Author Topic: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust  (Read 21708 times)

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Offline BTB

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St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« on: February 02, 2010, 06:56:09 PM »
The February/March 2010 edition of Cook's Country magazine had an article on St. Louis-Style Pizza and included a recipe for a thin, yeastless cracker crust pizza based roughly on the famous Imo's pizza there that I once tried many, many years ago.  I thought I would give it a whirl and try the recipe out.
 
The author's recipe interpreting Imo's thin crust was simply a volume recipe which for a 12" pizza was:
 
1 cup AP flour
1 T cornstarch
1 t sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 cup plus 1 T water
1 T olive oil
 
Calculating the weight of each, I set about using the Expanded Pizza Dough Calculating Tool and approximated the above recipe as follows:
 
Flour (100%):  160.13 g  |  5.65 oz | 0.35 lbs
Water (46%):  73.66 g  |  2.6 oz | 0.16 lbs
Salt (1.75%):  2.8 g | 0.1 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.5 tsp | 0.17 tbsp
Olive Oil (8%):  12.81 g | 0.45 oz | 0.03 lbs | 2.85 tsp | 0.95 tbsp
Sugar (2.5%):  4 g | 0.14 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1 tsp | 0.33 tbsp
Corn Starch* (5%):  8.01 g | 0.28 oz | 0.02 lbs | 3.31 tsp | 1.1 tbsp
Baking Powder (1.25%):  2 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.5 tsp | 0.17 tbsp
Total (164.5%): 263.41 g | 9.29 oz | 0.58 lbs | TF = 0.07 
    * Used the corn flour ingredient space in the tool itself as none existed there for corn starch.  I also in
      in the tool put a 13" pizza size in lieu of any bowl residue (but ended up making a 14" ultra thin crust) 
 
I guessed at the Thickness Factor of 0.07 and as it turned out I rolled out the dough probably much, much thinner and filled up my 14" cutter pan completely, which I hadn't intended to do.  The stiff dough ball rolled out very easily to a nearly paper thin dough skin that really surprised the heck out of me.  And I didn't even have to warm it up.  I docked the dough but let it rest too long as the docking didn't seem to have much effect when I par-baked the dough for 4 to 5 minutes at 475 degrees F.  But that was all right as I like the bubble effect on the par-baked dough skin anyway.
 
On the par-baked crust, I put some undrained 6 in 1 sauce, Italian deli sausage (uncooked), sprinkled some deli shredded cheese along with some shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese (Sargento Artisan Blend), along with some parmesan, basil and oregano.  Oh, and I put a little brown sugar, salt, and garlic in the 6 in 1.  I didn't attempt to make the special Provel cheese that this type of St. Louis cracker crust pizza is famous for, however.  The Cook's Country article was way off, I thought, on their suggestion to use white American and Monterey Jack for use as the Provel cheese, but who knows.
 
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 07:25:51 PM by BTB »


Offline BTB

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2010, 06:59:59 PM »
I cooked the pizza in my slightly oiled 14" cutter pan on the second to the bottom rack at 475 degrees F and turned it around a few times to get it to bake evenly during the cooking cycle, which was about 12 to 15 minutes.  Note from the one picture that I was cooking a deep dish at the same time, but for a much longer duration.  This was one of the best cracker crust pizzas that I've made in a while and it was surprisingly super simple.  No yeast at all is used in the formulation.  I had some company over at the time and both pizzas that I made were quickly gobbled up.  This style pizza is definitely worth trying again.
                       
                                                                                                            --BTB                     ;)

Offline Buffalo

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2010, 06:03:21 AM »
I have never eaten, or made, a cracker style pizza and was wondering if the crust is actually crackery...ie does it crack, break apart and crumble when you are eating it...does it have any particular taste or does it just serve to hold the toppings...silly, but serious, questions.
Buffalo ??? ???

Offline BTB

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2010, 09:10:53 AM »
I have never eaten, or made, a cracker style pizza and was wondering if the crust is actually crackery...ie does it crack, break apart and crumble when you are eating it...does it have any particular taste or does it just serve to hold the toppings...silly, but serious, questions.
Buffalo,
 
There are no silly questions.  After thinking about it for a couple of minutes, it's a little harder to describe than what first appears.  Just some of my thoughts and comments, others are free to add as they see it.  But let's start at "cracker."  It is not pizza on a cracker like a saltine cracker.  It does not crumble and fall apart as you bite it (normally) like a cracker.  It generally does not have much of a cracker texture, altho lovers of cracker crusts love the bubble effect in the crust which reminds them somewhat of a cracker (and often thus has a little of that cracker texture). 
 
