Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pizza Hut Thin & Crispy clone

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Even though this is the first style of pizza I'm sharing on this blog, I've only made about five of these pizzas so far. Needless to say, that's not much experience. Regardless, I've already created a near-clone. As I continue trying to make a better clone, I'll add formulaic and procedural updates at the bottom of this page.

This pizza wasn't quite a perfect clone; I'd say I got it about 90% right. However, I'm confident that if I had delivered it to someone in a Pizza Hut box, they wouldn't have known the difference. If you follow my instructions carefully, you will be able to make a Pizza Hut thin & crispy clone as well. Find out how to do it yourself.

A slice of my Pizza Hut Thin clone.

Profile of Pizza Hut Thin clone.

Overhead view of Pizza Hut thin clone.

Specialized equipment you'll need for this pizza (all of which will be pictured later in this post):
  • A cutter pan, seasoned on the bottom. I'm using a 10" pan, which I bought at a restaurant equipment supply store. Here's how to season your cutter pan.
  • Dough docker. You can get a cheap one of these for about $10, or a good one for about $20, at any restaurant equipment supply store, or possibly at a cook store. (I use a cheap one.) I buy all my equipment at restaurant equipment supply stores, and you should, too, because cook stores sell crap.
  • Pastry roller. I don't think I've ever seen one of these at a restaurant supply store, so you might have to get this from a cook store.

Here's the formula I used for today's dough, which I based on 1 pound of King Arthur all purpose flour:

100% KAAP flour
37.5% Water
1.25% ADY
1.61% Salt
3.13% Canola oil
0.38% Sugar

Since this blog is new, and because there might be people reading this who have no idea what all that stuff means, here's the ingredient measurements I used. (Flour and water are measured by weight, not volume.)

16 oz King Arthur all purpose flour
6 oz Water
2 tsp Active dry yeast
1.5 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Canola oil
1/2 tsp Sugar

The picture on the right shows how the dough should look immediately after mixing for 10 minutes in a KitchenAid Professional 5 mixer with a spiral dough hook.

As you should be able to tell by looking at the picture, this is a very stiff dough. It's probably the stiffest dough I've ever made, and it's probably the stiffest dough I ever will make. Normally I don't mix for anywhere near 10 minutes, but with this batch the dough hook had a difficult time reaching this dough because the dough was in so many small pieces, instead of one piece. With any dough as stiff as this one, be sure to stay near your mixer during the mixing period because this dough could damage your mixer if you're not careful.

If you don't want to risk ruining your mixer (or if you don't have one), this kind of dough can also be mixed in a food processor. In fact, I think the food processor works better than a mixer for this kind of dough, even though Pizza Hut does not mix their dough in food processors. I will write another post about making this kind of dough in a food processor. (Hopefully soon.)

Procedures for mixing the batch size I made:
  1. Measure 2 tsp of ACTIVE DRY YEAST and place in mixer bowl. (If you use a different kind of yeast, 2 tsp will not be the right measurement. For example, if you use instant yeast, you will want to use 1/2 or 1/3 as much as the amount of active dry yeast used in any dough formula.)
  2. Measure 6 oz of warm water (110 degrees) and pour about half of it into the bowl of yeast.
  3. Stir the yeast water if you feel so inclined.
  4. Add 1/2 tsp of sugar to the yeast water.
  5. Measure 16 oz of King Arthur all purpose flour and set it aside.
  6. Measure 1.5 tsp of salt and add to the flour. Stir the flour a little to incorporate the salt evenly within the flour.
  7. When the yeast is clearly dissolved in the water, after about 10 minutes, add the rest of the water to the yeast water. (The yeast water should be foamy before you add the rest of the water, but it may be ready even if the yeast water does not become foamy, depending on various factors.)
  8. Add 1 Tbsp of oil to the water.
  9. Add the flour to the wet ingredients.
  10. Incorporate all the ingredients by hand for 10 or 20 seconds, using the dough hook or a spoon.
  11. Using your mixer, with the dough hook attached, mix the dough for 5 minutes, or until it looks like a shaggy mess. Even though the dough will not seem very well mixed, this will be long enough because the dough will come together better as it ferments.
  12. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about half an hour in a warm environment.
  13. After half an hour, cut off a piece of dough about twice as heavy as you will need for your pizza. (For example, I'll be making a 10" pizza, which will require about 6.5 oz of dough, so I used a 13 oz piece of dough.)
  14. Dough shortly after mixing.
  15. Put the dough back in your mixer bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  16. Put the rest of the dough in a ziploc bag and into the refrigerator. You can use this dough the next day or up to several days later.
  17. Let the dough ferment for at least five hours at room temperature. (You might even be able to let this dough ferment at room temperature for 24 hours or longer. I can't say for sure right now, though, because I haven't tried it yet.) 
    Dough five hours after mixing. By comparing this pic to the previous pic,
    you should be able to see that the dough will rise, but it won't rise a lot.
When you're ready to make a pizza, set your oven to bake at 500. I keep a baking stone in the oven, which I pre-heat well in advance of baking the pizza, but that may not be necessary for this kind of pizza, since the pizza will bake entirely in a pan, rather than directly on the stone.

