Tomato Pie

Thursday, April 5, 2012
Homemade Tomato Pie

Homemade Tomato Pie

When it comes to challenges in the kitchen, I tend to get a bit fixated. If a recipe fails (sad face) I go straight into problem-solving mode until I have exhausted.every.single.possibility. I guess it’s the neurotic perfectionist in me.

If you’ve been reading LMS for awhile, you know all about my love for Tomato Pie. The Tomato Pie I’m talking about is not like pie pie. There’s no pastry crust, no mayonnaise, no raw tomatoes decoratively placed on top. No, Tomato Pie is more like a Sicilian-style pizza but without the cheese on top. It’s a simple pleasure of thick, soft crust, and sweet, tangy tomato sauce.

Roasted tomatoes = more flavor

Roasted tomatoes = more flavor

I’ve discovered how difficult it is to find it outside of the Philly area (and Utica, NY, so I hear) and it appeared I was not alone in my quest for a decent recipe. Years ago, I tried my hand at making homemade Tomato Pie and posted about it. Blogger friends, you know how you sometimes go back and read your earlier posts and cringe? Well, the cringe for me on this one was that I knew I could do better. The sauce was spot-on and needed little tweaking, but the crust. Sigh. The crust I was not satisfied with.

tomato pie, rising dough

Magical rising dough

I recently received an email from a reader who had moved from Philly. Her family missed Tomato Pie terribly and she wanted to make it for her daughter’s 4th birthday party. This was just the motivation I needed to master this Tomato Pie crust, once and for all.

The pie from Corropolese is my gold standard. Their crust is soft and spongy, airy and chewy. That’s the kind of crust I wanted. It was more like focaccia than a regular pizza dough, so that’s where I started. I cross referenced multiple recipes, experimented with bread flour, tested different proofing times, baking temps, and saucing techniques…I got a little nuts. Three flour runs and one messy, sticky, dough explosion later and I nailed it.

tomato pie dough

The dough should be pliable, like warm, elastic play-doh, but tastier.

The crust I ended up with is adapted from Tyler Florence’s Fabulous Focaccia. It results in a crust that is airy, soft, and chewy inside. I’m definitely keeping this recipe on hand for times when I just want to make straight up focaccia.

Tomato Pie recipe

Hello, Tomato Pie!

For my Tomato Pie modification, I ended up baking the crust about 2/3 of the way done before adding the sauce, to prevent the dough from collapsing and getting too dense. I found that if I added the sauce first, the dough didn’t rise as well, probably because of the weight of the sauce. Best of all, this recipe requires no overnight proofing, no multiple proofing, and I discovered an easy clean up trick with the use of some parchment paper.

Tomato pie recipe

Next time I won’t be lazy and will press the dough out all the way to the edge, promise.

The sauce I simply updated to vine-ripened tomatoes, and used more of them than in my first version.

It is with pleasure and pride that I present to you, Tomato Pie 2.0! Enjoy!!

Tomato Pie recipe

Tomato Pie 2.0

Tomato Pie
A simple pleasure of thick, soft crust, and sweet, tangy tomato sauce. I’ve updated (and vastly improved) my old recipe for Tomato Pie, and could not be happier. The crust is airy, soft, and chewy, as it should be. The sauce is just right. Enjoy, new and improved, Tomato Pie 2.0!

Prep Time: 2 hour, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Yield: (1) 13×18 inch pie; 12 servings

FOR THE CRUST

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups (1 lb 2 oz) all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for greasing pan
grated parmesan for garnish

Preparation:

