Pizza Hut Original Pan Pizza {Copycat Recipe}

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For last week’s Fiesta Friday #24, I wrote a post with faux letter to the CEO of Pizza Hut, Scott Bergren to talk to him about breadsticks. For this week’s Fiesta Friday #25, hosted by  Hilda @Along The Grapevine and Julianna @Foodie On Board, I thought I’d write him another one to talk about…well, what else? Pizza. So, here goes:

Dear Scott,

I really enjoyed our one-sided chat about the awesomeness of Pizza Hut’s breadsticks last week. This week, I thought I’d shift gears and drop you a line (or several) about your favorite subject in the world: pizza. Because after all, pizza makes your world go round, right?

You know when it comes to pizza styles, I’m a pretty flexible girl. At the major chains there’s typically 3 different types: Hand-tossed, Thin n Crispy, and Pan/Deep Dish.

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Last week I admitted that when it came to breadsticks, Domino’s was able to give you guys a run for your money. Now when it comes to pizza, I really can’t say for sure, as I haven’t had Domino’s pizza since they changed (and supposedly) ‘improved’ their recipe. Therefore, I’ll give my opinion based on what I remember their pizza to be like the last time I had some.

I won’t lie, Scott. It’s good. Really, really good. Their dough, as I remember it, is crisp and browned on the outside, yet soft and pillowy on the inside. This is particularly exceptional in the case of Pan Pizza, as I find that sometimes Pan Pizza dough runs the risk of being too heavy and dense. Dominos has succeeded in making their dough thick and sturdy, but light enough so that you’re not chewing a mountain of dough. Dominos also has the option of asking for more or less cheese/sauce when ordering their pizza, which I really like, as not all pizza preferences are created equal. I said it before and I’ll say it again: they’re definitely the ones to be watching out for in this pizza rat race. But then again, my older sister tells me that ever since they ‘improved’ their recipe, the pizza hasn’t been as good as it used to be, so maybe you’ve got nothing to worry about.

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Now, as much ribbing and flack that Little Caesar’s gets for it’s $5 Hot-N-Ready pizza, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I actually really like their square deep-dish, pan pizza. Because those are typically made to order, they  haven’t been sitting around in a hotbox all day, and they taste far fresher than the Hot-N-Readys. Additionally, the square shape makes it so that nearly every piece has that brown, crispy edge on its crust that I think tastes just as good (if not better) than the rest of the pizza. The ratio of sauce to crust is also pretty good as well. Maybe their breadsticks are bit of a miss, but their deep dish pizza is a hit in my book.

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Don’t worry, Scott. Despite both Domino’s and Little Caesar’s pretty good understanding of proper Pan/Deep Dish style pizza, I have to say that Pizza Hut still manages to do it better. The crust is crisp and browned on the outside, without being as greasy as Dominos or Little Caesar’s. I’m a huge fan of your slightly sweeter pizza sauce, as well as the ratio of cheese that you apply. It’s a pizza where the crust is also just as good as the pizza itself, which is rare. That Pan Pizza is a real keeper, which is why I thought that I may give a whack at trying to recreate a version of it myself at home.

Like the breadsticks, this was a lot of fun to make. I decided to follow the recipe and used three of my 9-inch cake pans for my first time because I wanted it to be as aesthetically close to the original as possible. However, in the future I think I may try pressing all of the dough into one large sheet pan and see how that turns out, just to experiment with the recipe. Mine didn’t taste exactly as perfect as Pizza Hut’s, but my family did enjoy it very much. I was especially impressed with the crust- it was perfectly golden brown with a crunchy exterior and a soft inside. I’ve done some research and apparently, the dry milk, as well as the copious amount of oil coating the inside of the cake pans had a lot to do with that. Go figure.

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Before I end this letter, I still have to take you to task on one thing, Scott. It’s been a week one whole week since I last wrote you and expressed my one point of contention and disatisfaction with you guys over the Hut.

