Just as there are multiple variations on the perfect chocolate chip cookie, Roman Pizza as currently seen across the U.S. comes in a variety of iterations, sizes, and shapes. Some compare the Roman style crust to a classic Neapolitan, but others say it’s stretched thinner.
“Regardless of your idea of the perfect Roman style pizza, the crust is generally crispy, thick and has a more open, lace like crumb. The crust is the result of slow fermentation with a minimum of yeast,” explains Dave Krishock, bakery technical support manager for Grain Craft.
Detroit style seems to be the latest trend, whether that is gluten free, gluten full, made with cauliflower flour or some other ancient grain. While it is rising in popularity, Krishock adds, the unique crust of Detroit style does require a very specific water to flour ratio and involves working with a wetter dough than other crusts. Neapolitan style, thin crust pizzas are still the rage at upper end restaurants and local microbreweries.
From Grain Craft, Neapolitan Italian-Style Pizzeria flour features a finely ground wheat that is grown in the Rocky Mountain Foothills of Idaho. It is here that you will find an ideal combination of high altitude, rich volcanic soils and growing conditions similar to the agricultural regions of Italy.
This 00 type flour is the key to producing a light dough with dependable extensibility, the perfect rise and a soft thin crust — all without compromising old world quality or flavor.
Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza
Out of all the styles of pizza, King Arthur Baking Co. selected Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza as its 2020 Recipe of the Year. With its crispy golden edges, gooey layer of cheese (right to the edge!), and thick yet delicate crust, it has a texture and taste that make you want more. Plus, the crust has just five simple ingredients.
This recipe incorporates four baking “tricks.”
- An untraditional, nearly no-knead method of folding the dough creates airy pockets in the crust.
- An overnight refrigerated rest allows the dough time to develop maximum flavor.
- Baking in a cast iron pan makes an audibly crispy crust for your flavorful assortment of toppings.
- And finally, the unique layering of cheese beneath the sauce acts as a barrier to minimize sogginess.
Tom Santos is a field sales rep at General Mills Foodservice and part of an esteemed team of dedicated flour experts known as the Doughminators™ who are frequently tapped for their technical expertise with making pizza crust. He has more than two decades of experience as a bakery owner plus more than 20 years of sales field experience at General Mills, giving him a unique perspective to help solve customer’s challenges with flour and dough.
Chef Tim Trainor is a member of the Chefs of the Mills—specialized culinary professionals at General Mills Foodservice who immerse themselves in the industries they serve—offering training, ideas and inspiration to help operations succeed.
So, what do these experts see as the latest trends regarding popular pizza styles in America?
“A couple of pizza styles to take note of include Detroit-style pizza and high-heat, Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Detroit-style which has been popular in the Midwest is now showing up on the coasts, in the South and is really taking off,” Santos says.
“We’ve also seen the popularity of high-heat, Neapolitan or woodfire pizzas flourish in the last decade. It’s a trend that’s here to stay as pizza lovers like the thinner texture of this type of pizza that has a different chew. In response to demand, General Mills introduced a new European-style flour last year called Di Prim ‘Ordine Farina, specifically suited for this style of pizza. It’s milled from a select blend of wheat to ensure consistency and baking performance and is tolerant to wood-fired ovens.”
According to Trainor, the biggest movement seems to be with the Detroit Style which is a spinoff of the deep dish but in a rectangle nonstick pan, brick-style cheese, and sauce on the top.
“Although the single topping pizza is still king, pizzerias are changing up the experience with some creative recipes ideas due to commodities sometimes becoming unavailable over the last 15-18 months,” he explains. “Simple ideas that include upscale ingredients to the overall offering such as micro greens with differentiated proteins.”
In addition, the gluten-free trend is influencing pizza – both in terms of consumer demand and alternative production methods for pizza makers.
“Gluten-free pizza is no longer just for Celiac or gluten-intolerant consumers. It has become an alternative for people who may want to try something different from regular pizza,” Santos says. “For instance, cauliflower crusts pizza crusts are popping up on more menus across the country. The crust comes frozen and then topped at restaurant before baking.”
Gluten-free continues to be part of the pizza equation and operators are always seeking ways to meet all consumers’ needs, Trainor adds. While consumer demand for gluten-free options is high, the risk for back-of-house operations is higher.
“If you can dedicate your line or a part of your kitchen to gluten-free, you have to ensure the safest product you can,” he emphasizes. “Any touch points that come in contact with gluten are always a challenge in this world of pizza.”
The great thing about pizza is its versatility, there are so many options, Santos points out. “We are seeing more veggies and more natural toppings (e.g., goat cheese). There has also been an increase in dessert-style pizzas using ingredients such as Nutella, strawberries, and other fruits. It’s also been interesting to see some restaurants and pizzerias elevate pizza through the use of high end or unexpected ingredients like braised short rib topping or swap out traditional tomato sauce for pesto or olive oil.”
Trainor says that some pizzerias are changing up the experience with some creative recipes ideas due to commodities sometimes becoming unavailable over the last 15-18 months. Simple ideas that include upscale ingredients to the overall offering such as micro greens with differentiated proteins. In addition, the locally grown movement has more pizzerias utilizing local ingredients from nearby farms.
Looking ahead, how far can the natural and gluten-free movements go, and what are the implications for suppliers?
“These movements are taken seriously by suppliers and have major implications,” Santos says. “As consumers pay close attention to ingredients and seek out foods with minimal processing, suppliers play an important role in offering new “cleaner label” or natural alternatives to meet that demand. When it comes to flour, there are a myriad of options including cleaner label options. At General Mills, we work closely with our customers who want to transition to a cleaner label option to identify the best flour to meet their needs and also provide the necessary education to get the consistency and baking performance they are looking for.
What about convenience – how is this influencing how pizza is made, and the types of pizzas that are most popular?
Whether offering a full pie or by the slice, Santos says, consumers see pizza as familiar and quick. If an operator can turn out a pizza in three to four minutes and it is good quality, they have the model nailed. Otherwise, operations may consider running a slice program and keep working on the whole pizza program as best they can.
“You see pizza everywhere! It has exploded as an appetizer at fast casual and even high-end restaurants,” he says. “From the “Bar Pizza” to flatbread pizzas at hotel restaurants to pizza deliveries at the beach, large warehouse stores and “bakery pizza,” pizza is just so versatile. It’s as convenient to make as it is to eat! As consumers continue to seek out convenient, portable and grab and go options, pizza will continue to reign as a top menu item.”