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Author Topic: Thin Crust History  (Read 2252 times)

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Offline DustinA

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Thin Crust History
« on: June 26, 2018, 11:27:41 AM »
I need some help.  I've been researching the history of pizza and I can see the lineage of the Neapolitan making it's way to New York.  I can find all kinds of information on sfincione leading to the Sicilian pizza and eventually the deep dish of Detroit.

For the life of me though, I can't find anything on thin or cracker crusts.  I can find all kinds of company histories for their version or recipe of thin crust pizza, but where did the dish originate?  Who made it first and how did it come to be what it is today?

Anyone happen to have any info or resources I could check out?

Offline bobgraff

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2018, 08:39:23 PM »
I've always assumed that the style originated in Chicago due to (again - my assumption) the thin style being more prevalent in the midwest.

There's some history about Columbus pizza here, along with some links to additional historical pizza articles.

Best of luck with your search!
Bob

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Offline Mad_Ernie

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2018, 11:20:37 PM »
The earliest I am aware of documentation in the US of a thin, cracker-like crust for pizza was Shakey's in 1954 in Sacramento, CA.  I am not sure who at Sherwood "Shakey" Johnson's first bar/restaurant came up with the recipe and where he/she might have gotten it from. 
https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/pizza-history-dominos-pizza-hut-little-caesar-s-facts-thrillist-nation


It is clearly a different animal than the pizza that was developed at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago in the early 1940's and the pizzas that were first sold in New York in the early 20th century.  The Wikipedia entry for the History of Pizza says the D'Amore family introduced pizza in Los Angeles in 1939 but does not specify what kind of pizza.

The cracker/thin-crust pizza typically contains a fairly higher fat content and lower hydration than its East Coast cousin, either by use of oils, shortening, butter, or a combination of these ingredients. Because of its predominance in the Midwest and West Coast in the 1950s, I have often wondered if it was created by people who were familiar with pizza from other places but did not have access to the ingredients or knowledge of how pizza was made in New York, Connecticut, etc. and they therefore went with something that was more familiar to the region, such as a kind of pie crust (pizza pie).  That is just a theory, but I have no hard facts to base it on.  For example, servicemen who served in Italy and returned to the Midwest may have experienced pizza, but only had a bare working knowledge of how it was made and perhaps little access to ingredients like high gluten flour. So if they wanted to open a bar and serve some food, creating pizza as best they could remember with what they had available might have resulted in a cracker-style crust.
Let them eat pizza.

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2018, 04:13:20 PM »
From the following source, which appears to be an obituary posting for Sherwood Johnson, https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/la.eats/IROkJBbDcqo/lpAsWZo4fKIJ

"Four years later, he and Ed Plummer -- a college friend and fishing
buddy -- each put in $850 and rented a defunct mom-and-pop grocery store
at 57th and J streets to open a neighborhood draft beer place.

They later added pizza, using a recipe Mr. Johnson knew from his
childhood, some of which he spent serving as a recipe interpreter
between Italian housewives and his mother, who was Swedish.


"With the pizza, the business exploded," he told reporters"

Now when I research Italian pizza or Swedish pizza I don't see anything remotely close to Shakey's pizza. It's my understanding that prior to Shakey's, no one had sheeted a yeast levened dough which wasn't a pastry of some sort. So my suspicion is Sherwood took the techniques of dough lamination with fat (butter, olive oil, etc.), commonly found in Italian/Swedish desserts and applied the technique to pizza dough.

Offline Mad_Ernie

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2018, 11:15:23 AM »
Now when I research Italian pizza or Swedish pizza I don't see anything remotely close to Shakey's pizza. It's my understanding that prior to Shakey's, no one had sheeted a yeast levened dough which wasn't a pastry of some sort. So my suspicion is Sherwood took the techniques of dough lamination with fat (butter, olive oil, etc.), commonly found in Italian/Swedish desserts and applied the technique to pizza dough.

I think you have something there, Dan.  I always equated this style of crust to being somewhat akin to regular pie dough (pizza pie?) due to the nature of the fat (butter, lard, etc.) used in the dough and the way it was rolled out or laminated.  The Swedish influence makes sense, because there were a fair number of Swedes who also settled in the Midwest, particularly around Illinois and Wisconsin, which would explain the cracker-style pizza crust there, something those folks would have more familiarity with than the Neapolitan style dough.
Let them eat pizza.

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Offline bobgraff

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2018, 07:58:03 PM »
From the following source, which appears to be an obituary posting for Sherwood Johnson, https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/la.eats/IROkJBbDcqo/lpAsWZo4fKIJ

"Four years later, he and Ed Plummer -- a college friend and fishing
buddy -- each put in $850 and rented a defunct mom-and-pop grocery store
at 57th and J streets to open a neighborhood draft beer place.

They later added pizza, using a recipe Mr. Johnson knew from his
childhood, some of which he spent serving as a recipe interpreter
between Italian housewives and his mother, who was Swedish.


