Copycat School Pizza
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School Pizza

What are the key factors to making your School Pizza a success?

  • Properly preparing the pan
    • Buttering the pan followed by dusting it with cornmeal accomplishes two goals.  First, it allows the crust to brown well on the bottom despite using a non-preheated pan.  Second, the corn meal helps you to accomplish this browning without your pizza sticking to the pan.  No one wants to be chiseling their pizza off the bottom of the pan!
  • Allowing the dough to rest after spreading on the pan.
    • This allows the gluten molecules in the crust to loosen and spread ensuring your final pizza has the correct texture.
  • Pre-baking the crust
    • This step is similar to the first in that it allows the crust to firm a bit on top before adding sauce, cheese and toppings.  This ensures you are not left with a “dough-y” center to your pizza.  You want to make sure you do not skip this step.
  • The CHEESE!
    • Yes, underlined & bolded.  The cheese is THE essential element in giving this pizza it’s classic school pizza flavor.  And really, it makes sense.  The classic school pizzas of yesteryear were never made with shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese.  They were made with what was known as “government cheese.”  Good luck sourcing that these days but this recipe comes very close to replicating the flavor of the traditional dish.
    • For School Pizza you want to use Deli White American cheese.  This means do not use the pack of Kraft singles you may have floating around the back of the fridge but rather visit the actual deli department of your grocery store.  
    • This cheese is almost universally going to be sold only sliced (rather than shredded) due to its high moisture content which can make shredding difficult.  To overcome this obstacle I recommend not even attempting to shred the cheese.  Line equal slices atop one another.  Cut in very thin strips (think shredded cheese thickness) and then quarter those strips to yield a pile of slices with shred-like quality.  Note: you may need to use your fingers to gently separate as they will have a tendency to want to stick together.  

What Ingredients do I need to make School Pizza?

Here are the ingredients you will need:  

  • Butter (use your choice of butter I used Smart Balance)
  • Cornmeal
  • Rapid Rise yeast
  • All purpose flour
  • Milk
  • Kosher salt
  • Oil (I used canola oil, use any neutral oil of your choice)
  • Pizza Sauce.  Here you can make homemade or use your favorite store brand.
  • Deli white American cheese
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Toppings.  Here is where it really becomes your choice.  Traditional School Pizza was usually offered as cheese (ie, plain), pepperoni or sausage.  Feel free to go off-tradition and add whatever toppings you prefer.  Some examples would be:
    • Onions
    • Bell Pepper Strips
    • Olives
    • Pineapple
    • Etc.

How to Make School Pizza?

  • Begin by heating the oven and preparing the pan.  Use your fingers or a butter wrapper to spread the butter over the full base of the pan and up the sides.  Dust lightly with the cornmeal and set the pan aside.
  • Combine the yeast and warm water until foamy.  Mix in the remaining crust ingredients and stir well to combine.  Note:  The dough will be very damp and may consists of some small lumps.
  • Use the back of a large spoon to gently spread the dough to all four corners of the pan and completely covering the base.  (Tilting can also help).
  • Allow the dough to rest for around 20 minutes to allow the gluten to loosen and avoid the crust yielding an undesirable texture.  
  • Bake the dough alone without any sauce or toppings.  
  • Remove the pre-baked crust from the oven and add the sauce, cheese and any toppings of your choice.  Return the pizza to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is beginning to brown around the edges.  

What to serve with School Pizza?

  • A heavy does of nostalgia!  No kidding, add some simple sides, recall the simpler times.  Want a few more “full meal” options, try these:
Copycat School Pizza

School Pizza

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon cornmeal
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 packet rapid yeast
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ⅔ cup milk
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon oil
  • 1, 13 oz jar pizza sauce
  • ½ pound shredded deli white american cheese
  • 1 cup finely shredded mozzarella
  • Optional: toppings such as pepperoni sausage, etc

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oven to 475 degrees.
  • Use your fingertips to spread the butter around the base and edges of a sheet pan. Sprinkle the cornmeal lightly around the base of the pan.
  • Add the yeast to a large bowl and gently mix with 2 Tablespoons of warm water. Allow to sit for a few minutes to become foamy.
  • Add the flour, milk, salt, sugar and oil to the bowl with the yeast. Stir well to combine. Mixture will be very wet and may have some small lumps.
  • Spread the batter around the prepared sheet pan. Use the back of a large spoon to spread to fully cover the sheet pan. Allow the doubt to rest for 20 minutes.
  • Bake the dough without any toppings for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and top with the sauce, spreading nearly all the way to the edges. Followed by the cheeses and any optional toppings.
  • Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Notes

To prepared the white American cheese. Lay the slices in a flat stack and thinly slice. Then slice cross wise to provide thin, shred-like slices.

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