It's probably more "cracker-like," (or semi-cracker like if that makes any sense) but generally more tender at the same time esp. towards the middle of the pizza, but not chewy like many NY and other styles.  As you first bite into it, it generally has a nice crisp sensation or a little snap to the bite.  Some have more crunch to them than others, so there's not one universal type of cracker crust.  When doing one in the home oven setting, it generally is necessary to par bake the crust.  That is most often not done in the commercial setting, however.
 
It often is slightly flaky, a little crunchy, and a much lighter crust than non-cracker crusts.  Taste varies depending on the ingredients, recipe, etc.  I don't know if this is helpful at all.  One bite usually replaces a thousand words.  If anybody has any thoughts, please chime in.
                                                                                                       --BTB

Offline Mad_Ernie

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2010, 09:14:59 AM »
I have never eaten, or made, a cracker style pizza and was wondering if the crust is actually crackery...ie does it crack, break apart and crumble when you are eating it...does it have any particular taste or does it just serve to hold the toppings...silly, but serious, questions.
Buffalo ??? ???

BTB described it very well.

Crispy would be one adjective I use.  If you can stomach it, get a Pizza Hut original thin 'n' crispy style pizza and you'll get the general idea.  It's somewhat of a flaky texture due to the fact most of these style of pies are run through a sheeter which compresses the dough in a kind of layering technque.  I'm sure there are pictures in the cracker-style forum to give you an idea.  Also, look at the following reference page from Slice.com at the Bar style, Midwest style, and Chicago thin style.  All are pretty much the same animal in my book.
http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2008/01/a-list-of-regional-pizza-styles.html?ref=slice-bb2
Let them eat pizza.

Offline Mad_Ernie

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2010, 09:19:11 AM »
I cooked the pizza in my slightly oiled 14" cutter pan on the second to the bottom rack at 475 degrees F and turned it around a few times to get it to bake evenly during the cooking cycle, which was about 12 to 15 minutes.  Note from the one picture that I was cooking a deep dish at the same time, but for a much longer duration.  This was one of the best cracker crust pizzas that I've made in a while and it was surprisingly super simple.  No yeast at all is used in the formulation.  I had some company over at the time and both pizzas that I made were quickly gobbled up.  This style pizza is definitely worth trying again.                                                                                                            --BTB                     ;)


Excellent as usual, BTB.  It's early and I'm already hungry for a slice. :D

This 'no yeast' idea is making me think back to a Shakey's clone that Steve tried some years back.
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1311.msg17388.html#msg17388



I think you might have something here.
Let them eat pizza.

Offline BTB

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2010, 12:26:42 PM »
Thanks ME.  This is really an interesting recipe as you can throw it together quickly, there's no waiting time for the dough to rise, so you can roll it out and use it immediately with great results.  The Cook's Country article says you can even "tightly wrap the ball of dough in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days."    And the use of corn starch was a big surprise to me.

The author of the Cook's Country article is a native of St. Louis and a big fan of Imo's pizza.  As she indicated in the article, this " . . . easy crust required no mixer, no yeast, barely any kneading, and no rising time . . . The crust should be both tender and crisp, seemingly opposing goals.  Think flour tortilla meets saltine cracker . . . To get a crisp crust, pizzerias fire a pizza oven to upward of 800 degrees.  Lacking that, the first thing I did was replace corn syrup . . . " ( which is normally in a Imo's clone recipe) " . . . with drier granulated sugar, for a modest textual improvement." 

Regarding the addition of corn starch to the flour, she indicates " . . . It was more than a lucky guess that led me . . . to cornstarch.  The test kitchen has used it successfully in the past to crisp food (it works by absorbing moisture).  At the same time . . . it helps make (baked things) . . . tender.  (Its addition) . . . gave me the light brown crust with a tender middle and audibly crunchy edges that until now I'd had no luck achieving."

This is the first pizza crust that I've made without using any yeast and I'm very favorably impressed.  I am anxious to try this again in the next few days. I checked the internet and found that Imo's style pizza, and its much copied clone pizzas, are an either love it or hate it thing, with not many opinions in between.  As a result of this trial, count me in the love it column.  Now I have to find out how to get some Provel cheese.

