When I was a kid, we used to go to our neighborhood pizza place at least once a week. You see, every Tuesday and Sunday, our local pizza place had a family special: one deluxe sized (XL) deep dish pizza and a pitcher of pop for a special price. Really, it was just an excuse for our family to regularly consume the deliciousness that is Chicago style deep dish pizza. Our order was always the same, stuffed spinach on a whole wheat crust with a pitcher of good old Coca-Cola. Occasionally, if we had friends visiting we would branch out and order sausage or pepperoni, or be extra boring and just get cheese! To this day, though, the taste of that pizza from our local Chicago pizza place is one of the many flavors that I associate with my childhood.
The crust is an enriched pizza dough with some cornmeal added in for both flavor and texture. And, sorry Papa Hathi! It's made with all-purpose flour. I'll work on a whole wheat one soon, I promise! It's easy to bring it together, but it is important for it to be kneaded enough for the gluten to develop really well, otherwise the pizza crust will take more cake-y and less crust-y. A stand mixer is very handy here. So is allowing the dough time to rest.
The sauce is something that I took a little bit of liberty with in terms of flavor. After my trial and error resulted in one too many pizza 'soups' instead of solid pizza, I learned to use canned crushed tomatoes instead of canned whole tomatoes. To this I add some herbs and garlic to amp up the flavor.
Other things I've learned is that fresh mozzarella is not the way to go (see aforementioned pizza soup). I tend to use either blocks of mozzarella that I shred or pre-shredded mozzarella if I'm pressed for time. Low moisture and high 'meltability' are key here . The topping options are endless, but it is super important the sauce be on top! That's the mark of deep dish pizza! The assembly is variable based on the topping. Spinach pizza is rich with spinach and cheese, so the spinach goes on top of the crust, the cheese on top of the spinach and the sauce on top of the cheese. The pizza that I made for this post was sausage, and thus assembly goes crust then cheese then sausage then sauce. Most toppings work really well on top of the cheese, except for spinach which must go under the cheese.
The pizza is really quick to come together once the crust is done and it's fully assembled. And it's baked in it's own pan, so no worries about sliding it off of a peel onto a stone. 25-30 minutes in the oven and you are rewarded with an incredible treat. Cheesy, tangy, crunchy all in one bite. A whole meal in one piece. A little taste of Chicago in your own home. Even if you live in Chicago, you should try making this once, just so you know you can do it! It's worth it.
So happy Pi day to all! Maybe go savory today and make yourself a deep dish pizza pie to celebrate. You can always finish off your meal with a dessert pie as well. Pi[e] squared. Yum yum!
Makes 1 10 inch pizza
2 cups (250 g) all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup (55 g) coarse yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
1 ¼ tsp. instant yeast
2 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
¾ cup warm water
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, drained
¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh basil (or 2 tsp. dried basil)
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried oregano)
½ Tbsp. fresh marjoram (or ½ tsp. dried marjoram)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced (or 1 Tbsp. garlic powder)
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups shredded low-moisture mozzarella
1-2 slices provolone cheese, torn into medium pieces
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Optional toppings: sausage, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach*, etc. The sky is the limit!
Note: for toppings that leak a lot of fluid like mushrooms, cook them first.
Make the crust:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, instant yeast. Mix well with the paddle attachment to blend. When all the dry ingredients are well incorporated drizzle in the olive oil while beating with the paddle mixer. Drizzle in the water while mixing on low speed with the paddle mixer. When all the water has been incorporated, and the dough begins to come together, switch to the dough hook on the stand mixer. Mix the dough on medium speed for 4-5 minutes. If the dough still seems wet after this, add a bit more all purpose flour and mix again for another minute. Repeat as necessary until the dough forms a nice soft ball that isn't too wet or sticky. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, mix on medium speed for two minutes. Take a small portion of the dough and stretch it with your fingers. If it breaks easily, mix again for 2 minutes until the dough easily stretches without breaking until it is quite thin.
Rub a large bowl with some olive oil and transfer the dough to that bowl to rise. Allow to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. After the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 400F. Turn the dough out onto a well floured counter top. Roll until it is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Gently transfer the dough into a very, very, very well buttered 10 inch cake pan, spring-form is easiest but standard cake pans will work quite well. The dough should be about 1-2 inches tall along the sides, see picture above for reference. Prick all over with a fork and bake in the oven for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Make the sauce:
While the pizza crust is rising, open up the crushed tomatoes and empty into a medium mesh sieve. Allow excess fluid to drain from the tomatoes. Transfer to a bowl and add all of the other ingredients to the drained crushed tomatoes. Set aside until ready to assemble the pizza.
Assemble the pizza:
Place the shredded mozzarella and the provolone directly on top of the par baked crust. Add your other toppings on top of the cheeses (unless using spinach* which should be directly on top of the crust). Carefully spread the sauce on top of the toppings. You should not use all of the sauce, there will be some left over. Sprinkle the parm on top of the sauce. Admire your creation.
Bake the pizza:
Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and has pulled away from the edges of the pan. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Slice, serve, and devour.
* If you plan on using spinach, I recommend using frozen, chopped spinach. Allow it to thaw, squeeze to drain as much liquid as you can, and then layer on top of the crust.