Author Topic: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?  (Read 698 times)

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Online orangeman1

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What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« on: July 21, 2014, 11:05:14 AM »
I've followed so many of the Chicago thin and cracker recipes but never really understood the reason. Compared to NY style, many of the Chicago thin recipes have massive amounts of oil and Crisco. Olive, vegetable, corn, etc., all in varying amounts.

If I want to tweak a formula, I would like to understand what it is that I am doing, and the cause and effect of making the change, and what each type of oil brings to the taste and texture.

It seems like most of the recipes are in the neighborhood of 50% hydration and then oil is added. I know the oil adds to the the hydration but performs a specific function. That is what I am trying to learn.

Thanks in advance.

Tom
« Last Edit: July 21, 2014, 11:15:52 AM by orangeman1 »


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2014, 01:06:12 PM »
Tom,

Our historians of the Chicago styles of pizza will no doubt give you a better answer but I understand that some Chicago-area pizzerias use the same dough for the thin style as for the deep-dish style. Maybe that set a pattern where some of those who specialize in only the thin style have continued with the high oil content for their doughs.

Peter

Offline Mad_Ernie

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 04:40:15 PM »
Tom:

As Peter said, there are probably more knowledgeable people here about the scientific rationale of the increased oil (fat) in a Chicago style thin crust pizza.  I'll give it a shot.  I think it is linked to deep dish pizza in that the explanation for adding more fat has a similar answer.

For that, we need a brief history lesson.  Any thin, crackery, Midwestern style pizza is the way it is due to history.  That is, in the 40's-60's, the Midwest did not have ready access to some of the ingredients that East-coasters did.  For example: high gluten flour was not as easy to come by.  And when someone said "pizza pie", the Midwesterner keyed in on what was familiar in that term: pie.  Midwesterners know pie.  What's in a pie crust?  A lot of fat (shortening/butter/oil).

Here is a link to some scientific explanation of fat used in pie crusts that ultimately leads to their texture and appearance that may be of some help: http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/07/the-food-lab-the-science-of-pie-how-to-make-pie-crust-easy-recipe.html

So basically, I think the reason for the larger fat content is the final texture of the crust.  You are almost frying the dough in a way with the dispersion of the fat with the flour, creating a carmalized color and a crispy texture.

That's my 2 cents, for what it's worth.

-ME
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Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2014, 04:56:07 PM »
I also believe the oil helps as a relaxer for sheeting. Without oil it wouldn't sheet very well.

Offline Garvey

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2014, 07:13:45 PM »
Paging the Dough Doctor!  :D

This is a question made for Tom Lehmann.

I'll disagree about the deep dish lineage.  DD was a style conceived long after other pizza was being made in Chicago.  I will also disagree with the "Midwesterners are yokels" theory that Mad Ernie served up.  Really, bro, there are 50M people in the Midwest.  We're not all that dumb.  :D  Nor is the Midwest some ingredient-less backwater, where we all sit around and pine for those New York ingredients that never make it west of the Hudson.

The real question is, what is the role of oil in dough?  From my own experience, I would agree with jeffereynelson.  Oil makes dough really easy to work with.  This dough is sheeted in restaurants or rolled out at home.  I.e., it isn't for tossing.  So besides extensibility, oil also adds texture, affects crumb, etc.  Again, forget the NY comparison.  It's a completely different animal.  The texture is much shorter, with less gluten and less chew.  You want to aim for something that is crispy and crackery on the bottom and softer on top.  There is also a LOT less dough per pizza.  No "bones" to discard, either.




Offline vcb

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2014, 08:41:00 PM »
"Dough Doctor" Tom Lehman has written an article about oil in dough that may be relevent to this thread:

http://www.pizzatoday.com/industry-news/oils-affect-dough/
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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2014, 09:27:22 PM »
Paging the Dough Doctor!  :D

This is a question made for Tom Lehmann.

I'll disagree about the deep dish lineage.  DD was a style conceived long after other pizza was being made in Chicago.  I will also disagree with the "Midwesterners are yokels" theory that Mad Ernie served up.  Really, bro, there are 50M people in the Midwest.  We're not all that dumb.  :D  Nor is the Midwest some ingredient-less backwater, where we all sit around and pine for those New York ingredients that never make it west of the Hudson.

