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Author Topic: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza  (Read 87988 times)

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Offline Jakew81

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Today I tried a new pizza.  This is an experiment and I have no idea what I am doing so please be kind.  Any tips or constructive criticism is welcomed!
I am just experimenting.  For months I have been getting really creative (toppings wise) with a great simple crusty dough on the grill.  I have with great success replicated what I feel is good deep dish and recently made a pizza hut clone that met rave reviews.  My son is now having a tough time deciding which of my pizzas has been his favorite.  He said almost every one I make is better than the last ( with a few exceptions).  With the help of this forum I feel light years ahead of where I was two months ago. 
Sadly the other night my six year old daughter said “I just want a Casey’s pizza!”  Ideally I would like to make my kids favorite gas station pizza, (Casey’s general store) and I am very fond of it too, but it is really just unlike anything else I have ever had anywhere else.  I would describe it as soft and chewy but I am not sure that gets across what I mean.   Anyone from Iowa and the greater Midwest knows what I am talking about.  If they have never had it, they are at least aware of the fondness many people have for the style, and their enormous marketing campaign in recent years.
I used to work there as a teenager, but really paid no attention to how it was made.  I do know that the dough is made in a floor mixer and put into a large food safe plastic bucket covered with a thin plastic bag.  From there I do not remember weighing or balling or anything.  Casey’s pizza is ran through a sheeter twice and docked, then placed on a perforated metal pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  It then gets a liberal helping of cheese and toppings and cooks in a conveyor oven for about 12-14 minutes.  The dough is light in color and soft and chewy.  This is what my daughter wants.
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Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2014, 08:11:45 PM »
I took some concepts and techniques and tweaked things to what I thought I could manage.  Very many from here, and many from other (probably) less knowledgeable sources on the internet.  I measured as best I could these arbitrary numbers I have slopped together.
I then reversed engineered (pretty close) my weights into the expanded dough calculator to try to come up these percents.
My final dough ball weighed about 21.5 ounces after I oiled it lightly.  I planned on using a 16 inch screen I purchased a couple of days ago, so I played around with the calculator to get a thickness of .102 and match my measurements.  I do not have a digital scale so the weights are rough measurements anyway.


Flour (100%):    358.59 g  |  12.65 oz | 0.79 lbs
Water (62.5%):    224.12 g  |  7.91 oz | 0.49 lbs
IDY (.5%):    1.79 g | 0.06 oz | 0 lbs | 0.6 tsp | 0.2 tbsp
Salt (1%):    3.59 g | 0.13 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.75 tsp | 0.25 tbsp
Vegetable (Soybean) Oil (2%):    7.17 g | 0.25 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.58 tsp | 0.53 tbsp
Sugar (1%):    3.59 g | 0.13 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.9 tsp | 0.3 tbsp
Total (167%):   598.85 g | 21.12 oz | 1.32 lbs | TF = 0.10506

