“When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!”
When most people think of Dean Martin’s 1953 hit That’s Amore, they don’t think about love – the actual subject of the song. They think about pizza!
After all, who can resist thinking about that crispy crust, those crispy toppings, that delicious stringy cheese… or is it the cheese that comes first, and then the toppings?
To avoid a culinary crisis, and get your homemade pizza up to a Dean Martin standard, we’ll answer the question of whether cheese goes below or on top of toppings… and why!
Cheese always goes belowthe toppings
Cheese always, always, ALWAYS goes below your toppings when making pizza. Think of your pizza as a pyramid. You’ve got your dough as the foundation. Then your sauce. The cheese is the next solid layer. Then your toppings (after all, they’re called top-pings and not bottom-ings), and then finally your garnishes like basil, pepper, fresh mozzarella, etc, after the pizza is cooked.
Why does cheese go below the toppings?
Believe it or not, there’s actually a bit of a science behind cheese placement when making delicious homemade pizza. Let’s explain the reasons why toppings always go on top of the cheese:
Cheese gets crispy if it’s the top layer of pizzaWhile some of us actually like crispy cheese and ask for extra of it (we’ll discuss this below: see Extra Cheese), traditionally, the cheese on a Neapolitan-style pizza is supposed to be light and stringy. The toppings, on the other hand, are allowed to be a little crispy. This is because traditional toppings, like pepperoni, ham, prawns, and onions, all taste great when they’re slightly crisp.
It looks more appealingAesthetics are another reason why cheese always goes below the toppings. This way, you can see the delicious, fresh ingredients being used, which is a huge part of ‘plating’ a dish.
Because… it just does!And another reason why toppings go on top of the cheese is because… it just does! While nobody’s stopping you from doing it differently, it’s also tradition that keeps us doing the things we do.
Toppings that go under the cheese?!
‘Now, hold up’, you say. ‘You’ve just spent the whole article talking about how cheese always goes underneath the toppings, and now you’re contradicting yourselves?!’
Well, yes. We are. But it’s for a good reason: toppings that burn or dry out easily, like dried oregano, go under the cheese so that they don’t burn. Simple!
If you’re making a pizza with extra cheese, then that extra cheese goes on top of the toppings so that it’s nice and crispy.
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