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast with the warm water and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let stand 5 minutes until it looks foamy.
  2. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary. The dough should be like warm, elastic play-doh when it’s done. (Note: If you don’t have a stand mixer with dough hook, just knead it old-school by hand until you’ve reached the right consistency.)
  3. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn’t form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. One hour before baking, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. (Note: If you don’t have a baking stone, use an overturned rimmed baking sheet.)
  5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place the dough on the baking sheet, slide it around to coat the bottom and sides with oil, then flip dough over and slide it around again. Using fingertips, press dough out toward edges of pan, taking care not to tear it. (If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying to walk it out again.) Using a fork, poke entire surface of dough 25-30 times, popping any large bubbles. Cover pan with plastic and let dough rest for 30 minutes. The dough should become slightly bubbly.
  6. Place pan on baking stone (or overturned baking sheet) and lower oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes (or until top is lightly golden). Top with tomato sauce, rotate pan, and bake for another 10 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the tomato pie from the pan by lifting the overhanging parchment paper and return to the rack to finish cooling. (Note: If you didn’t use the paper, loosen the pie from the pan using a metal spatula while it’s still warm to prevent sticking.) Top with some grated parmesan and serve warm or at room temperature.

FOR THE SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 6)
29 oz tomato puree (3 cups)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the tomatoes in half, or quarters if they’re large. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in oven for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a large saucepan and let simmer until thickened. Add roasted tomatoes when they’re done and mix until there are no large chunks (you can puree the roasted tomatoes first if you want to get precise about it). Continue to simmer until most of the water has evaporated and the sauce is thick. Set aside for the tomato pie. (Note: This can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container until ready to use. You’ll have more sauce than you need for the pie.)

Print Recipe

This post was published on KQED’s Bay Area Bites on April 4, 2012.

56 Responses to “Tomato Pie”

  1. This reminds me of deep dish pizza!!! I’m not sure if it tastes similar but sure would be good w/ some cheese! Now I’m hungry for little star pizza :P 

  2. Bryn says:

    Made it, loved it! My husband said it was so close to what we had in Philly that he had no reason to miss the tomato pie there anymore. Now If only we could figure out DiNics hot pork sandwich! :). Thanks again Stephanie!

  3. hua says:

    Congratulations!  No more waking up with dough all over the kitchen :)

  4. Deborah says:

    I love tomato pie.. I too have been experimenting with recipes trying to develop the perfect pie ever since we moved away from the Philly area in 2004. Thank you for succeeding!!!!!

  5. jennifer says:

    yes!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Jamie says:

    I used an old school hand masher to mash up the roasted tomatoes. Gave it the perfect consistency of chunky and smooth!

  7. I know that feeling of having created something delicious and with so much potential but just not quite there, and then the joy of figuring out what it was that could push it over the edge. This looks and sounds fantastic! All that is left is to make it myself and taste it!

  8. You can get something very similar in Rhode Island. They’re referred to a “pizza strips”.

    • Deborah says:

      The main differences between RI pizza stirps and Philadelphia tomato pie are the amount of garlic and the crust.. pizza strips use regular or thin pizza dough and the sauce in RI just doesn’t have enough garlic in it. I speak from lots of taste testing experience..LOL. We moved from PA to RI in 2004 and I tried (a lot) of the pizza strips from grocery stores & pizza parlors in several different cities across the state and the closest I ever found was at The Big Cheese & Pub in Cranston. It was very good, just not quite Philly style. 

  9. Tomato Pie sounds delicious:) Thanks for recipe.

  10. Ellen says:

    Thank-you so much for this Tomato Pie recipe! I miss it so much. Now when my children and grandchildren visit, I can have this to serve to them as well as my husband and myself! Yummo!!

  11. Phong says:

    Stephanie- Thanks for the hard work! I moved to Orlando, FL 9 months ago and all I do is crave tomato pie (and franzone pizza from COnshy). I will make this sauce recipe this evening. I am not ready to try the dough recipe just yet. I will be using pre-made bread dough. I will post the results later.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Phong, I ADORE Franzone’s! That flaky crust and sweet sauce…mmm mmm. Enjoy the tomato pie recipe, and try the dough soon! It’s not too difficult, promise :)

  12. Russ says:

    My wife and I have tried this recipe tonight. It is excellent. Our dough cooked just a little too much and was slightly crispy as compared to the real deal, but it was still great. It is a tradition in our family and we have it at all holidays. My dad grew up in Norristown and we always have had the original. We will try to tend to the dough better the next time, but thanks for bringing the recipe to us, it is fantastic. 

