What is Pizza in Teglia?
Steely Pan: A Look at the Authentic Italian Pan Pizza
My first encounter with Pizza in Teglia, or Italian Pan Pizza, occurred in 2006. I competed in the Pizza in Teglia, or Pan Pizza Category, at the World Pizza Competitions in Salsomaggiore, Italy. As my teglia pizza came out of the oven,
I looked at the contestant next to me and my eyes grew wide. His pizza was as large as a house window, and he was making his pizza backwards! He re-cooked his pizza multiple times, adding cheeses and protein after each bake and then put multiple greens, olives, and tomatoes on it. I’ll always be proud of scoring well, but the beauty of that other guy’s pizza in teglia intrigued me and haunted my memory until I visited Rome in 2015.
I was invited to work at Gabriel Boncis Pizzarium in the spring. The amazing number of colorful pizza in teglia ran along a small counter where the long line of customers stood patiently to buy pizza by the slice, called ‘Pizza Taglio.’ I worked with the Manager Frederico and the crew in the tiny kitchen gently pressing the highly hydrated dough into some large square oiled pans I had seen in 2006. I then placed it into their old electric oven with just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
After I pulled it from the oven, Frederico cut it down the middle then spread a chickpea puree followed by thinly sliced sturgeon as a lemony carpaccio. We crumbled hard boiled eggs and dressed crispy puntarella as a finish. I smiled, knowing I was in pizza in teglia heaven. This type of pizza was irresistible, and I just knew it was going to be very popular someday. I am now here to say this is the year of Pizza in Teglia!
Types of Pizza in Teglia
Teglia means baking tray in Italian. This pan pizza method or ‘Pizza al Testo’ has evolved over the years using a multitude of different types of pans, hydrations, flours and cooking methods. Each pizza microclimate has its own way of representing the tastes, products and baking methods of the different Italian regions and even these may vary from town to town.
- Pizza di Sfigole from the Abruzzo region is a pan pizza without all the fuss. It’s just flour, lard and pig bits called sfigole. Pretty much a flavorful and flaky pie-crusted pork bread. Yum.
- Pizza al Tegamino, means “Baked pan pizza,” and evolved in Turin, Italy and is still made in the Piedmont and into Emilia Romagna region. It is thought that this (usually) round pan pizza originated from the Northern Italian focaccia recipes that were cooked in dying wood-fired ovens that were still hot with just coals.
- Pizza al Trancio from Milan also called ‘Trancio Milanese’ and is attributed to a specific pizzeria in Milan, Pizzeria Spontini. Pizza al Trancio is like that of the Tuscan Schiacciata. It has only 60-percent hydration and is fermented overnight. Traditional toppings in Milan are tomato sauce, mozzarella, oregano and anchovies.
- Pizza al Padellino means ‘Pan Pizza’ is from Turin, the first capital of Italy and has a soft, thick and round crust with plenty of char from the wood fired ovens. It was a favorite of Italy’s first king: Vittorio Emanuele II.
- Sfincione is a specific Sicilian pan pizza baked in a rectangular tray with tomato sauce, oregano, anchovies, onion, hard sheep’s milk cheese and breadcrumbs. It is served more in bakeries than pizzerias in the region. This pizza mirrors the flavor profiles in the French ‘Pissaldiere’ from Nice.
- Scacciata Siciliana is a stuffed pan pizza with items like broccoli, olives, provolone or cacciocavalo, sun-dried tomatoes and sausage. The lower hydration dough is made with semolina and extra virgin olive oil.
All roads lead to Rome
The true hub of pizza in teglia is indeed the Lazio region and especially Rome. These bakers have taken this pan pizza to the next level with one intensive purpose- to create a thin pizza that has cracker-crispness on the outside but a light, airy and moist cell structure on the inside. As Massimilliano Saieva told me, “This is an obsession. The endless search for perfection, an endless love.” That about sums up the level of intensity these Roman pizza masters have.
The Roman style of pizza is cut with sharp scissors and sold by weight. But in many other countries, this cannot be done for convenience, environmental or governmental reasons.
Long Attention Pan
Roman pizza parameters are different for every pizza maker. From what I have researched, these are a few of the principles and secrets. But as usual, all are arguable.
- Flours used are either “0” flour or “00” flour or a combination of both. Some Roman bakers are adding ancient whole grains to the mix also.
- 0.6 percent brewer’s yeast is used crumbled in water and added to the flour mix.
- Water at 80-percent hydration is added to the slowly mixing batch. Cold water is used by the many pizza makers that hold their dough for up to 72 hours. This will ensure a delayed fermentation and will have a sweet, mild nuttiness after long refrigeration.
- A long mix with a hydration of 80 percent. Some bakers use the autolyze method for a stronger gluten net. This method is letting the already mixed water and flour rest in the mixer bowl for up to 45 minutes before adding the salt and oil. Some Roman pizza makers will use a Biga.
- 2.0 percent salt is added after the mix and then 2 percent of the extra virgin olive oil is added. This ensures strong gluten strands and a tender crispness desired by Roman Pizza in Teglia bakers.
- The folding and storage vary greatly from all the Roman pizza chefs I’ve researched. Some will do a bulk fold and rest every 20 minutes then use a 24-hour bulk ferment under refrigeration. Others will bulk ferment it in a refrigerator for only 12 hours then form the dough.
- Dough balls are usually weighed and formed to accommodate the oiled pans used.
- Oven temperatures vary from 560-600 F.
- Some pizzas are not topped. Some pizza in teglia are drizzled with oil then par-baked to be topped with cheeses and proteins and baked to a final and crisp crust. Some pizzas are coated with tomato sauce, baked, then topped with soft cheese.
- Final toppings are a thing of beauty — everything under the sun is used. Using the imagination and food pairing knowledge is key to making a pizza in teglia look like a painting in a museum. Once the bread base is done, the digestibility and crunch of this famous pizza carry it to the finish line in first place!
John Gutekanst owns Avalanche Pizza in Athens, Ohio.