Delve into the world of pizzas where the battle of crusts reigns supreme: handmade pan vs hand tossed. This article uncovers the unique aspects of these beloved pizza styles, from their distinct textures and flavors to their historical roots. Join us as we slice through the differences, offering insights for both the pizza aficionado and the curious diner.
What Is a Hand-Tossed Pizza?
Hand-tossed pizza is deeply rooted in traditional Italian pizza-making practices, cherished for its light, airy crust. The art of hand-tossing the dough, an iconic method, involves stretching and spinning the dough in the air. This technique introduces air pockets, resulting in a crust that’s thin, flexible, yet slightly crispy.
The hand-tossed pizza balances the flavors of the toppings with the natural taste of the dough, often slightly charred from the high-temperature baking. It’s thinner compared to the pan pizza, offering a more balanced ratio of crust to toppings. This style is favored by pizza enthusiasts who appreciate the classic, authentic feel of a pizza that’s both flavorful and not overly filling.
What Is a Handmade Pan Pizza?
A handmade pan pizza stands out with its thick, fluffy crust, a result of the dough being allowed to rise in a deep, oiled pan. This style of pizza, primarily popularized in the United States, features a distinctive crust that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
The use of a heavily oiled pan not only prevents the dough from sticking but also contributes to its unique fried-like texture on the bottom and edges. The dough for a handmade pan pizza is richer in yeast and sugar, facilitating a more pronounced rise and yielding a chewier texture.
Accommodating a hearty layer of toppings and cheese, this pizza style is known for its robust and satisfying character. It’s a go-to choice for those who favor a more substantial and filling pizza experience.
How to Make a Hand-Tossed Pizza
Making a hand-tossed pizza involves a blend of skill, technique, and the right ingredients to achieve that classic, authentic taste and texture.
- Ingredients: Start with basic pizza dough ingredients – flour, yeast, water, salt, and a bit of olive oil.
- Mixing and Kneading: Combine the ingredients and knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic. This develops the gluten, which is crucial for a stretchable dough.
- First Rise: Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. This usually takes about 1 to 2 hours.
Tossing the Dough
- Flattening: Begin by flattening the risen dough into a circular shape on a lightly floured surface.
- Tossing Technique: Lift the dough and start tossing it in the air, using your knuckles and the backs of your hands to stretch it. The goal is to create a thin, even base with a slightly thicker edge or crust.
- Practice and Patience: Hand-tossing takes practice. The key is to be gentle yet quick to prevent tearing the dough.
Topping and Baking
- Adding Toppings: Once the base is ready, spread a layer of pizza sauce, leaving a margin around the edge for the crust. Add cheese and your desired toppings.
- Baking: Bake in a preheated oven at a high temperature (ideally around 475°F or 245°C) until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly, usually about 10-15 minutes.
How to Make a Pan Pizza
Creating a pan pizza involves a different approach, focusing on achieving a thick, fluffy crust with a crispy bottom.
- Ingredients: Similar to hand-tossed pizza dough but with a bit more yeast and sugar to aid in rising.
- Mixing and Kneading: Mix the ingredients and knead until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.
- First Rise: Let the dough rise until it doubles, which may take longer due to the higher yeast content.
Preparing the Pan
- Choosing the Right Pan: Use a deep, round pizza pan or a cast-iron skillet. The pan’s depth is crucial for the thick crust.
- Oiling the Pan: Generously coat the pan with oil. This oil is key to achieving the crispy, fried-like texture of the crust.
Shaping and Baking the Dough
- Pressing the Dough: Press the risen dough evenly into the oiled pan, ensuring it reaches the edges.
- Second Rise: Allow the dough to rise in the pan for an additional 15-30 minutes to get that thick, airy crust.
- Topping and Baking: Add sauce, cheese, and toppings. Bake at a slightly lower temperature than a hand-tossed pizza, around 425°F (220°C), for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are cooked.
7 Differences Between Hand-Tossed vs Handmade Pan Pizza
The distinctions between hand-tossed and handmade pan pizzas extend beyond just the preparation methods. They each have unique characteristics that affect their taste, texture, and overall dining experience.
Hand-Tossed: The texture of a hand-tossed pizza is notable for its light, airy crust. The tossing process introduces air pockets, resulting in a crust that’s thin and slightly crispy, yet flexible.
Handmade Pan: In contrast, handmade pan pizzas offer a thick, chewy crust with a crispy exterior, thanks to the deep, oiled pan in which the dough is baked. The pan ensures even cooking and a denser texture that’s heartier than its hand-tossed counterpart.
Hand-Tossed: The taste of a hand-tossed pizza often highlights the natural flavors of the dough and the toppings. The crust’s thinner profile and slight char from high-temperature baking add a subtle smokiness.
Handmade Pan: Handmade pan pizzas, on the other hand, tend to have a richer, more robust flavor. The thicker crust and the oil in the pan contribute to a pronounced taste, often described as heartier and more indulgent.
3. Crust Thickness
Hand-Tossed: Hand-tossed pizzas typically feature a thinner crust, especially towards the center, with a slightly puffed-up edge. This thinness allows the toppings to play a more central role in the pizza’s flavor profile.