I added my warm tap water and sugar in to the pan of my bread maker and after the yeast had started to work a little I added the oil flour and then salt.  I turned on the dough setting at let it go!  I was just sloshing the mixture around at first so I worked the edges in a little just to help it come together during the quick pulses of the “mixing” stage.  After it started to knead I let it go for about 10 minutes.  It balled up a lot better than I first expected. But once it stopped moving it slacked out and flattened against the bottom and stuck. 
I had to really work to get it out of the bowl and was the stickiest dough I have ever made.  By the time I was ready to put it in the fridge I realized my dough was not very warm and realized I may not have added enough yeast for a 24 hour cold rise if it started out cold.  I put my Tupperware bowl in the over with a measuring bowl of boiling water.  I came back to find an alarmingly warm oven and a cold dough ball, so I took both out and set the bowl on top of the warm water for a few minutes.  The top of the dough was not warm but the bowl was so I called it good enough and covered the bowl.  My little sticky blob then rested about 22 hours.
I took it out two hours before cooking and last night I seasoned the hell out of my new screen.
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Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2014, 08:26:17 PM »
I should note I used AP flour as that is what I believe Casey’s used to use.  Probably too much water but, what are you gonna do about it now?
When my dough was ready I put down some bench flour and slid it out of the bowl.  As I started to open it by hand I quickly discovered it did not need sheeting.  I easily opened it to 10 inches by just going around once.  The bench was in need of more flour but I couldn’t even pick it up.  I flopped it over on itself a little and dumped flour.  I was starting to panic as this is what I considered my first “real” dough. 
I finished opening to 16 inches and realized I was never going to cook this on a screen so I folded in half and heaved it on to 16 in aluminum plate.  I decided to par bake it.  The oven at 480F and I threw it in.  I asked my wife how long it had been and she said like 45 seconds but it felt like an eternity.  I think it was about two minutes before I pulled it out. 
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 11:35:10 PM by Jakew81 »
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Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2014, 08:56:28 PM »
Now, I spent a lot of effort seasoning that new screen and I was going to use it!  I flipped the essentially still raw dough upside down onto a cookie sheet and then back over onto  the screen quickly dressed it and went back in on the bottom rack.  Then we waited.
I used a quick sauce of canned crushed tomatoes with garlic, basil, and onion, mixed in some paste and that’s it.  The sauce was too flavorful for a Caseys pizza but were worried about the dough here.   Costco low moisture part skim mozzarella, and Hormel pepperoni.
I don’t really know how long I let it cook, around ten minutes but I checked the underside and the top was about perfect so I took it out.  It stuck just a hair on one side but a quick slide under with a spatula and it slid off the screen.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 11:35:55 PM by Jakew81 »
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Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2014, 09:10:41 PM »
The pizza is done!  I cut into it and passed one to my son one to my wife.  I waited.  No response.  I yelled “I’m waiting for a review here people.”  To which my wife said “If we are too busy to speak, I’d take that as a good sign.”   My son just gave me a thumbs up. So I took a slice. 
This pizza…oh this pizza.  It was good.  There are no words.  I am seriously not trying to brag, but I would buy this pizza.  My wife said “It’s really good but too much flour on the bottom”, she was right.  However I had panicked and know better now.  I didn’t want it to stick.
I gave it to my six year old daughter and she closed her eyes and smiled.  I asked is this the best pizza I’ve ever made and she said yes!  She said yes!  Then she said “But I’ve had better at Grandpa Jack’s house.” She ate ¾ of a slice and asked her brother if he wanted it because she was full.  That hurt, mainly because my father in law’s idea of homemade pizza is a generic “boboli”  pre made crust and sauce from a squeeze bottle. 
This pizza was good.  I am going to keep this recipe and maybe lower the hydration, and it’s close.  My technique got me a good pie but as my wife stated this would not work in a restaurant setting. 
I want to be able to recreate something, something made in a gas station by teenagers for god’s sake!
Anyone have any ideas or are familiar with a soft chewy flexible dough higher oil less water maybe?  Thank you!
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 11:37:35 PM by Jakew81 »
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Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2014, 11:39:20 PM »
It just occurred to me that if I just used a pan like they use in Casey's stores and hadn't been so eager to use my new screen this recipe probably would have been closer to what I am searching for and easier to do.  I will try this again without par baking, and in my small holed perforated pan.
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Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2014, 03:23:45 PM »
It just occurred to me that if I just used a pan like they use in Casey's stores and hadn't been so eager to use my new screen this recipe probably would have been closer to what I am searching for and easier to do.  I will try this again without par baking, and in my small holed perforated pan.
best advice you could give yourself....do not par bake that dough. your crust shows good action...jus try it once with new pan and no par bake.   ;)
btw, i have a pan like you descibe and used to make good pizzas with that thing.  :chef:
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Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2014, 04:35:21 PM »
Thanks Bob.  I really appreciate your encouragement and advice!  I just tried this formula with a little less water and a little more oil.  Feels a lot more on the money. It is resting in the fridge now and will try this in the perforated pan with no par bake tomorrow. 

Flour (100%):    360.75 g  |  12.73 oz | 0.8 lbs
Water (59.5%):    214.65 g  |  7.57 oz | 0.47 lbs
IDY (.5%):    1.8 g | 0.06 oz | 0 lbs | 0.6 tsp | 0.2 tbsp
Salt (1%):    3.61 g | 0.13 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.75 tsp | 0.25 tbsp
Vegetable (Soybean) Oil (4%):    14.43 g | 0.51 oz | 0.03 lbs | 3.18 tsp | 1.06 tbsp
Sugar (1%):    3.61 g | 0.13 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.9 tsp | 0.3 tbsp
Total (166%):   598.85 g | 21.12 oz | 1.32 lbs | TF = 0.10506

PS.  To whom it may concern. I will try not to use Iphone photos anymore, sorry!
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Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2014, 04:38:28 PM »
Thanks Bob.  I really appreciate your encouragement and advice!  I just tried this formula with a little less water and a little more oil.  Feels a lot more on the money. It is resting in the fridge now and will try this in the perforated pan with no par bake tomorrow. 

