I vowed at the end of my last Pittsburgh Square Pizza Tour that I would attempt to discover the formula for these types of tray pizzas. After doing some research, I took my first shot. The result was very encouraging, but more work is needed.
The key to this pizza seems to be lots of yeast, a warm dough temperature and two nice long rise periods. Here’s the recipe:
2 Packets of IDY dissolved into
1 cup hot water
allow yeast to activate and double in volume
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups high gluten flour
The dough mixed in my bread machine for 10 minutes until smooth and I allowed it to have it’s first rise in the machine for 20 minutes. Fill the bottom of a cookie sheet with olive oil, enough to eventually deep fry the crust. Wipe some on the sides of the tray as well. Next, remove the dough and loosely form it into the shape the cookie sheet. I found it helpful to stretch it on the counter then place it into the tray. It should almost touch the edges. Lightly spray the top of the dough with oil to avoid letting it dry out.
Next, I allowed it to rise a second time for about 15 minutes in a warm dark place. I typically turn my oven on the lowest setting while the dough mixes then turn it off when I place the dough in for a rise period. It should be around 100 degrees and moist.
Once the dough rises to fill the tray, it can be topped. I used Neapolitan sauce and placed pepperoni on half on the sheet pie. The pie baked for 15 minutes at 450 degrees and turned golden brown. The bottom gets nice and crisp while the rest of the slice has a nice soft bite.
This pizza was not bad at all for the first attempt. I should have let it rise for much longer the second time, and also should have baked it longer. These changes should make a huge difference in the overall flavor. I was very encouraged by the texture and taste of the pizza. It’s not very comparable to the ones I had in Pittsburgh, but it’s definitely on the right track! Stay tuned as I work this one out.
UPDATE: Extending the rise time and a longer bake made this pizza turn out much better. Read more about tray pizza round two.