Pizza developed in Naples, Italy between the 16th and 19th centuries. It came to the U.S. with Italian immigrants and developed into regional styles, including hand-tossed and pan pizza.
When making a hand-tossed pizza, you knead the dough until it is tender. After kneading, you repeatedly tosses the dough into the air to stretch and aerate it so the finished crust will be tender. After the dough is shaped, it is pressed into the pan before being covered with sauce, cheese and toppings.
Also called Chicago-style pizza or deep-dish pizza, pan pizza was invented at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago in the 1940s. For this you build the thick crust directly in a deep pie pan and partially bake it before adding cheese, meat and other toppings. It is then returned to the oven to finish baking. Pan pizza is usually eaten with a fork.
Which to Choose
Thin crust or thick crust is mostly a matter of personal preference. If you’re making it at home, the pan pizza will take longer to prepare because it needs to be cooked twice. Deep-dish pizza dough may also have a flakier texture and use several types of fat. A classic pizza dough used to make hand-tossed pizza may use only a small amount of oil to grease the ball of dough while it rises.
References and ResourcesEncyclopedia of Food and Culture: Pizza
What's Cooking America: History and Legends of Pizza
Food Editorials: History of Chicago Style Pizza
American Heritage Magazine: American Pie
Chef Maestro: Classic Hand Tossed Pizza
King Arthur Flour: Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza
King Arthur Flour: Pizza Crust