Making dough at Murray State

Published in FSD Update

Who doesn’t love a good pizza? The dining services team at Murray State University, in Kentucky, wanted to create a better tasting pie, so the team decided the best way to accomplish this was by making its own dough in house. “I didn’t think our pizza program, especially in a cash operation serving students, faculty and staff, was as good as it should be,” says Paula Amols, director, dining services and Racer Hospitality. “The better doughs that could be bought would make the price of a slice of pizza too expensive for this market, so making our own was the only other option.”

It was a team effort to determine how the pizza would be composed. “We have a relatively new cook who has done scratch pizza dough in the past, so we tried her recipe, one from [our chef] and one from a chef at another university. We settled on the first one, then started experimenting with different sauces, finally deciding on a marinara sauce. Then for the cheese, we switched from 100 percent mozzarella to a five-cheese blend,” Amols shares. After some training and practice preparing the fresh dough and working with the hearth stone oven, the new pizzas were introduced at the start of the spring semester within the new dining center, which was renovated last summer.

The dough is prepared fresh each morning by dining services staff.  Customers “can see us stretching it by hand, so they know it’s fresh, and because it’s so fresh, it has a rustic look when baked because they’re not preformed or mechanically pressed,” Amols says.

The offering is a hit, and students have dubbed it “the best pizza in town,” she adds. So far sales have increased about 10 percent and go up each week as the word gets out. “I don’t think you can underestimate the impact on customers of providing fresh products like this. When [students] see us making it, their perception changes about the other food we put out, and they believe us when we tell them that much of what we provide is made from scratch.”

In addition to personal pizzas, the team is “playing with cinnamon and sugar dessert breadsticks and a cheesy Parmesan breadstick. Calzones are something I hope to have us do in the future,” Amols adds.