Handmade Pan: The crust of a handmade pan pizza is significantly thicker, offering a bread-like consistency. This thickness provides a different eating experience, where the crust plays a major role in the overall taste and texture.
4. Oil Content
Hand-Tossed: Hand-tossed pizzas generally have minimal oil content, primarily used in the dough or lightly brushed on the crust. This results in a lighter, less greasy feel.
Handmade Pan: The handmade pan pizza, conversely, is characterized by a higher oil content due to the heavily oiled pan. This not only affects the texture, making the bottom of the crust crispy and fried-like, but also adds to the richness of the flavor.
5. Cooking Time and Technique
Hand-Tossed: Hand-tossed pizzas are typically baked at a higher temperature for a shorter period. This quick baking process gives the crust its characteristic light and crispy texture.
Handmade Pan: Due to the thicker crust, handmade pan pizzas require a longer cooking time at a slightly lower temperature. This ensures that the crust is cooked through without burning, resulting in a soft, chewy middle and a crispy bottom.
Hand-Tossed: The toppings on a hand-tossed pizza are usually more balanced with the crust, avoiding overloading to maintain the crust’s thinness and texture. The emphasis is on the harmony between the crust and the toppings.
Handmade Pan: Handmade pan pizzas can accommodate a more generous amount of toppings and cheese due to their thicker crust. This allows for a more substantial and hearty topping layer, making it a preferred choice for those who like their pizzas loaded.
Hand-Tossed: The dough for hand-tossed pizza is leaner, with a lower yeast content, resulting in a less pronounced rise. It’s also more hydrated, which aids in achieving the stretchable, thin crust.
Handmade Pan: The dough for a handmade pan pizza is richer, containing more yeast and sugar. This results in a more significant rise, essential for creating the thick, fluffy base characteristic of pan pizzas.
Each of these differences contributes to the unique appeal of hand-tossed and handmade pan pizzas, catering to a wide range of tastes and preferences among pizza lovers.
The world of pizza is diverse, with regional interpretations adding unique twists to both hand-tossed and handmade pan pizzas.
Hand-Tossed Pizza Varieties
- New York-Style: This iconic hand-tossed pizza is known for its thin, flexible crust, allowing it to be folded. Topped typically with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, it’s a testament to simplicity and flavor.
- Neapolitan Pizza: Originating from Naples, Italy, this is the quintessential hand-tossed pizza. With a thin crust, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil, it adheres to strict traditional standards.
- California Pizza: Known for its creative and non-traditional toppings like BBQ chicken, artichoke hearts, or goat cheese, California pizza uses the hand-tossed method to create a light, yet flavorful base.
Handmade Pan Pizza Varieties
- Chicago Deep Dish: Perhaps the most famous variant of the handmade pan pizza, the Chicago deep dish is almost pie-like, with a high edge and generous layers of cheese, toppings, and sauce.
- Detroit-Style Pizza: Characterized by its square shape and thick crust, this pizza has toppings spread to the edge, and the cheese caramelizes against the sides of the pan, creating a crispy crust.
- Sicilian Pizza: Also known as “sfincione,” this variety features a thick crust and is typically topped with tomato sauce, onions, anchovies, and herbs, then covered with breadcrumbs and grated cheese.
Consumer preferences between hand-tossed and handmade pan pizzas vary widely, influenced by regional tastes, individual palate preferences, and cultural factors.
In regions like New York or Italy, where pizza has a long-standing tradition, consumers often prefer the classic, thin-crust hand-tossed pizza for its authentic taste and lightness.
In contrast, areas like Chicago or Detroit, which have developed their unique styles of thick-crust pizza, have a strong preference for the hearty and filling handmade pan pizzas.
Age and Lifestyle Factors
Younger demographics, especially in urban areas, tend to favor hand-tossed pizzas for their convenience, ease of eating (like grabbing a slice on the go), and the variety of available toppings.
Families or those seeking a more substantial meal might lean towards handmade pan pizzas, as they offer a more filling option with generous toppings.
Health and Dietary Considerations
Health-conscious consumers often gravitate towards hand-tossed pizzas due to their thinner crust and the perception of them being a lighter option.
Handmade pan pizzas, with their thicker crust and higher cheese and toppings content, are sometimes viewed as a more indulgent choice.
Cultural and Culinary Trends
The rise of gourmet and artisanal pizza places has boosted the popularity of hand-tossed pizzas, with a focus on high-quality ingredients and traditional baking methods.
Conversely, the comfort food trend has seen a resurgence in the popularity of handmade pan pizzas, with people seeking out the satisfying and familiar taste of a thick, cheesy pizza.
In summary, while hand-tossed pizzas are often preferred for their authentic, traditional appeal and lighter eating experience, handmade pan pizzas are chosen for their heartiness and comfort food qualities. This diversity in preferences highlights the versatile and universally beloved nature of pizza.
In the culinary realm of pizzas, the debate between handmade pan and hand-tossed styles reflects a broader diversity of tastes and preferences. While each has its unique qualities, the choice often boils down to personal preference. Whether you’re a fan of the thick, hearty crust of a handmade pan pizza or the traditional, balanced feel of a hand-tossed pizza, there’s no denying the universal appeal of this timeless dish.