The real question is, what is the role of oil in dough?  From my own experience, I would agree with jeffereynelson.  Oil makes dough really easy to work with.  This dough is sheeted in restaurants or rolled out at home.  I.e., it isn't for tossing.  So besides extensibility, oil also adds texture, affects crumb, etc.  Again, forget the NY comparison.  It's a completely different animal.  The texture is much shorter, with less gluten and less chew.  You want to aim for something that is crispy and crackery on the bottom and softer on top.  There is also a LOT less dough per pizza.  No "bones" to discard, either.
I`m going with Garvey 100% on this one but would also add that back in the day lard was king in these same day doughs and that added a lot of flavor to the pizzas.....
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline CDNpielover

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 02:18:16 PM »
I will also disagree with the "Midwesterners are yokels" theory that Mad Ernie served up.  Really, bro, there are 50M people in the Midwest.  We're not all that dumb.  :D  Nor is the Midwest some ingredient-less backwater, where we all sit around and pine for those New York ingredients that never make it west of the Hudson.

This.  Both pillsbury and general mills were located in Minneapolis, and I guess we're forgetting the the great lakes were the main ports for the entire country.


Offline Mad_Ernie

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 04:04:42 PM »
P Oil makes dough really easy to work with.  This dough is sheeted in restaurants or rolled out at home.  I.e., it isn't for tossing.  So besides extensibility, oil also adds texture, affects crumb, etc.  Again, forget the NY comparison.  It's a completely different animal.  The texture is much shorter, with less gluten and less chew.  You want to aim for something that is crispy and crackery on the bottom and softer on top.  There is also a LOT less dough per pizza.  No "bones" to discard, either.

Garvey:

Was this type of dough originally sheeted back when it was first used or did they hand roll it with a rolling pin?

-ME
Let them eat pizza.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2014, 04:10:06 PM »
Garvey:

Was this type of dough originally sheeted back when it was first used or did they hand roll it with a rolling pin?

-ME
before there were sheeters it was hand rolled.
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"


Offline Mad_Ernie

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2014, 09:46:21 AM »
before there were sheeters it was hand rolled.

You mean like a pie crust dough?  ;D :-D

- ME
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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2014, 11:53:30 AM »
You mean like a pie crust dough?  ;D :-D

- ME
and before there was rolling pins they prolly  jus used a rock or something.   :)
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline Garvey

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2014, 03:14:31 PM »
You mean like a pie crust dough?  ;D :-D

- ME

And pasta and rolls and cookies and candy and croissants and biscuits and...

Offline reeter

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2014, 08:23:03 PM »
I`m going with Garvey 100% on this one but would also add that back in the day lard was king in these same day doughs and that added a lot of flavor to the pizzas.....

And don't forget the stockyards, there was no shortage of animal fat in Chicago.

Offline vcb

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Re: What purpose does oil serve in Chicago thin?
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2014, 03:20:33 PM »
In the early years of pizza's history in America, there were a lot of oil and flour options available.

Chicago had access to Ceresota flour (aka Hecker's) as well as flour from the other mills in the midwest, like the ones CDN mentioned earlier.

As for oil, I'd say there were quite a few options there as well. Sure, you had access to beef and pig Lard, but also butter, margarine, shortening and other vegetable oils.

Here's some links that may be educational:

from http://www.cottonseed.com/publications/facts.asp  :

"Cottonseed oil has been a part of the American diet for well over a century. Until the 1940's, it was the major vegetable oil produced in the United States. Now, with annual production averaging more than 1 billion pounds, Cottonseed oil ranks third in volume behind soybean and corn oil representing about 5-6% of the total domestic fat and oil supply."


from: the holy book of aggregated collective knowledge and stuff (aka Wikipedia) -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetable_oil#History_in_North_America  :

"While olive oil and other pressed oils have been around for millennia, Procter & Gamble researchers were innovators when they started selling cottonseed oil as a creamed shortening, in 1911. Ginning mills were happy to have someone haul away the cotton seeds. Procter & Gamble researchers learned how to extract the oil, refine it, partially hydrogenate it (causing it to be solid at room temperature and thus mimic natural lard), and can it under nitrogen gas. Compared to the rendered lard Procter & Gamble was already selling to consumers, Crisco was cheaper, easier to stir into a recipe, and could be stored at room temperature for two years without turning rancid. (Procter & Gamble sold their fats and oils brands Jif and Crisco to The J.M. Smucker Co. in 2002.)"

Also check out -  http://www.foodtimeline.org/shortening.html
and
http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/how-vegetable-oils-replaced-animal-fats-in-the-american-diet/256155/

Palm oil has been around as a cooking oil for millennia. Ancient Egyptians used it.

Check out this USDA agriculture report about corn oil from 1920:
http://books.google.com/books?id=ruFP57x7foQC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=history+of+corn+oil+in+united+states&source=bl&ots=QLZwQZYeY3&sig=eaXaYwLtWu4gJLObPzdfgtQMABw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rk_VU7C_FdalyASx94K4Dg&ved=0CHgQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=history%20of%20corn%20oil%20in%20united%20states&f=false
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