Flour (100%):    360.75 g  |  12.73 oz | 0.8 lbs
Water (59.5%):    214.65 g  |  7.57 oz | 0.47 lbs
IDY (.5%):    1.8 g | 0.06 oz | 0 lbs | 0.6 tsp | 0.2 tbsp
Salt (1%):    3.61 g | 0.13 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.75 tsp | 0.25 tbsp
Vegetable (Soybean) Oil (4%):    14.43 g | 0.51 oz | 0.03 lbs | 3.18 tsp | 1.06 tbsp
Sugar (1%):    3.61 g | 0.13 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.9 tsp | 0.3 tbsp
Total (166%):   598.85 g | 21.12 oz | 1.32 lbs | TF = 0.10506

PS.  To whom it may concern. I will try not to use Iphone photos anymore, sorry!
looks pretty good jake, how long did you mix that for?
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Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2014, 06:11:46 PM »
Thanks Bob. I let it mix on the dough setting in my bread machine and once it got to the constant kneading I let it go for about ten minutes.
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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2014, 06:38:21 PM »
Thanks Bob. I let it mix on the dough setting in my bread machine and once it got to the constant kneading I let it go for about ten minutes.
that`s about what i thought...go ahead and use this dough without the par bake...it`s going to be much better than the last.  ;)

but look....you want to mix the dough for like only 2 or 3 min....it will look lumpy...sorta like cottage cheese....that`s a good thing jake...as it develops it will smooth out...this is how you make lighter airy structure pizza dough rather than tight wonder bread type dough....which is what i think you are after here, right?   :chef:
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Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2014, 07:30:23 PM »
Bob, Thanks.  I am so glad I found this forum.  People here are awesome.  I will take your advice about only mixing for a couple of minutes to heart and try it out in the future.  That being said, this particular style I am trying to duplicate is actually very dense, and wonder bread like.  Not the best pizza on the planet, but I am pandering to a six year old at the moment.  The pizza I made last night was actually too much like a New York style to even be close to Caseys pizza.  The pizza I made last night was too good.   The picture I have posted is directly from the Casey's Facebook page and although it is not a great cross section you can see it is not light and airy.  Casey's docks there dough to ensure that it is not airy.  It is soft and doughy, almost under cooked, and what many may consider terrible pizza.  I have never made the connection but wonderbread is a good analogy.  I did mention in an earlier post it is hard to describe and no one else is making anything like it.  But we do like it, and has a big following in Iowa.  When i feel a little more comfortable I am going to try to make a real New York style on a really hot stone, and I am glad to know that I am over-mixing for other types of dough and appreciate that anyone has taken an interest.  Thanks again!
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2014, 07:44:48 PM »
Jake,

You posted on the American style board so can you tell me if a Casey's pizza is anything like a Papa John's pizza but maybe with a somewhat thinner crust? PJ docks its dough extensively but it doesn't run the dough through a sheeter or roller. Also, can you tell us what kind of oven is used at Casey's and a typical bake temperature?

Peter

Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2014, 08:19:12 PM »
Hi peter, I have just confirmed that the pizza is cooked at 465 F in a Lincoln Impinger Pizza Oven.  I believe it is electric and there are two levels of conveyors one above the other.  I am having a difficult time describing this pizza.  I say chewy but that is not what I have come to believe other people mean when they say chewy on this forum. It is NOT crispy at all except where the cheese hits the crust.  It is very soft and doughy, sometimes a little leathery.  When I asked my wife if she would consider this would be like a thinner papa johns she seemed confused.  Not really.  The flavor, texture, and crumb are completely different.  I chose to post this in american style mostly as it is big in the upper Midwest, and I couldn't find a better style to lump this in with.  The company's headquarters and distribution center is a 7 minute drive from my house.  It is everywhere around here but like I have stated it is really unlike anything else anywhere other than around here.  They have 1830 convenience stores around Iowa and surrounding states, and every one of them offers pizza by the slice from open to close.  Casey's biggest hits are breakfast pizza, taco pizza, supreme, and the two always in the rotating display are sausage and pepperoni.  They just opened their first stand alone pizza takeout and delivery store about 12 minutes away from my house.  I know this is a popular style as even on this forum I have seen people asking about Casey's "Iowa Style" pizza.   May I also personally thank you for everything you do for this forum!
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Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2014, 08:40:09 PM »
This is a list of ingredients for a cheese pizza.

