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After reading the advice about tomato sauce in this answer, I decided to try straining the sauce to remove water and see what it did to the crust.

I let the water drain out of a jar of tomato sauce by leaving it in a cheesecloth-lined colander. The sauce went down to almost half its volume, and I had to trowel it on the crust almost like spackle.

As usual, I used a pizza stone, and an oven that at about 500°F. The pizza takes about 7 or 8 minutes to cook, like this, rotating it twice in that time. I don't pre-heat the crust.

For this pizza, I used supermarket whole-wheat pizza dough (Stop and Shop makes a wonderful dough, incidentally), half-skim mozzarella, Barilla marinara sauce, fresh basil, and sauteed mushrooms and garlic. The pizza was delicious! The crust was thicker than usual, and lighter.

It seemed to me that the cheese was, for want of a better description, a bit looser than it usually was, and had a tendency to slide off the rest of the slice when you took a bite.

If I repeat this (and I will), I'll likely use even more of the same, strained sauce, since I got some requests for "more sauce, please, I could barely taste it." How can I "anchor" the cheese a bit? Mix a little cheese in with the sauce so it'll grab ahold of the cheese? Pre-bake the crust with sauce on it for a minute or two? (I'm not sure what that would do.) A staple gun, perhaps?

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The recipe I gave in the answer to which you link is based off of a fresh sauce created by puréeing a can of diced tomatoes, liquid and all. That creates a very watery sauce which I then strain to about half volume. The sauce resulting from that recipe is chunkier than a typical store bought sauce, however, its overall consistency is only slightly thicker, if that. –  ESultanik Mar 20 '13 at 15:58

2 Answers 2

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If you have to trowel the sauce on the crust it is too thick. There is a "right" consistency that will prevent the pizza from being too watery but will still have enough moisture to allow the cheese and sauce to fuse somewhat.

On the other hand, you could just ignore that the cheese isn't fusing. I've eaten thousands of pizzas in Italy and most of them are more watery that what you'd get in the US and the cheese usually does not fuse with the sauce. Probably because it's only in the 800°F brick oven for about 3 minutes! Enough time to cook the thin crust, barely melt the cheese, and that's it.

If you really want that cheese to fuse, I would suggest a slightly more watery sauce, and more heat from the top. Turn on the broiler for the last minute or so until the cheese starts to bubble. This will also help evaporate some of the extra water in the sauce.

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Cheese in Italian pizza is usually "floating" on top of the tomato sauce and quite slippery, especially when the pizza gets colder, so what you got with your pizza seems quite right to me.

One trick I used a while ago for sticking the cheese to the dough was to put mozzarella slices on it before the tomato sauce, instead of the opposite. This way the cheese tends to stick more to the dough and remains softer.

Be aware that this doesn't work each and every time, and it depends greatly on the quality of the mozzarella: for pizza it must not be too moist (if it is you should drain it a little by grating or slicing it and keeping it in a colander for a couple of hours), and it shouldn't be too stringy when melted, as it will tend to "float" more on the slices (besides that, it is generally a sign that the mozzarella is not of a very good quality)

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+1 for noting that mozzarella of lower quality can contribute to the problem. –  Todd Chaffee May 2 '11 at 13:24

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