Duncan’s Degustations – Dr Oetker frozen pizzas

Like a gift from the heavens, a PR person offered me frozen pizzas to sample. I’m really not the ideal candidate, but with my Duncan’s Degustations series underway, how could I resist the opportunity to add to my spectrum of likely-ick experiences?

Offered a sample from the range of four flavours of Dr Oetker Pizza Ristorante pizzas, I asked for one. To my dismay, I was sent eight (8, acht!) of Herr Doktor Oetker’s frozen creations. It was already a hard ask for me to contemplate one, let alone multiple frozen pizzas.

I can’t recall when I last (pre-Oetker) ate a frozen dough disc with topping. I mean, I don’t even buy takeaway pizza. I make my own pizza. Often. Bottom to top. Sometimes it even has pineapple on it.

Dr Oetker, well established German ingredient company (nowadays prominent in preprepared foods, basic cookbooks including one classic translated into English, plus shipping and finance), has for some reason decided to expand into the Australian market with, of all things, imported pizzas. That’s right. Your supermarket freezer cabinet contains pizzas imported from Europe. How’s that for pointless food-miles? At least the origin isn’t fudged (in fact, the packaging is distinctly international), unlike the bread and pastries at Woolworths which are no longer clearly marked.

Back to the food-tasting side of this. You remove the very flat pizza from its shrink-wrap plastic cover (tasty touch that) and pop it in the oven at 220C for 11-13mins. And out comes…

Having eight of these buggers, I had to share them around. My parents were more than a little resistant, but bravely agreed to try Mozzarella. My nice neighbours are more open to preprepared foods, so I thought they might offer a different perspective on all flavours. And Mittens and I ate the Spinaci and the Funghi. (Curiously, perhaps for quarantine reasons, there are no meat pizzas (except tuna) being imported into Australia, despite the German range being about 50% meaty.)

Surprisingly, the tasters’ opinions were very similar:

  • Assertive but not stale herb/garlic aromas.
  • A fairly pleasant but bland taste for all varieties tested.
  • A thin, crumbly pastry base (parcooked) with an unpleasant, pasty-doughy mouthfeel.

The underside before baking (parcooked base).

This is one of those rare food products which is entirely edible, but left the tasters cold. In an emergency, I would willingly eat these pizzas. Given a choice, I’d choose a chunk of cheese or an apple or a slice of toast with Vegemite instead. Surely any food should evoke a stronger preference than this, whether positive or negative? What a strange achievement by Dr Oetker’s food technologists.

12 thoughts on “Duncan’s Degustations – Dr Oetker frozen pizzas”

  1. (Preprepared, heh– was that deliberate? And also, love it when you speak German.)
    I think the crumbly bases are par for the course for frozen pizzas, unfortunately. I don’t know how actual pizza dough would turn out, either parcooked or not. Maybe that is subject to some home experimentation (homemade frozen pizzas, hmm). Also, maybe it turned out crumblier than expected because it was baked on a stone?

  2. @manggy: “Preprepared” is not a typo. The texture of the bases was (reportedly) the same across the tasters, but I’m the only one using a stone, so I guess the crumbly-pasty-doughy thing is a standard characteristic of these (and more noticeable than in other pizzas I’ve tasted — though it is about 15 years since I ate any other frozen commercial pizza).

    You’ve reminded me that I’d forgotten to mention homemade frozen pizza. In my experience, it’s not great either, though primarily due to changes in the flavour of tomato sauces during freezing. This is one dish where fresh is truly best, I think.

  3. Oh Duncan – you’re a braver soul than I! I only kept Dr Oetker’s email long enough to let out a chuckle before pressing ‘delete’.

    You’ve supplied me with a few more chuckles via this review – thanks. 😀

  4. You managed to make the cooked versions look half decent Duncan! From a purely aesthetic point of view, they look better than the crud that has been sold at our local subparmarkets….but that doesn’t mean all that much. I’ve never met a frozen pizza I like, and in fact, haven’t had all that many pleasurable take away versions either. I completely agree that fresh is best, and home-made is the best of the best, and if you don’t want to make your own, I think you need to eat in not get it delivered or take away as you don’t want them steaming in a box for 15 minutes before you eat them imho, even good pizzas start to slump this way. Apart from decent restaurants, I’ve only ever found bought pizza bases like cardboard…though I hear some of the chain pizza places manage OILY cardboard, which must be a real treat:P

  5. @Cindy: I think I might even have undeleted the email after a similar reflex action;)
    @Coby: Oooh, you’re giving me memories of Pizza Hut. Hmm, might need to write an article about the shame of pizzas past or something.
    @Steve: yep, lots of baking and dessert related ingredients, plus instant pudding, etc etc etc.

  6. I seem to remember having Dr Oetker’s chocolate pudding in the 70s. I have no recollection of what it was like, but I think it stuck with me because of the name.

    What a strange idea – importing frozen pizza from Germany. Are they available everywhere, or is it one of those crazy Aldi things? (Not that I’ll be seeking them out!)

  7. @injera: yes, the puddings are probably the same sort of thing as those White Wings ones. Gawd, maybe I should set up a blind tasting of whip-in-jiffy instant pudding! 😛

    The Dr Oetker pizzas are alllll over the supermarkets. In fact, Aldi might be the only one who doesn’t stock them.

  8. Duncan,

    You are now aiming at a topic (and a pizza) very close to my heart.

    I admit eating Dr Oetker’s pizzas on a semi-regular basis. I also freely admit to liking them (the second statement doesn’t necessarily follow from the first). Their Hawaiian leaves a lot to be desired, but their mushroom and mozzarella pizzas are pretty good.

    I certainly haven’t found any better frozen pizzas, and Lord knows I would much rather eat one of these than some of the pathetic-tasting “fresh”and “gourmet” pizzas that proliferate where I am. I had two of those yesterday, allegedly “chicken and pesto” and vegetarian – they could have been toasted cardboard basted with olive oil, for what little textural and flavour interest they provided. If only I had some Oetkers handy…

    Duncan, when you next get an email from Dr Oetker, could you please refer them to me, or at the very least wait until I am next in Melbourne before you decide to eat them. I would gladly assist you in finishing them off.

  9. Hi Dottie. In the spirit of openmindedness, I tried the mozzarella one — the only one which had exclusively been sampled by the other reviewers. So, while I am certainly willing to concede that the mozz one is the most palatable of the three varieties I tried, it came awfully close to tasting of nothing (which is better than many frozen pizzas, I absolutely agree!). And the base was still odd. If you’re in town in the next few months, I might invite you over for a pizza… 😛

  10. Surely, one should take very, very suspiciously the opinions of anyone who confesses to having pineapple on pizza – even if it is a fully homemade job!

  11. Whilst perusing the internet for opinions on pizza I stumbled upon this page about the Dr and his fabulous creations. I have to say I agree with the above comment and must say that this is a pizza close to my heart. There are few things in life more touching than the sight of a piping hot Dr emerging fresh from the oven, except maybe seeing the birth of my first daughter or looking into the eyes of my wife on our wedding day.

    You have saddened me with your portrayal of such a wondrous object and left me with an overwhelming feeling of pathos towards one who cannot grasp the beauty and fulfillment attained through the consumption of a Dr.

    I must go now as my Speciale is ready.


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