Monday, April 30, 2012

The Pizza Trilogy Goes Quad.

I've been out here in Utah for three years come May. It seems that no matter where I go, pizza seems to be the same style - thick and bready; very little sauce, heavy on the cheese, light on the toppings. Being a New Yorker, this is a mystery to me and I constantly ask, "Why?" The answers vary from "it's the water", "it's the altitude" to "we can't get the same flour here as they use out East". That last one really makes my eyes cross. I make my own pizza at home, use the local water, granted the altitude is 7100 feet above sea level, but white flour is white flour.

Then one day it dawned on me so brightly; the pizzerias in Utah are making their crust out of Focaccia bread dough. This dough is kneaded only once, punched down, topped and left to rise again; hence the thicker and breadlike texture. Pizza dough is kneaded twice, once before and once after rising. It is stretched out to a 1/4 inch thickness after the second kneading, then topped and baked.

So the pizza trilogy went: Neapolitan,
Chicago Style and

Now we have a fourth style - Utah's Focaccia Style Pizza. I guess if this is what you've grown up on, have never experienced pizza from different regions, then this is the best that you'll ever find. Personally, bread is bread, pizza is pizza and Utah style pizza leans more towards being a fancy bread than an actual pizza.

Focaccia Bread


3 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 (.25 oz) packet active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water (110 F)
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided by 2 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp

Optional Ingredients: chopped fresh herbs, shredded or grated cheeses, thinly sliced or diced vegetables


Into a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt; make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Sprinkle in the sugar and dry yeast; carefully pour in the water; let stand for 5 minutes while yeast begins to react. Add 2 Tbsp of oil and carefully begin stirring the flour into the wet center gradually incorporating all the flour.

Place dough on floured board and knead until smooth. Brush ½ tsp of remaining olive oil into a clean bowl; place dough in bowl and turn once to coat both sides with oil. Cover with a clean linen towel and let dough rise for one hour.

Brush a teaspoon of oil onto a jelly roll or round pizza pan. Punch the dough down and place onto the pan; press the dough out to a ½ inch thickness. Brush with remaining olive oil; with tip of index finger, or handle tip of a wooden spoon, dimple the dough in 2 inch spaces. Sprinkle or place optional ingredients on top of dough; let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F; bake bread for 25-30 minutes; until browned on top. Remove to wire rack to cool slightly; best served warm.

Makes one bread.

Mary Cokenour