Thin Crust Pizza Pie
Homemade Tomato Pie Recipe
Pizza Pie, Tomato Pie or Pizza, call it what you like, just
call me when it's ready. America's favorite pie has many
variations and names.
The history of Pizza in America started When U.S. Soldiers
returning home from World War II were requesting the great
tomato pie they enjoyed while on tour in Italy.
What style tomato pie did the soldiers like most? Neapolitan
and Margherita. Those recipes have evolved into Thin crust and
New York style pizzas that all Americans have come to love.
The Best Pizza? Good luck with that! Thick crust, thin crust,
chewy or crunchy, Sicilian, Tomato Pie, Pan Pizza, and Chicago
Deep Dish all have their devotees. The winner is whichever
style you like, cooked to perfection.
Amazingly, a seemingly simple recipe is one of the most complex.
Pizza Pie purists prefer their pie in it's original Italian style. Simply made with dough, sauce(or fresh tomatoes), seasonings and cheese only.
During my restaurant years I worked with various types of Pizza
including an odd pan pizza known locally as "Old English Style"
pizza pie and a standard American style based on retarded dough
(read below), canned sauce, a particularly oily production cheese.
The style I've come to love is a fresh dough version truer to
original Italian styles.
Over the years I've come to favor the basic original style thin
crust. But, converting your favorite pizzeria recipe to the home
kitchen can be daunting.
As in all recipes, variations can make or break a recipe. My
poor family endured many years of my trying to find a competent
home version of thin crust pizza. Once I found what worked in
our kitchen, they begged me to stop searching for pizza perfection.
Before I present My recipe, a few caveats, the oven, cooking
surface, cooking time & temperature, ingredients and process can
change the recipe drastically. But, knowing Pizza pie ingredient
guidelines will make dialing in your favorite recipe a little
This is not the same as what some area's of the Northeastern United States call
Here are some basic Baker Percentages (these percentages help
build a formula for repeated success) and general Pizza Pie dough information:
FLOUR - is the main ingredient and is 100% in
weight measurement, all other ingredients are a percentage of the flour amount. Protein gives dough it's elasticity producing gluten. Flour protein percentages should be between 11% - 14% (Note some "00"Italian flours range from 8% - 9% and are excellent for Pizza)
WATER - is the second largest measurement and for pizza recipes the ratio to flour usually ranges between 54% -60%.
Water can make dough firmer or softer, it dissolves and combines the other ingredients and water temperature activates the yeast optimally between 100 - 110 degrees. Use a consistent source for water.
Example: changing from filtered water to tap water could change mineral content and PH (acid/alkaline), causing changes in gluten development and rising. Use less water if fermenting dough over night, More if using a fresh dough recipe.
YEAST - ratio should be 1% or less of Flour weight for long fermentation (overnight) and 3% or less for fresh dough. Yeast provides fermentation by eating sugars, producing CO2 gas and increasing dough volume, increases dough stretchability and increases The Pizza Pie flavor as well. The more yeast, the more flavor, as long as it's under the 1% / 3%. limits. Another rule of thumb, as with water, use less yeast if fermenting dough over night, More if using a fresh dough recipe.
SALT - ratio is about 1% - 2.5%. Salt improves
and enhances the taste of the pizza pie crust. It also Strengthens gluten formed in fermentation, making the dough a little tighter and more elastic. The more salt used the more mixing time for gluten development.
SUGAR - ratio is usually 1% - 5%. While sugar isn't necessary in Pizza dough recipes (Ex. Neapolitan Style) it can play an important role in dough making. The reason it isn't necessary is that the yeast will feed on the sugars in the flour for development. Using additional sugar does a couple of things. It provides more food for the yeast to eat, speeding up fermentation. Plus, sugar adds flavor and causes the dough to brown faster. A little more sugar will speed up the process when making fresh, eat it now, pizza pie.
OLIVE OIL - approx. ratio is 0% - 5% for thin crust and thick crust is 6% - 15%. When adding more oil, decrease water by half the increased amount. Using olive oil is a great choice for adding flavor, it also make the dough more pliable and the crust a little more tender. Note: other oils can be substituted.