PIZZA FLOUR - ENRICHED BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, MALTED FOLIC ACID), SUGAR, SOYBEAN OIL, WHEY, SALT, YEAST, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% DOUGH CONDITIONERS (L-CYSTEINE HYDROCHLORIDE, DICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM SULFATE, CALCIUM PEROXIDE, POTASSUIM BROMATE, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, MAGNESIUM CARBONATE)

PIZZA SAUCE - TOMATO PUREE (WATER, TOMATO PASTE), SOYBEAN OIL, SALT, SUGAR, SPICES, ONIONS, AND CITRIC ACID

NO KNOWN ALLERGENS

SHREDDED MOZZARELLA CHEESE -WHOLE MILK MOZZARELLA (PASTEURIZED MILK, CHEESE CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES), POWDERED CELLULOSE (TO PREVENT CAKING), POTASSIUM SORBATE AND NATAMYCIN (PRESERVATIVES).

This suggests to me that I do in fact need more sugar and oil. 
Now when I worked there I believe it was just AP flour, water, sugar, oil, salt, and yeast.  And then a bulk ferment in the walk in behind the beer and pop.  Very little working of the dough by hand.
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2014, 09:51:01 PM »
Jake,

Can you talk about how the dough is made and managed? For example, is the dough made at the store level and used the same day, without cold fermentation? And do you recall anything about dough ball weights?

In your case, what size pizza did you make, or would like to make? And can you tell me how many slices there are in a Casey's medium pizza?

Peter

Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2014, 10:37:59 PM »
Peter, I remember making dough a couple of times a week at the store in a floor stand mixer, and bulk fermenting in a plastic bucket.  It has been some time but I don't remember measuring out the dough or dough balling.  I believe we would just guesstimate, and cut from the dough out of the tub after a couple of days of cold fermentation.  We would dust it in flour, run it through the sheeter once, dust and turn a quarter and run it through again so it was roughly round.  Then we would dock it heavily and lay it over the sprayed pan.  We would cut off any excess and then push it in around the edge of the perforated pan to form a slightly raised crust.  No real hand stretching or shaping.  Even around here the pizza varies by location.  Sometimes it is way thinner and leathery, sometimes it is really thick and soft.  You tend to find a store you like.  My wife has been talking about one time years ago when there was more cheese than dough, and the cheese creeped up around and under the dough.  I have been known to drive past one Casey's to get pizza from another.  They are like Starbucks around here, one on every other corner.  Let's just say it varies from store to store, but the basics of the crust are pretty much the same.  I would know it by feel and I think I am getting close from the feel of the dough I made today... but I am often wrong when it comes to pizza dough.  I don't know the sizes other than there were 3 sizes of pans we would size the dough to.  I am fairly certain that the boxes they come in now are smaller then they were when I worked there and the prices are certainly much higher.  $ 16 for a large "specialty",    like a taco or supreme, I know that a small single topping used to be $5.  I have a 16 in pan I plan on using, and I think that is what a large used to be, but I suspect they have gotten slightly smaller.   The Larges are 8 slices and I believe the mediums are six.  I don't think I ever made a small pizza.
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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2014, 10:45:46 PM »
Jake,

Thank you.

I will have much more so say on this matter tomorrow.

Peter

Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2014, 10:55:55 PM »
Thank you Peter!  I'm sure I will too.
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Offline Jakew81

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Re: Attempt at making "Casey's General Store" gas station pizza
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2014, 11:28:46 PM »
Peter, I recently read this interview from you.
http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/12/who-is-pete-zza-from-pizzamaking-com.html?ref=search

I have found this article from the same site, that references 6 of my top 7 pizza places in the state.  (My family has said I make as good if not better deep dish than Felix and Oscar's; La Pizza House is not mentioned but worth mentioning in Des Moines) But this site says to check out Casey's breakfast pizza.  Proof (for me) this pizza is legit.
http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/12/the-united-states-of-pizza-iowa-best-pizza-des-moines-decorah-ames.html

And this guy was trying to work towards the same goal as I and must have had some knowledge of Casey's but was off due to same day use and no cold ferment.
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=23063.msg233760#msg233760
« Last Edit: July 20, 2014, 09:00:43 AM by Jakew81 »
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