  13. Kathy says:

    I made this last week and my husband could not get enough! We lived in Norristown, PA for 6 years and ordered tomato pies from Corropolese Bakery every week. I did have some trouble with the crust as I’m not very good with yeast recipes. I used my Kitchenaid Professional mixer – not such good results, but better than I anticipated. What are the chances I could do the dough in my Cuisinart Breadmaker?? Any thoughts on that??

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Kathy,

      I’m so glad you guys liked it! As for the dough, I’ve actually never used a breadmaker before, so I can’t speak to how the recipe would translate.
      It may take more elbow grease, but maybe trying to knead by hand — you’ll be able to control the texture. The dough should be like warm, elastic play-doh when it’s done.

      Good luck!

      • Kathy says:

        Well, I’m trying it again! I did use the breadmaker this time and froze the dough. I’ll take it out of the freezer today and make the crust tomorrow. BTW, we must have really, really small vine ripe tomatoes here in Wisconsin! I had to use 20 to get to 2.5 lbs for the sauce.  I weighed them religiously. Thanks again, Stephanie! I’ll let you know how the dough turns out from the breakmaker. Keeping my fingers crossed.

        • Stephanie says:

          Sending good tomato pie thoughts your way, Kathy!

          • Kathy says:

            The dough I made in the Cuisinart Convection Breadmaker was AWESOME! I set the machine to “dough cycle”; it turned off automatically after the first rise. I wrapped the dough in 3 layers of plastic wrap and put it in a zip-lock bag, then into the freezer. Two days later I defrosted it in the ‘fridge and it was so much easier to work with than the dough I made in the mixer. If you are yeast-challenged like I am, it may be the way to go.

          • Stephanie says:

            Yay! Awesome!! I’m so glad to hear it :) Thanks for sharing, Kathy.

  14. [...] is cooked through. Print RecipeIMPORTANT UPDATE: I’ve updated and improved this recipe! Make Tomato Pie 2.0!No related posts. Posted by Stephanie at 6:23 pm Tags: corropolese, norristown, pizza dough, [...]

  15. thebeannn says:

    Cannot wait to try this recipe. Moved from the Philly area in 2002 and have missed Tomato Pie from Sam’s Italian Market ever since. of course we get some EVERY TIME we visit family, but it’s just not quite enough.

  16. [...] week’s High Five is all about the glorious tomato. I live for tomato season. It means tomato pie and fresh tomato sauce and gorgeous sweet red beauties sneaked into every meal. Here’s some [...]

  17. Marcia in Texas says:

    I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but I have tried Coropolese’ tomato pie, and oh yes it’s the gold std.  I worked in the Norristown area for a year and half, then went back home to Texas.  I found I missed the tomato pie here so much I went to my local Pizza Hut and asked them to make one for me.  Loved their dough, but had to add splenda to the pie to sweeten it up.  It wasn’t the same but it satisfied my addiction.  This should be much more popular than kept in Philly.

  18. Angela says:

    I am so glad I found this! We just got back from visiting my husbands family in Pottstown and we ate so much Philly food! My husband misses his Philly food so I need to make this. We live in Alaska and they just don’t make food the same or sell it as cheap! Corropolese and Bravo Pizza in limerick were are favorite places to go. Ill give this a try for his bday next month. Thank you!!

  19. Angela says:

    I made this for him today and he loved it! He said that’s about as close as you can get to corropolese. Thanks again for the great recipe. :)

  20. Kathleen says:

    Stephanie:

    Thank you so much for such a great recipe. I have craved this pizza for years and years. This was always a must at every shower, tailgate party, stag, etc.. I’ve found variations with cheese, toppings etc., but never the real deal. THIS IS IT! I don’t have a Kitchenaid mixer but it was easy to make the dough by hand and it just turned out fantastic and looked good too! Thanks again for being diligent enough to figure it all out!

