By Sean Keeley, culinary specialist, Lincoln Land Community College
This week I am the substitute baking instructor. Baking is not my usual thing. I can pull it off, but I sometimes lack the patience to carefully measure out the ingredients – baking is as much science as it is art. I like to throw things together, especially when using up leftovers. But the class I am subbing for is pizza class, and that is totally in my wheel house.
The class is part of a series on “yeasted doughs.” There are many styles of pizza. New York style is typically the most common across the U.S., a thin, hand tossed crust with a variety of toppings. Neapolitan is the original style from Italy, thin crust baked in intense heat with just tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella and olive oil. Chicago deep dish is very popular style created by Ike Sewell, an Italian immigrant looking to create something new – that eventually lead to Pizza Uno. Detroit style is gaining in popularity, a lighter dough is pressed into a heavily greased or buttered brownie pan – in Detroit they use a car parts pan, then “brick” cheese is layered on top to the edge creating a cheese crust. The sauce is put on after it comes out of the oven.
There are many other styles: Sicilian which is made on a focaccia-like dough, California style with exotic, seasonal toppings. But in the Midwest, the St Louis style pizza is extremely popular, baked on a cracker thin crust made without yeast. In fact, once you get the dough together you can make your pizza right away! Even the sauce is just blended and not simmered at all. As I was looking through my pizza recipes for class, I found this recipe and remembered liking it a lot. The crust is so thin though, I do not recommend using more than two toppings (not including cheese).
Preheat your oven and pizza stone before you begin mixing. If you don’t have a stone you can use a large baking sheet. If you don’t have a pizza peel, or giant spatula, you can use the back side of a baking sheet – or a rimless baking pan. Traditional St Louis pizza is cut into squares, or “tavern cut.” Feel free to cut however you like.
St. Louis Style Pizza
10 ounces crushed tomatoes
3 ounces tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh, minced basil, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 cups + 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons corn syrup
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon water
4 cups shredded provel cheese, about 3/4 pound
1 cup of any additional ingredient, like pepperoni, sausage or veggies
1. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 550°F degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together tomato puree, tomato paste, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, basil, garlic powder and oregano. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, whisk flour, remaining salt and baking powder. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk water, oil and corn syrup. Mix into flour mixture until combined. Gently knead to bring together. Split the dough in two equal pieces and roll each piece out to make a 12-inch pie.
4. Transfer to a pizza peel (large spatula that can hold a whole pizza) covered in cornmeal. Spread half the sauce on each pizza. Cover with cheese and desired toppings. Sprinkle with a little basil, oregano and kosher salt to taste.
Bake on pizza stone for 8 – 10 minutes until crust is crisp and cheese is melted, bubbly and golden brown. Cool for a few minutes before slicing.
Two Ingredient Quick Crust
1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 cup self-rising flour
Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix the two ingredients together and roll out a 14 inch pie. Place on a lightly greased baking pan. Top with desired ingredients and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.