                                                                                       --BTB                      :chef:
« Last Edit: February 03, 2010, 12:30:05 PM by BTB »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2010, 12:51:09 PM »
BTB,

Like you, I have discovered that it is difficult to find the right words to describe what a "cracker" style crust is like. The last time I attempted such a description was at Reply 159 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5762.msg71979/topicseen.html#msg71979. I came to the conclusion that, setting the baking aspects aside, which can take so many different forms, the two most important factors in what you end up with with this style is the hydration and the skin thickness. You can move either or both along a scale and end up with a wide range of crust texture variations. Whether one just rolls out the dough or uses a multiple fold and rolling method will also yield its own set of contributions to the "cracker" nature of the finished crust, as fazzari (John) has demonstrated so well on many occasions, even in his own pizzeria.

BTW, you did a nice job with the conversion of the recipe to baker's percent format and using the expanded dough calculating tool to get a format that others can now use to make their own versions or modifications. I assumed that maybe you used the labeling information to convert the cornstarch to a baker's percent but when I checked the nutrition information at nutritiondata.com, I saw that you had the right numbers. Out of curiosity, however, can you tell me how you converted the volume of flour (one cup) to 5.65 ounces? I know that sometimes CI specifies flour by both volume and weight.

Peter

Offline BTB

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2010, 01:24:10 PM »
Wow.  I have my notes on everything I did in regards to weight . . . except for the flour.  Good thing we have you around, Peter.  I'll have to figure out what happened.  The weight should have been 4 to 4.6 oz. range for the flour and I'll have to go back and re-figure this.  That's a flaw in the conversion.  In any event, the formula from the Expanded Pizza Dough Calculating Tool indicated above is what I used (with the 5.65 oz. of flour) and it turned out great.  Now this gives me an excuse to recalculate and try to see if I can do this style pizza crust even better.

                                                                                           --BTB

Edit:  Peter, I think I see what I did now.  I sought to get close to the amounts/weights indicated in the volume recipe for the water, salt, olive oil, sugar, corn starch, and baking powder and just ignored the flour as it didn't seen to be controllable in the tool at first blush.  What happened, I think, was the Thickness Factor variable can change the amount of flour considerably and I hadn't worked that factor out more.  The Cook's Country recipe didn't specify a TF but said it was for a 12" and that St. Louis Style "has a paper-thin crust."           

So far my revised calculations with the tool have led to this formulation as the closest to the amounts indicated in the volume recipe:

Flour (100%):  122.94 g  |  4.34 oz | 0.27 lbs
Water (54%):  66.39 g  |  2.34 oz | 0.15 lbs
Salt (2%):  2.46 g | 0.09 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.44 tsp | 0.15 tbsp
Olive Oil (10%):  12.29 g | 0.43 oz | 0.03 lbs | 2.73 tsp | 0.91 tbsp
Sugar (3%):  3.69 g | 0.13 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.93 tsp | 0.31 tbsp
Corn Starch (5.5%):  6.76 g | 0.24 oz | 0.01 lbs | 2.8 tsp | 0.93 tbsp
Baking Powder (1.5%):  1.84 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.46 tsp | 0.15 tbsp
Total (176%): 216.37 g | 7.63 oz | 0.48 lbs | TF = 0.0575

The weights are near the same, but it sure raised the hydration alot.  The TF that I entered this time was .0575 instead of the original .07 as I did roll the dough skin out much thinner than .07.  Will have to give this some further thought.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2010, 03:48:22 PM by BTB »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2010, 04:13:22 PM »
BTB,

I have a few added thoughts but can you tell me how you arrived at 4.34 ounces of flour this time and also whether the total hydration is due to the 1/4 cup plus 1 T water? Or is the 1 T water used for some other purpose?

Peter


Offline BTB

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2010, 04:35:18 PM »
Peter, I didn't arrive at the 4.34 oz., the tool did.  But I sought to get it in the range of dozens of websites, almost all of which have different weights for 1 cup or flour.  I would say the average was roughly 4.4 oz. for a cup of flour, but KA website says 4 oz. regardless of type of flour, which I would think is stretching it or not in line with others.  I relied on one source that said a cup of water was 8 ounces approx. and that 1 T of water was appox. 1/2 oz, thus thinking that 1/4 cup and 1 T = 2 1/2 ounces.  In seeking with the tool's use to get close to that, I got 2.34 oz.  The total hydration came out automatically with inputing the weight of the water as well as inputing the other weights, as well inputing a TF.  I'm not certain if I'm making myself clear on this so let me know.  Is there a better methodolgy? 

                                                                               --BTB

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2010, 06:52:47 PM »
BTB,

Thank you for the additional information.