The Big New Yorker Pizza. It’s still not back on your menu. I don’t understand the meaning of this. I mean, I thought I made it pretty clear how important a matter this was (and still is) to me. I thought you understood. I thought you cared.

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See that crust? That’s a thing of beauty, there.

As delicious as your Pan Pizza is, New York Style Pizza still rules the roost, Scott. It’s just better. Honest. I said it before, and I said it again: the Big New Yorker was the best thing you had on your menu, and I can guarantee that it’s very sorely missed by not just me, but millions of other Pizza Hut Customers. Think of the all those people, Scott. Think of the children. Haven’t they suffered enough?

I really don’t want to have to start a campaign or petition for this or anything. I’m hoping you’ll be reasonable enough so that it doesn’t have to come to that. Just bring back the Big New Yorker Pizza to Pizza Hut- that’s all I ask. It’s such a small thing that will bring so much happiness – and that’s what it all boils down to at the end of the day, isn’t it Scott?

Jess

*Just to clarify, this IS just a copycat recipe. I don’t own the actual Pizza Hut logo or breadsticks recipe. So don’t sue me 😉

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Pizza Hut Original Pan Pizza

Recipe Courtesy of Food.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

For Sauce:

  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 whole ay leaf
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar

For Dough:

  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (105°)
  • 1/4 cup non-fat powdered milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp granulates sugar
  • 1 (1/4 oz) pkg dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (for dough)
  • 9 oz vegetable oil (3 oz per pan)
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray

Directions

For Sauce (Makes enough for 2 pizzas):

1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sauce starts to boil.

2. Lower heat and simmer covered for 30-45 minutes until sauce reaches desired thickness.

For Dough

1. Put yeast, sugar salt & dry milk in a large bowl.

2. Add water & stir to mix well. Let rest for 2 minutes. Add oil & stir again. Add flour & stir until dough forms & flour is absorbed.

3. Turn onto a flat floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed until elastic & no longer sticky.

4. Divide dough into 3 balls. Put 3 oz of oil in 3 9-inch cake pans, making sure it’s spread evenly.

5. Roll out each dough ball into  9 inch circles, place in cake pans.. Spray the outer edge of dough with Pam & cover with plates. Place in warm area and let rise for 1-1/2 hours.

6. Preheat oven to 475°. For each pizza, spoon 1/3 cup pizza sauce on dough & spread to within 1-inch of edge. Sprinkle with desired amount of mozzarella cheese, and add desired toppings.

7. Bake until cheese is bubbling & outer crust is brown, 12-15 minutes.

 

 

Texas Roadhouse Rolls

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There are a handful of restaurants and fast food joints that I like going to for one specific thing, and one specific thing only. Maybe they have other things on the menu that taste good. Maybe there are other things on the menu that aren’t so good. But either way, if I’m going to this place, I’m going to get that one specific thing, or the entire point of the trip is negated.

If it’s Cracker Barrel, I’m going for the pancakes.

A trip to Qdoba means I’m getting a chicken burrito with brown rice, corn, peppers and spicy salsa.

Coldstone Creamery? Cake batter ice cream with graham cracker bits and caramel.

Regardless of what city I’m in, if I’m eating at any Middle Eastern restaurant/deli, I don’t even need to look at a menu. I already know that I’m getting a chicken schwarma wrap with extra hummus.

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And then there’s The Texas Roadhouse.

You guys know where I’m going with this. Anybody (ANY-friggin-body) who has ever been to The Texas Roadhouse knows exactly where I’m going  with this. Don’t get me wrong, The Texas Roadhouse has other things on their menu that taste just fine. I have no complaints for the food in general. But for me, and I suspect for quite a few of you out there, there is but one thing that sets this place apart from all others.

No. It’s not the peanut shells that are littered across the floor.

Nope. I’m not talking about the caricature pictures of Dolly Parton and Willy Nelson on the wall.

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I’m talking about bread, guys.

THE bread.