"With the pizza, the business exploded," he told reporters"

Now when I research Italian pizza or Swedish pizza I don't see anything remotely close to Shakey's pizza. It's my understanding that prior to Shakey's, no one had sheeted a yeast levened dough which wasn't a pastry of some sort. So my suspicion is Sherwood took the techniques of dough lamination with fat (butter, olive oil, etc.), commonly found in Italian/Swedish desserts and applied the technique to pizza dough.


I'd be surprised if the thin crust style generally came from Swedish origins, though that might be true of Shakey's (nice article, btw).

Found an article on The History of the Bar Pie on pizzatoday.com that might be of interest.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 05:13:00 PM by bobgraff »
Bob

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Offline DNA Dan

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2018, 07:37:28 PM »
Thanks Bob. That was very interesting. Looking at the pie's over at Eddie's. . . . . It looks like a laminated dough, but appears unleavened. This makes it more like a saltine cracker. Perhaps they just use a chemical leaven instead of yeast? I would imagine with the skins that thin, if there was yeast in the dough it would be much more puffy like a pita bread. These are very flat and crispy. Need to find an underside shot to see if the dough is heavily docked. I don't see many visual signs that a "bubble popper" was used on the top. FWIW, they only have a 3.5 out of 5 stars on Yelp. Ever have this pizza?

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2018, 07:48:15 PM »
Interestingly, the pies at the next place, Lynwood Cafe looks like this .. . . .Touted as being "bar-style", this looks like a Chicago deep dish style to me. You can see how straight the crust is at the rim. I suspect this one is an undermixed, undeveloped dough that is baked in a pan.

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2018, 07:58:52 PM »
Margot's Pizza, is again back to that very thin, very flat profile. Their website has some good shots https://margotspizza.com/  This one actually looks pretty appealing in the photos, I however prefer a little more "bite" in my crust. Something I can sink my teeth into. Pizza looks like it was die cut, not sure about lamination. It may have been rolled thin on a sheeter, but not sure if there was any folding going on.

The last place, Star Tavern looks really good too. http://startavern.net/photos.html They have some great shots on their website showing various profiles. Again this one is thin and FLAT. I almost want to say a quick dough with a little baking powder in it rolled thin is what these look like. I don't think they are laminated. I didn't even know "Bar-style" was a thing!

Offline satchel

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2018, 11:47:38 PM »
I know from research and being originally from Illinois a bit about Chicago tavern style pizza. Tavern style pizza originally came about as a snack in bars for factory workers. Early 1900ís - when they got off their shift, many would hit local taverns. In order for them to keep drinking more, thin crust pizzas cut into little squares were served. Often heavy on the salt. Thus having another round :-D

Thin crust is a staple in the Midwest. As for the origins, many have different thoughts. Many of these taverns were owned by Italians.

Most kids I knew who grew up near Chicago or the burbs considered thin crust the true Chicago pizza - not deep dish. It was more of a tourist thing. Weíd eat it once or twice a year, but our go-to pizza was tavern style thin crust.

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Offline invertedisdead

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2018, 12:33:04 PM »
What's the consensus on thin & crispy? Is this a California innovation or a Midwest thing? I grew up in the Midwest so thin and crispy party cut pizzas are in my blood, but they seem to have pretty solid history here in California too.
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Offline TOSHIO

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2018, 09:22:32 AM »
The upper midwest has Sammy's pizza, thin crust, balls are run through a motorized roller system, doesn't seem to be baked at a very high temperature as it is a 15 minute bake or so in gas fired deck ovens, square cut, thin herbal sauce, .. chain started in 1954 based on Chicago roots, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sammy%27s_Pizza

Offline scott r

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2018, 11:22:40 AM »
Interestingly, the pies at the next place, Lynwood Cafe looks like this .. . . .Touted as being "bar-style", this looks like a Chicago deep dish style to me. You can see how straight the crust is at the rim. I suspect this one is an undermixed, undeveloped dough that is baked in a pan.

your right about the pan... they use a butter flavored pan spray.     I think the dough is well mixed, but what gives it that unusual look is lots of milk and fat in the dough.   White cheddar cheese and Stanislaus tomatoes with a touch of rosemary.   This is classic southern New England bar style pizza at its finest.   

Offline satchel

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2018, 10:51:06 PM »
What's the consensus on thin & crispy? Is this a California innovation or a Midwest thing? I grew up in the Midwest so thin and crispy party cut pizzas are in my blood, but they seem to have pretty solid history here in California too.


I personally think it originated where they came from in Italy. Providing original creators at establishments were Italian. Certain parts of New Jersey also have thin. Wisconsin as well. Iím originally from Illinois and deep dish was actually created by a non-Italian who wasnít even from the state. Transplant. Kids from Illinois didnít grow up on deep dish. It was something weíd have once or twice a year or when relatives came to visit.

