Thanks for the info JLP. So this is categorized as a Sicilian style which is also different from a Pizza Romana? Excuse my ignorance, can you (or anyone else) explain the differences to me. They look similar though I'm sure they are different in some respects. Is one just an Italian or Roman version of the other?
This is a good topic. The normal North American signification of "Sicilian pizza" is any pizza baked in a rectangular pan. That's something like what we have on the sub-forum portal here. But I bet when this site started nobody realized how many (overlapping, but distinguishable) sub-styles this definition encompasses. The sub-terminology remains to be systematized in a way everybody can agree on, so I can only try to clarify how I use it.
Now, Pizza Romana is still exotica to me, but I can speak with more confidence about tomato pizzas as I've been eating them my entire life.
Anyhow, by "tomato pizza" (baker's pizza, tomato pie), I understand a pizza based on a dough made of bread or AP flour, baked on a pan, with lots of oil (in the pan, in the dough, and in or on the sauce), and topped of course with tomato sauce (which should contain oregano). This type of pizza almost always has a dense, whitebread-type crumb structure and is supposed to (it is better understood as a savory bread than as a pizza, at least in the North American sense of the term). See my own reply 11 to this thread for an ideal exemplar of the crumb. It is also supposed to be soft both on the inside and the outside (since it can be difficult to make them without getting a hard cornicone, in some cases the pie will be sauced as close to the edge of the pan as possible, and sometimes the cornicone will even be cut off altogether). It is usually ideally eaten at room temp, since it softens as it cools down (cooling also brings out a certain vibrancy in the tomato flavours for some reason). Slices may be re-warmed (not re-heated); an extra drizzle of oil may be used to keep the slice soft during re-warming.
Today these guidelines are ignored or altogether unknown; people use them as par-baked pizza bases or buy them topped with whatever from the baker and in either case bake it a second time at home until crunchy (something that nobody who doesn't actually want to experience the sensation of carrying a sack of wet cement in their stomach for several hours should try).
In any case, this style of pizza is supposed to be of Sicilian provenance, but must be rigorously distinguished from the original Sicilian sfincione
, which is made with semolina or potato flour, and has its own unique style of topping (see Norma's thread on the subject).
My knowledge of Pizza Romana is far more sketchy. By this term, I understand a pizza, made with a dough comprised of Italian flour grades I don't really understand yet, often leavened with natural starters, w/hydro levels in the 80-90% range, and developed (in commercial settings) in spiral mixers using a start-stop kneading method known as rigenero
which develops a tremendously strong gluten. Oil is used in these doughs, in varying amounts (that remain unclear to me). The resulting dough is formed and placed in a pan and baked at about 572 in an oven with user-definable top and bottom heat (in professional settings that is). The end result is a pizza with a wide open, soft crumb and an exterior that is crispy when removed from the oven and also when re-heated, but softer at room temp.
My experiment today was an attempt to hybridize the softness of the tomato pizza with the open crumb of the Romana, so it isn't an authentic representative of either style. But I like it...