Now comes the hard part: rolling the dough.

  1. Remove the dough from mixer bowl and place on your work surface (counter).
  2. Flatten the dough as much as you can using your hands.
  3. Without adding flour, roll the dough with a rolling pin.
  4. Roll the dough until it is larger than your cutter pan. Basically you want to roll it almost as thin as you can. (This will take a lot of work, and you'll probably never do it again.)
  5. Top of the cutter pan, just before trimming the dough.
    The bottom (seasoned side) of a 10" cutter pan.
  6. When the dough is as thin as you think it should be, spray your pan lightly with nonstick spray and drape the dough over the pan so it covers the entire pan.
  7. Use your fingers to press the dough into the "corners" of the cutter pan so the dough hugs the surface of the pan.
  8. Dock the dough. (Alternatively, you could dock the dough before Step 5.)
  9. Use the pastry roller to cut the excess dough on the lip of the pan. (Add the scrap dough to the bag with the rest of the dough from earlier, then put it back in the refrigerator.)
  10. The dough after being docked and trimmed. Also, a pastry roller (left) and
    dough docker (right).
    This is a little misleading because the pan weighs about 10 oz.
    Consequently, the scale is showing that the dough skin
    weighs a little over 7.5 oz, not 17.5 oz.
  11. If you've made a 10" pizza, top the dough skin with 3 oz of sauce and 4 oz of cheese. Add toppings however you want.
  12. 10" dough skin with 3 oz of sauce.
    5 oz of cheese. (That may be a little too much.)
  13. Bake at 500 for at least 10 minutes. If you roll the dough extremely thin, the pizza will be done after 10 minutes, but thicker dough will take longer. Unless you make an excessively thick dough skin, this pizza should be finished by 12 or 13 minutes. (All ovens are a little different, so your results may be slightly different.)
  14. This pic shows that I baked on the stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

Remove the pan from the oven, and transfer the pizza from the pan to a cutting surface. If you've made a 10" pizza, cut it into 6 pieces. (Cut a 12" pizza into 8 pieces. Cut a 14" pizza into 12 pieces.)


The sauce I'm currently using for this kind of pizza consists of:
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Don't cook the sauce. Cooking pizza sauce is the easiest way to ruin it. Just mix the ingredients and keep refrigerated.

One slice turned over to show you the extent of browning.
I like bite-mark pics because I think they make the best profile pics.
Get used to seeing this kind of pic.
This pic shows the rigidity of the slice.

Update (9/22/12): I made a much different dough for this style last night, using a lot of oil and a very low hydration, mainly as an experiment. After about 12 hours of room temperature bulk fermentation, it's clear that the hydration for this formula is too low to work. Here's the formula:

100% KAAP
29% Water
2% ADY
2% Salt
10% Oil
0.6% Sugar

Even though this dough feels nothing like real Pizza Hut dough, and even though I want to just toss it, I'm still gonna try to make a pizza out of it. However, I'm also going to make another batch of dough, with 32% hydration, to make at about the same time. (Note: I made this dough at about 9:00, and I intend to use it mid/late-afternoon.)

Update (9/22/12, 2:00 pm): Well, forget that idea. While my dough was in the oven on bread proof mode, about an hour ago, somehow the oven got turned on and melted the bowls of dough. It probably happened because someone bumped the horribly-designed, dangerous KitchenAid oven control panel, accidentally and unknowingly turning on the oven. I subsequently made another batch of dough.

Update (9/25/12): Below is the formula I used for the dough I made last night, which I bulk fermented overnight and used today.

100% KAAP
38% Water
2% ADY
1.5% Salt
3% Oil
1% Sugar

This one was really close; definitely better than the dough from the beginning of this post, which was pretty good itself.

My previous batch of dough used 5% oil, and that was obviously too much, as the crust was biscuity. After decreasing the oil from 5% to 3%, it became clear that the unwanted biscuity texture had resulted from the higher oil content. But there was still a hint of biscuity texture with today's pizza, which tells me there should not be any more than 3% oil in this dough, and in fact that 3% is probably too much oil. So my next batch will contain 2% oil.

I increased the sugar by a considerable amount from the previous batch, but I think it still needs to be a little higher because the crust isn't browning quite as much as it should.

Also, 2% ADY is not enough. I let this dough bulk ferment at room temperature for 18 hours, and it still seemed a little underfermented. Keep in mind that Pizza Hut starts using their dough only a few hours after they mix it (if they still make the dough on site). That means I probably need to increase the yeast at least another percent. I'll go with 2.5% ADY with the next batch (which I won't make until tomorrow).

The stiffness of this dough felt just about right. Because I'll be dropping the oil percentage by 1% with the next batch, I'll also increase the hydration by 1%.

The formula for the next batch will be:

100% KAAP
40% Water
3% ADY
1.5% Salt
2% Oil
1.5% Sugar

Also, I've been mixing the dough longer than I mixed the dough at the beginning of this post, and I'd say that's the right thing to do.

