Wish Upon A Dish: New England Bar Pie - Updated

July 14, 2016

New England Bar Pie - Updated

I have made my share of pizza pies in many different ways. A few on the grill, a few in the oven on a pizza pan, a few in a cast iron pan and a few on a standard sheet pan. It was always hit and miss. For a long time it was easier to recommend our local bar when The Nudge got a hankering, using the excuse "tough day, not cooking".

When I saw this recipe in the August/September 2014 Cook's Country magazine, I had to try it. Not only did it look good, it was totally ease-free and it just so happened I had a new set of  9" cake pans fresh out of the box. This I felt sure I could do.

I read the directions carefully, most recipes from the famed Cook's Illustrated family usually have a spot in the directions that is their key in the discovery of a no-fail dish. Their recipes really require no substitutions or changes in direction and one best never wing it. If it says "bake it for 15 minutes", I highly recommend you stand by the stove with timer and oven mitt in hand.
If you like to tweak, don't thunk it.

You might ask yourself what makes it a "bar pie" instead of a standard pie?
A bar pie is usually 'for one' where a regular pie is usually enough for 2-4 people. To make it easy, they have you bake two pies in highly lubed (with EVOO) 9" cake pans. Halving this recipe is not an option, trust me, you will want one all to yourself.

I find that this recipe has now become our Friday night pizza and The Nudge has stopped suggesting (with the excuse he's giving me a break from cooking) that we go out for our local bar pie.

He had found his Gotta-Da-Vida.

I promise to highlight the important parts that unless you have a death wish, you will not sway from. Trust me, I have screwed up a few by changing one of the cheeses to a store brand because I couldn't believe the price difference. Oh, baby. That was a BIG mistake. Another time I let the prepared but unbaked pizza sit on the counter too long and the dough rose to a height of a Sicilian pizza instead of a bar pie. Not what we are going for. Timing is of the essence. I would rather you bake it before everyone was home and reheat when ready.

Next time I am going to roll out the dough, put into the pans and then place them in the fridge to halt the rise and pull them out, sauce and cheese them and then right into the hot oven.

The best part of this pie is the crunchy edge that forms when the cheese melts down behind the crust and hits the olive oil slick in the pan.

Oh babee, this pie is really good. Don't even think of adding toppings until to try it one time. Cook's Country does offer a pepperoni version if you must, but remember, there is already a perfect oil slick on the surface from the cheddar cheese.

You would think it was impossible to get that edge in 15 minutes but at 500 degrees, it is perfect every time.
It is important to use both cheddar and mozzarella cheeses as long as you grate the one that is the square package of manufactured mozzarella, not any that dare be labeled "fresh".

I can guarantee you will consider buying a third or fourth cake pan just for the leftovers.
A double batch of dough will easily fit in the bowl of a standard processor. While waiting the hour for the dough to rise, one can preheat the oven, grate the cheese and make the sauce (if you don't already have a jar in your fridge).

Let's get cooking............

New England Bar Pie
makes 2 (9") bar pies

* 1 2/3 cups (8 1/3 ounces) AP flour
* 1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 2/3 cup water
* 1 1/2 teaspoon EVOO
* 3/4 teaspoon salt

* 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 1 teaspoon EVOO
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon oregano & sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon pepper & red pepper flakes

* 4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, hand shredded (1 cup)
* 4 ounces whole milk mozzarella, hand shredded (1 cup)
* 1 tablespoon EVOO

For the Dough:
1, Process flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds.
With processor running, slowly add water;process until just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough sand for 10 minutes. Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of work bowl, 30 to 60 seconds.

2. Transfer dough to lightly oiled counter and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until almost doubled in six, 2 to 2 1/2 hours (this would be the time to roll the crusts into the oiled pans and place in the fridge).

For the Sauce:
1. Process all ingredients in clean, dry food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds; set aside. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 day or frozen for up to 1 month.)

For the Topping:
1.Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine Cheddar and mozzarella in bowl. Using pastry brush, grease bottom and sides of 2 dark-colored 9-inch round cake pans with 1 1/2 teaspoon oil each.

2. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, divide in half and shape into balls.
Gently flatten 1 dough ball into 6-inch disk using your fingertips. Using rolling pin, roll disk into 10-inch round. Transfer dough to prepared pan and press into corners, forcing 1/4-inch lip of dough up sides of pan. Repeat with remaining dough ball.

3. Spread 1/3 cup sauce in thin layer over entire surface of 1 dough. Using pastry brush, brush sauce over lip of dough. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese mixture evenly over pizza, including lip. Repeat with remaining dough, 1/3 cup sauce and remaining cheese.

4. Bake until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown about 12 minutes, switching and rotating pans halfway through the baking. To remove pizzas from pans, run an offset spatula along the top edge of pizza crust. Once loosened, slide spatula underneath pizza and slide pizza onto a wire rack. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Slice and serve.

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