Lunchtime. Dinnertime. Halftime of the big game. When the rush is on during one of these peak times, orders surge and hungry patrons want service — Now.
Ever wondered how you could minimize wait time between ordering and service, yet still deliver the pies your patrons expect? Pre-staging cheese blanks could be the answer.
Drawing a (Cheese) Blank
If you have cheese blanks ready for order surges, you’re essentially three steps ahead on every order. Forming the dough ball into a crust, saucing the crust and adding cheese are all done ahead of time, and toppings are added to order.
It’s so easy, it’s also easy to overdo.
Let’s say you prep cheese blanks and the anticipated “rush” doesn’t happen or you just make too many. There’s no practical way to save blanks for later use once they sit at room temperature for an extended period of time, and throwing out that dough, sauce and cheese can easily double your food costs – with zero return. Sauce and cheese will eventually break down into the dough, making your crust dense and soggy. Quality becomes an issue in addition to potentially wasted ingredients.
To avoid costly overruns on cheese blanks, make some quick calculations. Estimate the number of pies you’ll likely serve during a rush period and the amount of time it would take to prepare each pie from scratch. If the numbers work out to be relatively large, then preparing cheese blanks is smart for back-of-the-house efficiency and stellar customer service. However, if the numbers are low or manageable, then pre-staging could leave you with unused cheese blanks and food costs that quickly spiral out of control.
Is using cheese blanks really that risky? No. Saving time without losing money or pie quality is possible when you pre-stage cheese blanks using crusts that fit your needs. Every operation is different, but with a little practice and by keeping the following expert Alive & Kickin’ timing tips in mind, you’ll beat the rush every time.
Dough Ball vs. Par-Baked: Timing is Everything
Dough balls and par-baked crusts are both great cheese blank crust options, but they perform very differently.
Dough balls can be finicky if left at room temperature for long periods. They will continue to proof, which typically results in the dough sticking to baking screens or pans. To avoid gumminess, cheese blanks made with dough balls should be prepped no more than 30 minutes ahead of time if left at room temperature, and no more than an hour beforehand if refrigerated.
Par-baked crusts are more forgiving than dough balls. Generally speaking, cheese blanks made using par-baked crusts can be prepped and held refrigerated up to 24 hours before baking without sacrificing quality. This is great for an early morning rush, because you don’t have to open your shop several hours early to get started on pizzas for a big order or busy holiday/event. If you won’t be baking these cheese blanks within an hour, make sure to keep them refrigerated.
We’re not saying that every pizza will go bad if they are held beyond the suggested times; however, using over-extended cheese blanks may result in sub-par pies that patrons will remember – but not in a good way.
When it comes to successful cheese blanks, you need practice to make perfect and guidance from the crust experts at Alive & Kickin’.