There is actually an alternative method that might work better for you, and that is to use the Dough Weight option of the expanded dough calculating tool rather than the Thickness Factor option. To use this approach, you first have to convert all of the volume measurements into weights, calculate the baker’s percents, combine all of the ingredient weights to come up with a total dough batch weight (“Dough Weight” for purposes of the tool), and enter all of the required values into the expanded dough calculating tool. With respect to the flour weight, I checked the all-purpose flours listed in November’s Mass-Volume Conversion Calculator at http://foodsim.unclesalmon.com/, and 4.34 ounces appears to be a good value for one cup of flour measured out using the Textbook flour Measurement Method (the “stir, lift and level” method). Using the same tool to get a conversion value for ¼ cup plus 1 T water (15 teaspoons or 5 tablespoons) yields a weight of 2.608 ounces. When I did all of the conversions of volumes to weights based on the above, I came up with a dough batch weight of 8.02 ounces. When I plugged in all of the numbers into the expanded dough calculating tool (at http://www.pizzamaking.com/expanded_calculator.html), and used the Corn Flour entry as a proxy for the cornstarch, and after correcting the teaspoon and tablespoon volume measurements for the cornstarch, I got the following:

All-Purpose Flour (100%):
Water (60.0921%):
Salt (2.26814%):
Olive Oil (10.9721%):
Sugar (3.2402%):
Cornstarch (6.502%):
Baking Powder (1.6255%):
Total (184.70004%):
123.04 g  |  4.34 oz | 0.27 lbs
73.94 g  |  2.61 oz | 0.16 lbs
2.79 g | 0.1 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.5 tsp | 0.17 tbsp
13.5 g | 0.48 oz | 0.03 lbs | 3 tsp | 1 tbsp
3.99 g | 0.14 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1 tsp | 0.33 tbsp
8 g | 0.28 oz | 0.02 lbs | 2.98 tsp | 0.99 tbsp
2 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.5 tsp | 0.17 tbsp
227.25 g | 8.02 oz | 0.5 lbs | TF = N/A
Note: No bowl residue compensation

Now, if we accept the above as an accurate and true representation of the dough recipe you used, and we assume that the full 8.02 ounces of dough is used to make a single 12” pizza, then the corresponding thickness factor is 8.02/(3.14159 x 6 x 6) = 0.07088. Of course, if you use the 8.02 ounces of dough to make a larger or smaller pizza, then the thickness factor will change accordingly. Also, if you decide to use a bowl residue compensation, that will affect the total dough weight. Further, if you decide to repeat the recipe and to change the amounts of flour and/or water, and you weigh the actual amounts, those weights can be used to modify the above dough formulation (the baker’s percents will change as will the total dough batch weight). It may take a few iterations to get the best set of values for the flour and water but that is often inevitable when you are working with volume measurements of flour and water. You may even discover that you prefer the results that you achieved using the original recipe.

Peter
« Last Edit: February 03, 2010, 07:39:14 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline BTB

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2010, 08:23:08 AM »
Thanks, Peter.  I've been oblivious to the use of the dough weight option in the tool as I got so use to the TF option and I thought I would never need anything else.  But I'm never too old to learn and am grateful for your explaining that.

The hydration level in the latest conversion recipe is very high compared to what I did (60% vs. 46%) as I did use the baker's percent formulation as opposed to the original volume recipe.  This revised conversion will be very easy to roll out, but I wonder how it will taste and bake up compared to the 46% hydration dough ball that I did above, which was excellent.  60% hydration would ordinarily take it out of the cracker crust category I would think.  The only way to tell is to plan on a second pizza trial.  Will report on that when I get it done. 

                                                                                                --BTB

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2010, 10:55:46 AM »
BTB,

Since the recipe you used calls for cornstarch and baking powder, both of which are dry products that end up being part of the hydration process, if you add their weights to the flour you end up with an "effective" hydration of closer to 56%. There are some "cracker" style doughs with a hydration in the 50% range but they tend to have some tenderness in the finished crust. There may be a cracker effect at the edges but it diminishes as you move toward the center of the pizza. Or you might get a mixture of textures, including chewy, crispy and crunchy, as I discovered when I once made a "cracker" style pizza patterned after an experiment that Jackitup (Jon) conducted in which he used a hydration of 60%. I described my results at Reply 119 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5762.msg50909.html#msg50909. What is unique about the recipe you posted is the use of cornstarch and a fair amount of oil.

I will be very interested in seeing your results if you decide to use the dough formulation I posted in my last reply.

