Friday, October 28, 2011

Sweet Pizza Sauce

Hellooooooooo.  I am back.  I never really left but just found it hard to blog in the summer.  The fall came and I fell off track horribly with my eating, gained a bit of weight and have been resisting making anything that I felt was blog-worthy.

Although this may seem like a very un-blog-worthy recipe, I felt like I had finally found my go-to pizza sauce and wanted to share it with you.

Let me preface this recipe with a story about a little pizza place in my hometown called Pizza Oven.  Anyone who is reading this who has been away from Pizza Oven, like myself, is likely drooling at the thought of this little hole in the wall pizza joint. A trip back home is not complete without getting a tray pizza and a bucket of wings and sharing it with my mom, step-father, brother and step-grandfather.  It’s one of the most gluttonous moments I have each year.  I eat as much of that pizza as I can that night and I don’t care.  Those who know Pizza Oven know what I am speaking of.

Pizza Oven has a very sweet sauce.  One in which I’ve been trying to mimic for years.  I add sugar to my sauce and while it’s sweet, it does not have the something special about it that Pizza Oven’s sauce has.  I have never been able to figure out what it is that makes their sauce tastes like it does.  I have had a discussion with my friend Michele about this and while both of us do a lot of tinkering in the kitchen, we can’t crack the secret.

I am not going to say that this recipe is a clone for Pizza Oven but it is the closest I have ever come to making a sweet sauce that doesn’t just taste like I added a bunch of sugar to some canned tomato product.

I made the sauce and used it the same day and really enjoyed it.  It’s actually a Papa John’s copycat recipe.  I know, I know…chain pizza?  Yes.  I love Papa John’s and while there was never one really close to us, there was one that was close enough but it has closed.  There are still a couple around but are too far to drive for take-out, even this one we used to use was pushing it as far as distance.  The sauce seemed to mimic Papa John’s very well.  I had tried to mimic their dough as well and I felt quite happy with the result.

Next day I needed a quick lunch so I took a Flat-Out wrap and made a pizza with it and used some of the leftover sauce.  Topped it with some sliced up leftover sausage and mozzarella cheese and had myself a little pizza.  As I sat there and ate my pizza I could not help but notice how the flavor of the sauce had developed over night in the fridge.  There were certain bites that were very reminiscent of Pizza Oven.  Even on a light Flat Out wrap.

I then made another pizza with the sauce on a beer bread crust.  I had seen a blog using the beer bread recipe as pizza crust and thought it was a brilliant idea.  Quick and easy…no kneading, no rise time.  I had told my husband how the sauce was reminding me of Pizza Oven and as he started to eat the pizza on the beer bread crust, he did not think so.  Then, somewhere during his second piece, he declared that he understood what I was saying. 

There is something about this sauce that almost gets it.  There has to be enough of the sauce in the bite of pizza as well as the cheese being just right.  It’s going to take a lot of tweaking to make any pizza taste like Pizza Oven but I feel like I at least have a start with this sauce.  As anyone who’s had the pizza knows, their crust is a bit different too and I feel like that maybe even more of a challenge than the sauce.  No, I will likely never make a perfect Pizza Oven clone but if I can manage a bite or two of a homemade pizza that brings me to the oblivion I feel when I eat Pizza Oven, I’ll take it for now until we get back home to get the real deal.

Sweet Pizza Sauce

Adapted from:’s message boards (which is Todd Wilbur’s copycat recipe for Papa John’s sauce)

1 28 ounce can of tomato puree
3 tbsp sugar
3 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp basil
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp garlic

It’s as easy as putting all these ingredients into a saucepan, mixing them up, bringing them all to a boil over medium heat and then lowering the hear and simmering for 15-20 minutes. 

Now, I used it right away.  Of course I let it cool a little before I put it on the raw pizza dough.  However, if you read all my blah, blah, blah above you will know that I preferred the more developed flavor of the sauce after it had sat in the fridge overnight.

(If you looked at the recipe in the link I provided for where I got the recipe from, you will notice that they added water to the recipe.  I did not forget to include it, I left it out.  I felt that once I had the other ingredients together that I liked the consistency of the sauce.  I felt that adding water to it would have made it way too thin.) 

As always, a few notes about the ingredients:

Tomato puree

I could do a whole year’s worth of blogging about Wegmans but I will keep this short and tell you that I used Wegmans Organic Tomato Puree and cannot be happier that I now have a Wegmans close enough to be able to use their products.  I usually use Muir Glen which I find at Trucci’s for about $2.69-$2.89 a can.  Wegmans brand is $1.69 so I am thrilled.  I have about 6 cans of it in my cupboard right now.  This is the base ingredient for any sauce I make since I can’t do any chunk at all in my sauce.  I’m just way too picky for my own good.


I had mentioned a while back in one of my blogs that I had spotted organic sugar at BJs Wholesale Club.  At the time I hadn’t quite convinced myself that it was worth it but have since changed my mind.  What brought me to my decision was that the sugar is unbleached and it’s fair trade.  Buying it at a wholesale club makes it much more affordable...if they did not have it, I would not be buying it.

Olive Oil

There’s nothing too special about the oil I used but I did want to note that I’ve been keeping my olive oil in the fridge.  This calls for planning ahead to use it so it can un-solidify or else you have to run the bottle under warm water which, in my opinion, is wasteful of water and the heating oil it takes to heat the water...cold temps are here so I’m super aware of our usage of the heating oil because that bill when they fill the tank up is a killer.  I had done some reading about cooking oils and feel better keeping olive oil in the fridge so it does not go rancid as quickly.  Sometimes it takes me a long time to get through a bottle and I’d always just kept it on my counter.  I’ve just started to dabble in learning about oils/fats-what’s good, what’s not so good.  I find it all a little overwhelming since everything we once thought about saturated fats is now being called out as maybe not as true as was once thought.  At any rate, as well as a few other things, I did take from my reading this tip about olive oil in the fridge.   
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