throws away, not even the kids!
Ready, Set, Cheese!
So now that we've discussed what not to do, let’s take a look at the best way to make our stuffed cheese crust pizza. You’ll need the following:
- 8-10 oz. pizza dough
- ½ lb high moisture or fresh mozzarella, cut into strips (this is for stuffing the crust)
- 4 oz. pizza sauce
- 6-8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated (this is what you would normally put on the pizza)
- Your favorite assortment of pizza toppings
- Begin by flattening and stretching out your pizza dough. You’ll want to stretch the dough approximately an inch larger in diameter than you normally would, to allow room for the cheese to be placed in the crust. To make a 12-inch pizza, you’ll need to stretch the dough out to at least 13-13.5”.
- Cut the high moisture (or fresh) mozzarella into ½” x 2” strips. Place each piece at the edge of the dough, with enough space to be able to fold the dough back over the cheese. Begin braiding the dough over the cheese, pressing firmly each time you fold the dough over.
Once you've got all of the cheese folded into the crust, use a dough docker to finish sealing the dough you folded over. This will help keep the crust from unfolding, helping to the cheese to stay in place. After you've used the docker, continue making your pizza as normal.