Retarded Dough - This is the dough method used by many pizzerias. The dough is made 24 hours ahead of time. After it is mixed, portioned, covered or oiled to prevent crusting. The dough is then refrigerated allowing for long slow fermentation. The next day it is brought out and allowed to warm to room temperature before working into pizza. A major benefit is the wonderful yeasty taste of the crust. If you decide to try this method (recommended), three changes in recipe are suggested. Increase the sugar to 2% - 3%, so the yeast can feed on it over night, decrease water by 1 1/2% - 2%, the long fermentation produces additional liquid and decrease yeast by 1%.
This information is not meant to confuse. The dough is the trickiest part of pizza to get consistent. Understanding how each component affects the outcome of both the dough and eventually the crust, should make success less elusive. Had I known this information in the beginning of my Pizza pie adventure I could have eliminated about two years of experimentation.
*The rest of the ingredients are more a matter of personal choice*
Mozzarella - This is the #1 cheese choice in pizza. It comes in many variations. Wet, dry, commercial, grocery store brands and homemade. A very popular and expensive version is Italian "buffalo" mozzarella. It is cheese made from the milk of water buffalo. It's wonderful flavor and consistency make for great pizza. Finding the "best" cheese available is the goal for homemade pizza makers.
Other Cheeses - Romano, Parmesan, Cheddar and Goat cheese can substituted for or blended with mozzarella for pizza cheese. Cheese can be grated, sliced or cubed depending which style you prefer. I use 1/2" - 3/4" sized cubes. This method is good for less cheese burning at high temperatures.
TOMATOES, SAUCE, SEASONINGS AND TOPPINGS:
Tomatoes / Sauce: using tomatoes thinly sliced as in Margherita style or in a
fresh tomato base
are the natural choices. Sauces from the can or home cooked and seasoned to taste. The choice is yours.
Seasonings - Oregano, Basil, Salt, Pepper (Red and/or Black), and Garlic are standard seasonings for the pie and sauce.
Toppings - The standards are Pepperoni, meatball, sausage, mushrooms, olives, onions, garlic, broccoli, ricotta cheese and Parmesan. Since the introduction of California Style pies just about anything can top off a pizza.
Mixing - Dough can be mixed by hand if you are "strong like bull" and you're not in a hurry. Not many people have access to a commercial Hobart style mixer, so the household choices are a food processor, a stand mixer or a bread machine.
The purpose is to work the dough until elastic in texture. I use a stand up mixer with a dough hook attachment. It works great.
Oven - If your are fortunate enough to have a brick oven, God bless you, I'm jealous! Not many of us have the $3,000 - $6,000 for a custom brick oven. The rest of us have two choices, our kitchen oven or a barbecue grill. Both can produce great results. I am fortunate in that my old stove can reach 600 degrees at it's highest temperature just before the broil setting. I'm on my third heating element since regularly cooking pizza pies. My thin pizza is, burnt edge, done in 7 minutes.
Heating Surface - Pans, cooking sheets, stones, metal and bricks can be used in the oven. If you are looking for a crisp bottom the best choices are stone, bricks or metal. Stones are my favorite, except when preheating to the 600 degree temperature. There is a problem when cooler leaking sauce hits the stone. I've broken a few stones and that can really ruin a night of pizza craving. I've settled on cast iron.
Peels and Cutters - Getting the uncooked Pizza pie to the heat can be tricky if your not using a pizza peel. Peels are long wood or metal paddles used to deliver to and remove the pizza from the oven. Once the Pie is on the cutting board, a wheel cutter is the best choice for portioning out the prize. A sharp knife will do the job as well.
THIN CRUST PIZZA PIE RECIPE
Dough Measurements and Bakers Percentages:
Flour - 4 1/4 cups = 535 grahams = 19.13 oz. = 100%
Water - 1 1/3 cups = 316 grahams = 11.28 oz. = 59%
Yeast - (H) 2 1/4 tsp = 10.7 grahams = .38 oz. = 2%
Sugar - (H) 2 tsp = 9.4 grahams = .33 oz. = 1 3/4%
Salt - (H) 1 1/3 tsp = 6.69 grahams = .25 oz. = 1 1/4%
Oil - 4 tsp = 18.7 grahams = .75 oz. = 3 1/2%
(H) = heaping
Note: for overnight fermentation use 57% water(approx. 1 1/4 cups), 1% yeast(1 1/8 tsp) and 2% sugar(2 1/4 tsp).