As an aside, I get a kick out of the thread here that is ďChicago StyleĒ For most of us - Chicago style is thin and crispy, not bread.

On YouTube there is a Vito and Nicks (Chi thin crust) video. The owner - granddaughter- discusses how her grandfather or father came back from Italy and said they needed to make the crust even thinner and crispier.

Offline satchel

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2018, 10:54:34 PM »
Thanks to this forum, Iíve worked on my tavern style for 3 years now. Using Monicalís crust they reverse engineered. From this weekend:


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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2018, 08:12:54 AM »
satchel,

Very nice. Can you point us to the particular recipe you used? Thanks.

Peter

Offline joelweb

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2019, 10:47:41 PM »
I grew up in Oregon and have always thought of the laminated style cracker crust as west coast or northwest style pizza. Iíve never seen it elsewhere, and itís still common in Oregon and Washington. I know that Shakeyís was created in 1954 in Sacramento, but I think itís also important to note all of the other laminated pizza places in Oregon and Washington.

Pietroís was founded in 1957 in the state of Washington and built up to 30 franchises. I grew up eating their amazing pizza until it went downhill in the late eighties when the franchise was sold and they changed their recipe. One of the original owners of Pietroís opened a place called Padingtonís Pizza in Salem, Oregon, and I believe it still uses the original Pietroís recipe to this day. They make the best laminated pizza that I know of. I always make a stop when I go back to Oregon to visit family.

Other notables include Abbyís at 36 locations, JCís in Keizer, Waleryís in West Salem, the Home Place in Silverton, and Papa Peteís at a couple locations in SW Washington. All of these pizza places have been around for decades, and Iím sure there are others that I do not know of.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2019, 10:57:30 PM by joelweb »

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2019, 04:29:00 PM »
It is Roma style originally.  In truth, it was probably done all over the world:  Thin crust made by slapping dough on a hot rock with stuff on top.

Offline satchel

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2019, 08:52:29 PM »
satchel,

Very nice. Can you point us to the particular recipe you used? Thanks.

Peter

Hi Peter,

Apologies for late reply. This is the recipe used. Itís from here in the Monicals thread.

Flour - 2 and 3/4 cups flour. I usually just use a full 3 cups

Water - 3/4 cup. I use a full cup. Warm water Yeast - Heaping 1/4 teaspoon. Pinch of Sugar

In my Kitchen Aid, I mix water, yeast, and pinch of sugar. Mix for a few minutes and then let sit for about 5 minutes.

Add half of flour to water and let mix. I use the dough ring on Kitchen Aid. Add rest of flour. As the dough mixes and tries to form a ball, you will think there is no way this recipe will work. Itís so dry. When I look down into the bowl and see clumps of flour that arenít mixing, I slowly start to add a little water at a time. Not too much.

I put the kitchen aid on high and have to hold down the top because it starts to shake. I wish I had a restaurant mixer for this dough. Tonight when I made the dough, I did add a little olive oil when it was super dry and needed more moisture.

I continue to mix for a while until itís not sticky, nearly in a ball, and smooth with no lumps.
Then I take it out and form it into a better ball, place it into a bowl, cover with Seran wrap and then a kitchen towel over the plastic. I let it rise for about 3-4 hours. Sometimes I set it on the stove top with the oven on like 190 to get it to rise faster.

After its risen after several hours, I toss it and form round pizza skins. You need a roller for this. You canít form thin crust with just your hands. I add more flour to the dough as I roll it out. I ordered a stack of 12 inch cardboard cake circles from amazon. After my first pizza looks rolled out enough, I flour the cake circle and place dough over it. Then I take scissors and cut dough around circle. At this point, you will notice your dough may start to shrink away from the edges. I pop it in the freezer for like 2 minutes if this happens. Then I roll the 2nd one out. From leftover dough, I can usually make 1 more thin crust. After each one spends a few minutes in freezer, I wrap each cake circle with crust invidually. First wrap each one with plastic wrap and I tape down under it. Then I wrap each one with a plastic shopping bag over the Saran Wrap. I stack each 3 in the fridge and let them sit that way for several days. Thatís what Monicals does.

After three years of making pizza crust from my childhood, Iíd like to add some salt. When do you add salt to the recipe? Iíve read that adding with yeast and water cuts out the yeast. Also, how much salt do you think I should use with this recipe?

Thank you! I think you reverse engineered part of this recipe in the Monicalsí thread.

Offline satchel

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Re: Thin Crust History
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2019, 08:58:16 PM »
If you watch Vito and Nickís video several times you hear that her father came home from the war and had a new recipe. Italy. I have no doubt it was popular at a time throughout parts of the US. In the Midwest, we grew up on this crust.

Itís interesting viewing the pizza sub on reddit. Itís so much crust! Like Rose says at Vito and Nicks: If I want to eat bread, Iíll eat bread.

Exactly how I feel.

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