The best bread to ever pass your lips. I’m not kidding. The first time that you try the Texas Roadhouse bread, you’re going to need a minute to yourself just to process what is happening. You’re not going to think it’s possible that something as simple as bread can taste so good. You’re going to wonder what the heck has been that crap you’ve been eating for years at other restaurants that they try to pass off as ‘bread’ (Unless you’re at Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse- they don’t count here). You’re probably even going to think that the chefs in the kitchen are slipping some crack in the dough.

Well, they don’t put crack in the dough (at least, I THINK they don’t), but the developers at the Texas Roadhouse were definitely onto something the day they perfected this recipe. It’s just that good. When me and my family go to eat there, we always request extra bread, whether we end up with leftovers from our entrees or not. If you go to the Texas Roadhouse and don’t take home a doggy bag of the rolls, then you’re either on a diet (in which case I’m not sure why you’d be going to the TRH anyway), or you have no taste buds (which must be pretty terrible).

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I’ve had this recipe pinned to my food board on Pinterest for a long time now, but never got around to making it. This weekend, I decided to just stop the procrastination and get baking. The recipe for these rolls has been posted on lots of other food blogs, but I decided to go with the one that I saw first, at Eat Cake For Dinner. I didn’t do too much to change it. My changes were to shorten the rising time slightly (as my rolls doubled in size once molded quicker than hers). Whenever I make rolls, I always give them an egg and honey wash on the tops before baking, as I love the crust it gives them, along with an added sweetness.

I suppose the main question on everyone’s mind is: do they taste like the rolls from Texas Roadhouse? Well…yes and no. From my own research on the subject, I’ve read that the authentic ones are made with a flour that has a kind of evaporated/dry form of honey sifted into it, and that they also do not contain eggs or milk so as to widen the restaurant’s audience to include allergy sensitive customers.  I can’t imagine how this is possible, but since my rolls do contain eggs and milk, and don’t have any mad scientist flour, it’s obvious that they aren’t going to be the exact same as the original. BUT….they ARE friggin delicious. And if you have a craving for TRH rolls and don’t have one in your town (or you just can’t stand listening to country music), then these will definitely do in a pinch. I’d make them again for sure.

FEED(ME)BACK: Name one food from any restaurant that you only go there to get, every time.

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Texas Roadhouse Rolls

Recipe adapted from Eat Cake for Dinner

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Yield: 24 rolls (Give or take, depending on how you shape them)

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cup milk, scalded & cooled to lukewarm
  • 3 tbl melted butter, melted, slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7-8 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3 whole eggs, divided
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 100° or lowest possible setting.

2. Scoop some butter or shortening onto a paper towel and grease 2 9 x 9 baking pans.

3. Dissolve yeast in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar; let stand until frothy.

4. Combine yeast mixture, milk, 1/2 cup sugar and enough flour* to make a medium batter (about consistency of pancake batter). Beat thoroughly.

5. Add melted butter, 2 eggs and salt. Beat well.

6. Add enough flour to form a soft dough, about a cup at a time, being sure to scrape the sides of the bowl in the beginning. When the dough pulls away from the bowl and is smooth to the touch, it is ready.

7. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a piece of plastic wrap. Take a paper towel, and grease the mixing bowl with shortening or butter until it is well covered. Place the dough into the bowl, then turn it upside down once to make sure both sides are greased. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and place it in the oven for about an hour, or until the dough is doubled in size.

8. Punch the down, and turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper or cutting board you’ve sprinkled with flour.

9. Divide the dough into portions for shaping. Place rolls into greased baking pans and cover with plastic wrap. Place pans back in oven and let rest for an additional 30 minutes.

10. Remove plastic wrap from pans. Increase heat to 350°.

11. While oven is heating, whisk egg with honey in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, spread mixture over tops of rolls.

12. Bake rolls for 10-15 minutes in oven, or until golden brown. Baste them with butter as soon as they are removed from oven.

*If you have a sifter, I do recommend sifting your flour into the bowl before adding the other dry ingredients. The finer the flour is sifted, the softer and fluffier the dough will be in texture. It’s worth it. Trust me.