Pizza is an interesting food. Not only is there a plethora of preparation methods but its history, where it comes from and how certain styles develop throughout the years are also intriguing topics. This is especially true when you consider the Italian immigrant wave of the early 1900s. Let’s dive into our bier hill pizza recipe estimate.
Brier Hill pizza is one such type of pie, developed by southern Italian immigrants in Youngstown, Ohio. We’ll discuss how this pizza came to be along with an adjusted version of a Brier Hill pizza recipe. This pie is often served cold and has simple ingredients involving a “Sunday Sauce” (a sweet and thick tomato sauce) along with peppers, Romano cheese and basic dough.
While you can still purchase a traditional pie from this nook in Ohio, you can always make it at home. But, the name of the game is patience.
History of Brier Hill Pizza
Brier Hill is a neighborhood in Youngstown, Ohio with a history that goes back to 1801. It was named so due to all the hillside-blanketing briers. In the early 1900s, many immigrants from Italy, Ireland and Poland filled this little town.
Three parishes served each community group, with St. Anthony’s belonging to the Italians flourishing in Brier Hill. The section around Brier Hill was the district’s Little Italy. In fact, most of the Italians that settled in the area at the time came from the southernmost portions of Italy: Colobraro, Provincia, Matera and Basilicata.
It was here that the style we now know as Brier Hill pizza had its genesis; in the backyard bread making brick ovens for the entire Italian community there at the time. They would use leftover bread dough and turn it into pizza, topping it with a sweet and thick tomato sauce along with bell peppers and Romano cheese.
Modern Brier Hill Pizza
While the hustle and bustle of the early 1900s is no longer thriving in that section of Youngstown, St. Anthony’s does still make this style of pizza. They serve it every Friday along with the Brier Hill Italian Festival in August, which has kept this pizza style alive for the last 27 years.
Ergo, Brier Hill pizza is a staple in the area and a must-try for any pizza lover. But, for those who can’t get near Youngstown any time soon, making the Brier Hill pizza recipe at home will suffice.
Brier Hill Pizza Recipe Adaptation
The Modarelli Baking Company released their version of this recipe on Facebook in August of 2013. Understand, however, there are slight variations of this Brier Hill pizza recipe depending on where you go in Youngstown. So, we created a wide adaptation.
It’s also important to note that the measurements are guesstimates since most Italian cooks don’t often measure their ingredients with precision. You can make your own adjustments to the recipe here. But, in order to be a true Brier Hill pizza, you must have the main components mentioned below.
This recipe will make two 12-inch or four six-inch pizzas. It’s advisable to make the sauce the day before and prepare to serve it cold.
Items You’ll Need
- Cutting Board
- Sharp Knife
- Measuring Cups ; Spoons
- Medium Saucepan with a Lid
- Wooden Spoon
- Airtight Container
- Kettle or Small Saucepan
- Medium-Sized Mixing Bowl
- Stand Mixer with Bowl and Bread Attachment
- Rubber Spatula
- Pizza Peel
- Pizza Pan or Baking Stone
For the Sauce
- 2 Cans Crushed Tomatoes (28 oz each)
- 1 Can Tomato Puree (28 oz)
- 2 tsp Basil (dried)
- ¼ tsp Oregano (dried)
- 1 tsp Parsley (dried)
- 2 Red Bell Peppers
- 2 Green Bell Peppers
- 5 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Pinch Sugar
- ½ Cup Olive Oil (divided per number of pies)
- 2-3 Packages Romano Cheese (5 oz each)
- 1 Cup Cubed Ham or Pepperoni (optional)
- 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 Hot Pepper (optional)
- 1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
For the Dough
You can use your favorite recipe or premade shell/crust. Otherwise, the recipe below is common for the area around Youngstown.
- 1½ Cup Warm Water (110°F to 115°F)
- 2 tsp Sugar
- 1¼ oz Fast-Acting Active Dry Yeast
- 1½ tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 4 Cups All-Purpose Flour (preferably one intended for bread)
For the Sauce
- With the cutting board and knife, slice or chop the bell peppers while making sure you remove all the seeds inside.
- In the saucepan with a wooden spoon, sauté garlic in the olive until soft and yellow (cook longer if you want it darker). Mash the garlic so it becomes something of a paste.
- Remove the garlic oil from heat, allowing it to cool for about 10 minutes and add the peppers.
- Return the peppers swimming in garlic olive oil to a low simmer and add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste along with all the herbs and spices. Cover and cook for 45 minutes, giving it a stir every 15 minutes.
- Remove the sauce from heat and take out the garlic chunks if desired. Allow the mixture to cool and put it in an airtight container. Allow this to sit in the fridge for 24 hours.
For the Dough
- Warm the water to 110°F to 115°F.
- In the medium-sized mixing bowl, add the sugar and yeast.
- Pour the warm water over the yeast and allow it to sit for 10 minutes until it becomes cloudy and frothy.
- In the stand mixer, blend the flour, salt and olive oil together. Then add the yeast mixture until the dough forms.
- Use the spatula to scrape the bowl and press it into the dough.
- Gently knead the dough and form it into a cohesive ball.
- Allow the dough to rise for a few hours or until it at least doubles in size.
To Make the Pizza
- Preheat the oven with pizza pan or baking stone inside at 500°F.
- Take the sauce and cheese out of the refrigerator.
- Divide the dough ball twice or four times depending on if you’re making 12-inch or six-inch pizzas. Make each crust as you’re ready to bake them into the oven
- Gently roll the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle some more flour over the ball.
- With your hands, press the dough beginning at the center and working your way outward.
- Prepare the pizza peel with flour, cornmeal or both to prevent the dough from sticking to it.
- Once you’ve reached the desired shape and size, place the dough onto the pizza peel, smothering it with the sauce and cheese to almost the very edges of the crust.
- Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese and crust are lightly golden brown.
- Allow the pie to rest until it’s cool to the touch.
Tips ; Variations
- If you don’t have a baking stone or pizza peel, you can prepare your pizza on a pizza pan and put it into the oven that way. However, it might be a good idea to make your oven as hot as 550°F to ensure quick and even cooking.
- You can improvise every aspect of this recipe to your liking. However, ensure you use bell peppers in the sauce along with garlic and olive oil. Also, Romano cheese is imperative but parmesan will do as well.
- To stay on the side of authenticity, use only fresh ingredients. This is especially true for the Romano cheese since it’s not advisable to use a generic one that comes in a green can. Grating it yourself is best for flavor, but prepackaged fresh grated is ideal.
As you can see, creating this Brier Hill pizza recipe at home is simple, quick, and oh-so delicious. The most difficult and time-consuming part about it is making the dough from scratch. But, if you’re not an intermediary in the kitchen, just use a premade one.