Update (9/27/12): That didn't work. I made a pizza today after a 19-hour room-temperature bulk ferment. Even though the dough was very stiff when I mixed it, the crust ended up soft and sorta bready. I attribute this to the very high yeast percentage. Also, the crust had a blonde hue that just doesn't look like PH to me. I think this is from the oil, and I think other unwanted characteristics are from oil, too. So I'm not going to put any oil in the next batch. And I'm still not seeing the kind of browning I want, so I will increase the sugar a little in the next batch.

Next batch of dough will be:

100% KAAP
40% Water
2% ADY
2% Salt
2% Sugar

Update (9/28/12): I learned something today.

The reason yesterday's pizza was soft, pale, and icky is because it was overfermented after a 19-hour room-temperature bulk ferment. Today's pizza was not like that, even though it was made from the same dough. The difference is that the dough I used today had been refrigerated until this morning, at which point it began an 8-hour room-temperature bulk ferment. With the same thickness and bake time, today's pizza ended up very crispy (almost crunchy) with plenty of browning.

As a result of today's lesson, I'm gonna keep the yeast at 3% for the next batch (but the room-temperature bulk ferment will be much shorter), and I'll keep the sugar at 1.5%. There will be no oil in the dough, and I'll probably change the hydration to 41%, rather than 40%.
2% Sugar

Update (9/30/12): Made from dough that I mixed yesterday, today's pizza was almost a perfect clone of Pizza Hut thin. Here's the dough formula:

Nearly Perfect Pizza Hut Thin Formula
100% KAAP flour
41% Water
3% ADY
2% Salt
1.5% Sugar

Mixed for about 12 minutes (until there was no loose flour in the mixer bowl), then into the fridge for about 36 hours. Removed from the fridge 6-8 hours before I intended to make the pizza. Rolled the dough, topped, and baked for 11 minutes at 500 on a preheated stone. (11 minutes was a little too long of a bake time. Next time I'll only bake for 10 minutes.) If you don't want to refrigerate this dough, I think this dough would work fine after a 4-hour room-temperature bulk ferment.

I don't plan on making this style of pizza for a while. But whenever I do it again, I will use this formula, rather than the formula at the beginning of this post. Also, I will make the dough in the morning and allow it to bulk ferment at room temperature for around 4 hours. Whenever I get around to doing this again, I will take a whole bunch of pictures, then write a new post, documenting every step.

Note: Instant yeast is probably more appropriate for this dough than active dry yeast. If I had instant yeast, I would try 1% to 1.5%.

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  1. I agree. If you say it’s 90% the same, I doubt people would notice it when they try it out, unless they’ve had Pizza Hut as their staple diet. Anyways, great post! It’s quite detailed and easy to follow. Gonna try this on our next pizza night. Cheers!

  2. I worked at PH long ago as the dough maker in the morning. The one thing I remember as the difference between the pan pizza dough and the thin 'n crispy dough was that there was significantly more oil in the thin dough. Also, the thin dough went into a bag as a somewhat dry, non-cohesive mass. It was actually useable within a very short time whereas the pan dough had to be proofed for an hour or so in a warmer. I'm not criticizing your effort at all...just wanted to point out the oil.

    1. Although I think my latest formula/recipe update may not list oil, I've felt for a long time that I may be wrong about that. Honestly, I haven't put much effort into cloning PH thin, and this may be the least helpful post on the blog. When I worked at PH (in the early 90s), all dough was made with a dough mix and water (different dough mix for each pizza style). The dough mix probably had oil in it, but there was no way for someone like me (a driver) to know for sure (although the packaging probably listed all ingredients).

      Thanks for your input.

  3. Hello, could you please translate the below into the actual measurements that need to be used in the recipe (tsp, oz, etc...)? I would love to give it a try but I wasn't sure how to go about it when listed as is. Thank you in advance!
    100% KAAP flour
    41% Water
    3% ADY
    2% Salt
    1.5% Sugar

    1. use the pizza making dough calculator:

    2. [table][td]Flour (100%):
      Water (41%):
      IDY (3%):
      Salt (2%):
      Sugar (1.5%):
      Total (147.5%):
      [/td][td]452.69 g | 15.97 oz | 1 lbs
      185.6 g | 6.55 oz | 0.41 lbs
      13.58 g | 0.48 oz | 0.03 lbs | 4.51 tsp | 1.5 tbsp
      9.05 g | 0.32 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.62 tsp | 0.54 tbsp
      6.79 g | 0.24 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.7 tsp | 0.57 tbsp
      667.71 g | 23.55 oz | 1.47 lbs | TF = 0.153

  4. I worked at Pizza Hut in the mid 70's. No sugar in the thin dough. At least a 12 hour period from making to using. It was rolled to about 1/8". On really busy days we would make up several pans ahead and the dough would rise again in the pan for a very different "thin" crust. All the ingredients were weighed for consistency -- 25 lbs flour, etc.

  5. I just added 35% cake flour, 1/4 cup powdered milk, and 1 t Crisco oil to 2 T water to your first recipe. I used 2 t of quick rising yeast though probably should have used half that for the small size of this recipe. I usually use 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour. We'll see.