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Pan Pizza – Characteristics, History, and General Preparation

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What is pan pizza, what are its defining characteristics and historical background, what can you expect when eating it, and how is it generally prepared? This post will provide you with all the details about pan pizza

General Background and Characteristics

A pan pizza can have different shapes and sizes, but they all share one thing in common – they are baked in a pan.

One of the most well-known pan pizzas internationally (outside Italy, at least) is Pizza Hut’s pan pizza. Other popular types of pan-baked pizzas include Sicilian pizza, Al Talio, Detroit pizza, Chicago deep dish, and thin pizzas from the Midwest region of the US. We will discuss these in more detail later in this post.

Although it is commonly believed that pan pizza is an American invention, as we will see later, its origins can actually be traced back to Italy.

Roots and History of Pan Pizza

Since it is a more general style of pizza, tracing its origins (compared to the Margherita and marinara) can be challenging. The pan pizza likely originated from adaptations and the introduction of new cooking tools into Italian kitchens over the years. These tools led to “experiments” with using pans to make pizzas or other types of flatbreads, which were commonly baked in Italy.

One explanation for the origin of pan pizza (both globally and in Italy) can be traced back to Palermo in the 19th century, where a dish known as Sfincione originated. Sfincione was essentially a flatbread baked in a square pan and topped with tomato sauce, onion, cheese, and anchovies. It is believed that most types of pan pizzas in the US also come from Sfincione. The Sfincione “turned” into the modern Sicilian pizza in the early 1920s in the US (more about Sicilian pizza will be discussed later in this post).

Pan pizza quickly gained popularity in both Italy and the US over the years and became a fundamental element of American pizza culture during the 20th century.

Eating Characteristics of Pan Pizza

Due to the wide variety of pan pizza styles, the eating experience can vary greatly. This includes thick crusts that may be light and airy or dense and chewy, as well as thin and crispy pan pizzas that resemble crackers.

However, one thing that remains constant across all pan pizzas is the crispy bottom. Most pan pizza styles involve coating the pan with oil, resulting in a crunchy bottom with a distinct fried flavor. So, if you’re craving a pizza with a crispy bottom, pan pizza is the perfect choice for you.

Preparation of Pan Pizza

There are many different styles of pan pizza, each with its own distinct method of preparation. Some pan pizzas are fermented directly in the pan, while others are first shaped into a pizza crust and then transferred to the pan just before baking. Some pan pizzas are baked in round pans, while others are baked in square pans. However, the one shared characteristic among all pan pizzas is that they are baked in a pan, typically coated with a layer of oil.

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