Start with the dough using the above percentages for Fresh dough.
If your are using a stand mixer with a stainless steel bowl, fill the bowl halfway with warm/hot water. Mixing temperature is very important. Hot water poured into a cold bowl could drop liquid temperature by 5 - 10 degrees, possibly enough to adversely affect yeast production.
Add yeast and sugar into the mixing bowl and combine. Using a cooking thermometer, warm "1/3 Cup" of water to 100 - 110 degrees and add to mixing bowl. By hand, combine ingredients, cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for 7 minutes. When uncovered there should be a thicker foamy consistency. If watery, the yeast didn't activate, discard and try it again.
Add "2 Cups" of flour, sprinkle salt on top of the flour, add olive oil, add the remaining 1 Cup warm water and using the dough hook attachment mix on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl into the liquid as needed. Mix until the slurry is a smooth consistency resembling loose pudding. This creates a gluten base allowing even incorporation of the remaining flour. After adding remaining flour run mixer on low/medium until everything is Incorporated, then increase speed to medium high.
Keep running until the sides of mixing bowl are clean and free of dough. Stop the mixer and clean stubborn build up if necessary and continue mixing until the dough ball is an even smooth consistency. Remove dough from bowl and work it into a smooth ball. Add a couple ounces of olive oil to the bowl and work the oil around the inside of the bowl. Place dough ball back into the bowl and work around until covered with oil, cover bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft free area. Set a timer for "1 - 1 1/2" hours, let rise until dough is lite and soft. This will allow the fermentation process to double the dough in size.
After rising remove dough and portion cut into 3 or 4 evenly sized pieces. 4 pieces for very thin pies or 3 pieces for regular thin pizza pies. Work each piece into a smooth ball, dust with flour, repeat then cover dough balls with a towel.
Allow 10 - 15 minutes for re-rise. Have the pizza peel and fine corn meal, seasonings, sauce/tomatoes and cheese ready for pizza assembly. Preheat oven to highest setting, usually 500 degrees on most ovens.
Remove one of the doughs, leaving the remainder covered to prevent crusting.
With flour on a board or clean counter top start to pat out the dough into a 14" round shape. Sprinkle fine corn meal evenly onto peel. place dough on peel. Gently brush or spray a light coating of olive oil on dough. Add tomatoes / sauce, lightly salt, pepper and sugar (if necessary due to acidic tomatoes). Add cheese cubes in groups of five or six pieces with equal space in between, add basil (fresh if possible), sprinkle lightly (just for flavor) with mild Parmesan/Romano cheese and sprinkle the Pizza Pie with dried oregano.
Slide onto heating surface in oven, close oven (don't the leave oven door open too long, the temperature will drop fast) and set timer for 5 minutes. When time is up turn pizza pie 180 degrees for even browning close oven and remove when browned to liking. (Approx. 2 - 4 minutes). Remove the pie when done, allow to cool then cut into slices and enjoy.
Repeat process with other doughs or dust cover doughs, place in plastic covered bowl and freeze for another time.
Dough - (As 1/4 of above formula)
1 Cup - Tomatoes/Sauce - This Pizza Pie recipe uses fresh tomato base and pieces.
1/2 Tbl - Olive oil - for spraying or lightly brushing pizza dough
8 Fresh basil leaves - chopped
1/4 - 1/3 Pound Mozzarella - cubed 1/2" - 3/4"
Salt, Pepper and Sugar - to taste
Light sprinkle of Parmesan/Romano grated cheese
Light sprinkle of Dried Oregano
Optional: Add toppings if desired.
Here's a before and after version of homemade Margherita Pizza Pie. The only difference, replace the sauce with fresh sliced tomatoes. Preferably home grown for a fresh tomato flavor.
Everyone has a favorite Pizza Pie. When I'm not making my own, these are two of my favorite pizza makers. When I'm traveling to the North East United States I make sure I visit the
King of Pizza
and when I'm in South Florida I always visit
Tucci's Fire and Coal Pizza.
Do you think you've seen just about every kind of Pizza Pie and tomato pie? Look at these
Pizza Pies of the United States.