Peter

Offline BTB

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2010, 10:51:00 AM »
I re-tried this recipe yesterday using the formulation that Peter indicated as being approximately equal to the volume recipe that I indicated in the first posting above, except that I increased the weight (since I now learned how to use the weight part of the calculation tool . . . somewhat).  Actually I mean that I returned to the weight that matched the original weight of  263,41 g. as that rolled out to fit my 14" cutter pan nicely.  So the formulation that I used for this second trial was:

Flour (100%):  142.67 g  |  5.03 oz | 0.31 lbs
Water (60%):  85.6 g  |  3.02 oz | 0.19 lbs
Salt (2.268%):  3.24 g | 0.11 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.58 tsp | 0.19 tbsp
Olive Oil (11%):  15.69 g | 0.55 oz | 0.03 lbs | 3.49 tsp | 1.16 tbsp
Sugar (3.24%):  4.62 g | 0.16 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.16 tsp | 0.39 tbsp
Corn Starch (6.5%):  9.27 g | 0.33 oz | 0.02 lbs | 3.84 tsp | 1.28 tbsp
Baking Powder (1.625%):  2.32 g | 0.08 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.58 tsp | 0.19 tbsp
Total (184.633%): 263.41 g | 9.29 oz | 0.58 lbs | TF = N/A

The main difference between this and the first trial recipe that I did was simply "less flour, more water."

With so much higher hydration, I found myself parbaking the crust far longer than before, est. to be 6 to 8 minutes, which is a long parbake normally.  Afterwards I dressed the pizza and continued to bake it at 475 degrees F for about 15 to 17 minutes, mostly on a low rack, but raising it a little higher towards the end of the bake.

Offline BTB

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2010, 10:53:21 AM »
I put on approx. 7.6 oz. of sauce.   The three of us here consumed the pie in no time at all.  As you'll note, my favorite cut is the strip cut for a thin crust pizza, but the traditional squares are good, too.

Offline BTB

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2010, 10:56:44 AM »
The pizza crust for this second trial pie was good.  But the crust for that in the first trial that I did above was definitely better.  All three of us agreed, the lower hydration crust (46% vs. 60%) and the higher proportion of flour resulted in a much tastier and crispier pizza that more fit the "cracker crust" category.  The higher hydration dough while it rolled out easy enough gave me a lot problems rolling the dough up onto my rolling pin and onto the cutter pan.  It was a little tacky and stuck a lot together, resulting in a lot of tears in the dough skin that I had to repair before parbaking the skin. 

I first tried rolling out the dough on parchment paper, but the paper would not stay still and moved all about the counter when I tried to roll it out on the paper.  That proved too difficult.  So I did away with the paper, floured the countertop and rolled the dough out there, cut it to fit the 14" cutter pan, rolled it up onto the rolling pin, but struggled getting it off of the rolling pin onto the pan.  I had no problem doing so on the other hand with the lower hydration dough.

So while the second trial was a success, mine and others' tastes will lead me back to using the recipe that I originally used, which resulted in a very good pie.  This high hydration pie crust in the second trial just wouldn't crisp up enough for my tastes (after a pretty long par and regular bake).  Here's some of the tools that I use for thin crust pizzas.
                                                                                      --BTB

Online norma427

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2010, 02:55:13 PM »
BTB,

Your pies really look delicious!  :)  Would really like to taste a slice.

Nice to see how trials have proceeded.

Norma
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Offline orlando pizza man 1

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2010, 09:37:15 AM »
BTB- These pizzas look great! Are they close to any Chicago type thin crust pizzas that you have been making and if so which ones? I have been making pizzas for some time and have never seen such great recipes as the one that you and Loowaters  have got me hooked on. I stumbled onto this website and have been testing many of your great successes and I must say that you guys are the best with what you have been doing for pizza. Your Malnotti's with the semolina is fantastic! My wife couldn't believe that I was able to produce such a great deep dish pizza until now. I have been looking for a recipe that is close to Villa Nova's or if you have ever tried Johnny's that used to be in La Grange on 31 st street next to a gas station by La Grange road back in the 60's and into the early 80's. It was the best thin crust pizza we ever had growing up back then. I too now live in Florida and have been using my stand-by recipes since we could not find any good pizzas in Florida since we moved here back in 94. Which one of your thin crusts would be near what I am looking for? I have tried your thin crust with the semolina and have enjoyed that as well as Loo's Home Run Inn clone. I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to say so I can try another one of your great recipes again soon. I am definitely going to try this one as it appears to be an interesting variation on thin crust pizza. Thanks for your great recipes!! Keep up the great work!

Offline jgame

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Re: St. Louis (Imo's) Style Crust
« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2010, 07:59:57 PM »
BTB,

Having followed your success with a I'mos crust I'm willing to give it a try. For the low hydration dough what numbers (weight) do I use for the ingredients?

Thanks,
jgame


 

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