  21. Dana says:

    hi from Canada, I am obsessed with Tomato Pie. when you mentioned Corropolese, I could not believe it! we go to Philadelphia every year for Thanksgiving. on our way we stop at this fabulous bakery for Tomato pie.
    I am so excited to try your version!!! question: what Tomato purée do you recommend??

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Dana! I’m so excited for you :) I use Muir Glenn or Hunt’s. It doesn’t have to be particularly fancy tomato puree since it cooks down so much, the flavor intensifies pretty well.

  22. Rob says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    I live right around the corner from Corropolese. I have been looking for this recipe. I will try it out tomorrow the 2.0 recipe. I love the tomato pie, but don’t do tomatoes with salad. Does it matter San Romano vs. vine ripped? If not San Romano, just your plain old regular fresh tomatoes in the grocery store? I never bought or grew fresh tomatoes. Sorry for my ignorance here. Your help is greatly appreciated.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Rob,
      Lucky you! If I lived around the corner from Corropolese, I’d be in trouble.
      For roasting, any fresh tomato will do — I just prefer the flavor of ones on the vine.
      Happy tomato pie-making! -s-

  23. Anne says:

    I am from Utica, now living in Buffalo, NY, and the only time I can get tomato pie is when I go home or when my Dad brings it to me.  NOT ANYMORE!!!  My mother stumbled across your recipe, has made it before, and I made it with her on my last visit home.  Amazing!  Sharing our creation based on your recipe on my blog…circusberry.wordpress.com
    Thank you for posting this.  And my husband thanks you.
    Anne

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Anne,

      I’m so glad you liked the recipe! And, I loved your post! Well done, lady. PS your little munchkin is the cutest! If only we all looked that adorable stuffing our faces with tomato pie.

  24. [...] mother actually stumbled on a recipe for Tomato Pie from Lick My Spoon and has tried it several times, singing its praises.  So, on my latest trip to CNY, I coaxed her [...]

  25. teresa says:

    I can not wait to make this. Growing up with tomato pie in wilmington delaware – I often crave the tomato pie. For me serpes bakery made the best. On a hot summer day, a cold slice of tomato pie and a great italian water ice — could not get any better.

  26. Larry says:

    Promised a local SoCal bakery I’d make her a Tomato Pie so as to get her to start making them (I love cooking but nice to know that I don’t HAVE to cook one myself when in the mood).  Pretty much followed your recipe with exception of using a cup of WW flour in place of a cup of AP and I added 1-2 more T of sugar to the sauce b/c my memories of Philly tomato pie are of a pretty sweet sauce.  

    Bottom line: AWESOME.  Almost like home (Philly: 2800 miles away now).  

    While my crust was a little more dense and crispy than desired (WW flour and a little extra stretching to fit the pan after it rested for 30 minutes) the sauce was FLIPPING AMAZING.

    PS:  I gave a big slice to a local bakery owner who loved it and asked for the recipe.  Mission accomplished.  She plans on making tomato pies regularly now.  Here’s hoping that I did my part to bring the Philly tomato pie to gastronomically challenged Orange County.

    • Larry says:

      Oh yeah, I forgot to mention.  I used 3 huge, locally grown, heirloom tomatoes and reduced the sauce for almost 4 hours.  Well worth it as the sauce was truly bursting with intense tomato flavor.  As a result of reducing it so much, I ended up using the entire batch of sauce on my pie.  Ended up with 1/2″ of sauce over the whole pie.  The longer the sauce is reduced, the better it is and the better it stands up without running or falling off as you cut/eat.

    • Stephanie says:

      Larry,
      That is all sorts of awesome!! Way to spread the tomato pie love :)

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