Saturday, June 14, 2014

Old 'school' pizza

In the days before frozen pizza shells came in the market, sheet pan pizza was common in school dining rooms and military chow halls. I suspect that many camps still produce 'school' pizza. More efficient when feeding large numbers of campers, I prefer sheet pan pizza over frozen pizza shells. Using a basic dough recipe, four to eight sheets will feed 100 campers one or two slices per person.

The last meal of staff training week at Oakland Feather River Camp featured old 'school' pizza. Unlike last year, where we used 12-inch frozen pizza shells, this pizza was prepared from scratch, using a basic formula with 58 percent water and active dry year. While I generally favor instant yeast, we are using active dry yeast that I inherited from my predecessor.

We didn't mix the yeast, sugar and warm water until 10 a.m. Not one to be deterred by a late start, the dough was fermenting in the mixer bowl at 10:25. One hour later the baker divided the dough into five balls. Four of the dough balls weighted 2 pounds, 7-ounces. The smaller one came in at around 12 ounces.

After resting 10 minutes, each dough ball was rolled into a rectangle, sized to fit in 18 by 26-inch sheet pans. The smaller dough ball was rolled out for a half-sized sheet pan. Following instructions in Armed Forces Recipe Service card number L-165, each pizza was par-baked in a 450-degree convection oven for about 7 minutes.

After cooling briefly, we spread one quart pizza sauce over each pizza. Do not forget to dock the dough before baking (as we did!). Each pizza was then topped with about 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese and other toppings. Each pizza was returned to the oven for eight to 10 minutes.

Once removed from the oven, the pizzas cooled for 5 minutes before slicing. The larger pizzas were cut into 24 servings (4 by 6); the smaller one was cut into 12 servings (3 by 4). We prepared the following pizzas:
  • Ranch dressing with roasted garlic, shredded chicken and vegetables
  • Meat lovers with diced ham, bacon and Italian sausage (middle picture)
  • Italian sausage combination (top picture)
  • Cheese with mozzarella and Parmesan
  • Vegetarian (half sheet pan)

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