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I'm making a simple pizza using:

  • A regular water/flour/yeast dough wo/oil, raised, kneaded and flattened thin with a rolling pin
  • High quality minced meat (<5% fat), pre-fried in a pan without oil, drained of excess fluid, added a little ketchup
  • Topped with white cheese (an European gouda type, 27% fat, whereof 17% saturated fat)

Baking at the bottom of the oven on a thin silicon mat on a wire rack at 225°C, a lot of small holes form in the cheese, maybe 1 cm apart, and there is a lot of oil(?) simmering around these holes.

This gives a somewhat strange end result, and makes the crust hard because the top seems to finish much slower because of all the excess oil the pizza is baking in.

Can someone explain the formation of these holes and the excess fat? Does it come from the cheese itself? How can I test / change things to get a uniform baking without the holes and oil.

  • Maybe post a picture? Are you using a pan or cooking on a stone. – moscafj May 21 '18 at 11:59
  • What's the hydration of your pizza dough? Can you post the recipe? How thick is your crust? – GdD May 21 '18 at 12:30
  • US? It seems cheese formulae changed around 2012 or so. What used to work now often leaves an oily mess. Try changing brands, or even cheese types, if possible. – Wayfaring Stranger May 21 '18 at 23:38
  • @WayfaringStranger: I'm not in the US, but I guess you're right. Trying different cheese is probably the best thing to try first. I'll do so and post back. I suppose baking temperature is not an issue, since those authentic Italian pizza ovens run at lava temperature. – forthrin May 22 '18 at 9:09
  • As I mentioned in my joking comment, if I didn't despise ketchup in any form, I might be on board with you for that. The sauce recipe include with overall one for thin crust pizza is good (Cook's Illustrated generally is a lot of work for a great result, but this sauce is pretty much instant, so just take that part, if you want.) seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/01/… – PoloHoleSet May 23 '18 at 17:21
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I agree that cheese is very likely the culprit - here is an article on the scientific approach to Cheese on pizza (with an interesting graphic) that can prompt some informed expiramentation:

(Huffpost) The Best Mix Of Cheeses To Put On Your Pizza, According To Science

James and her colleagues analyzed the properties of seven different types of cheeses — mozzarella (which is the most often used in pizza), cheddar, Colby, Edam, Emmental, Gruyere, and provolone — and how they affect these cheeses while baking.

What did the researchers find?

Since cheddar, Colby, and Edam cheeses have “small elasticity,” they didn’t easily form blisters when baking. As for Gruyere, Emmental, and provolone, their large amount of free oil prevented moisture from easily evaporating and so resulted in less browning. Meanwhile, mozzarella easily blisters.

So, the researchers concluded in their study that mozzarella can be combined with any of the other six cheeses to create just the right amount of browning and blistering you prefer on a gourmet pizza — for instance, try cheddar for less blisters or provolone for less browning.

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    Very interesting article. I've tried a couple of different cheeses, and it does indeed seem that the cheese type is to blame for the weird behaviour (holes, oil). The best one I've found so far is a bagged, grated mozzarella (not the watery Italian balls) that has "unique melting and stretching properties", 21% fat, and made from pasteurised milk, potato flour, salt, milk acid culture and microbial rennet. (I think this "mozzarella" is made by regular ol' cows, as there are no buffalos around here, but the end result is predictably good every time, and that's what matters.) – forthrin Jul 12 '18 at 6:16

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