Friday, June 29, 2012

Homemade Pizza, Chicago-Style Deep Dish

June 24, 2012
  • Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
  • Green Salad
  • Vella Merlot
  • Chocolate Chubbies with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Pizza is the most versatile of convenience foods.  Pizza is eaten in restaurants. Pizza is taken from the freezer and reheated. Pizza is ordered for take out, either baked or ready to bake. Pizza is delivered to your door, ready to eat. Pizza is made at home with a pre-made crust (e.g. Boboli).  Pizza can even be made using an English muffin and microwave oven. Pizza, however, is not often made at home from scratch. In fact, I don't think I've ever eaten a homemade pizza. 

Well, it's time for that to change. After all, pizza is just bread, cheese, and tomato sauce and if you have been reading my blog you know I enjoy making my own bread.  Fortunately, America's Test Kitchen has recently published two recipes for pizza that  I want to try: one for Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and the other for a New York style thin-crust pizza. For this Sunday's dinner, Caryn and I had a homemade Chicago-style pizza. (Diane is out of town so it really was a dinner for two.)

The Cook's Illustrated recipe makes two 9-inch pizzas. With just the two of us to eat it, I halved the recipe for the dough. I would have halved the sauce recipe, too, but I could only find 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes at the supermarket and no 14 ounce cans. Rather than waste the extra tomatoes I made a full recipe for the sauce and will use the leftover sauce on pasta. The interesting challenge for the half recipe came when it was time to roll out the dough. In the original recipe the dough is rolled out to 15″x12. The dough is then buttered, rolled up from the short side, flattened, and cut in half. This process creates multiple layers of dough interspersed with butter, similar to a puff pastry dough, which creates a flaky crust. The best course thus seemed to be rolling it out to be roughly 7½x12, butter it, then roll it up from the long, 12 side. This gives you  roll of dough about the same size as what you would get with the two-pizza recipe and it seemed to work out fine.

Making this pizza took some time and effort especially when you compare it with most of the other pizza aquisition techniques. Making the dough combines techniques used to make bread with those used to make pastry. The sauce was straightforward, being based the Test Kitchen's recipe for Quick Tomato Sauce. (It takes just a little more time and effort than just opening a jar of spaghetti sauce, but if you have a few extra minutes it is worth the effort.) I may have reduced it a little more than called for in the recipe but having a thicker sauce should be OK. I used ½ pound of fresh mozzarella that I grated. The recipe also called for a few tablespoons of parmasan to be sprinked on top of the pizza but I just set aside a little mozzarella rather than buy parmesan when I needed only a small amount.

I had been concerned, seeing the photo published with the recipe, that there was too much sauce in this deep-dish pizza. I imagined every bite of pizza being dominated by an acidic tomato sauce. My concern fortunately turned out to be ill-founded. The amount of dough, sauce, and cheese was well balanced and the sauce is not at all acidic. I should have trimmed off some of the extra crust that overlapped the top of the pan but I liked eating the tender, flaky bread on its own so it wasn't all bad. I look forward to trying the Test Kitchen's recipe for thin-crust pizza to see how it compares with the Chicago-style deep dish version, in terms of both taste and the effort needed to make it.

Chocolate Chubbies from Serious Eats and a previous blog post

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza, from Cook's Illustrated
Makes one 9-inch pizza

8⅛ ounces (1 ⅝ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1⅜ ounces (¼ cup) yellow corn meal
¾ teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
5 ounces (⅝ cups) room temperature water
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons, softened
Olive oil

Sauce (makes enough for 2 pizzas, or for 1 pizza and some spaghetti)
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup grated onion (about 1 medium onion)
1/4 teaspoon driecd oregano
Table salt
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Ground black pepper

½ pound fresh mozzarella cheese, grated (about 2 cups)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast and stir them with a hand whisk until combined.
  2. Add water and melted butter and stir for about a minute on low speed using the dough hook until incorporated.
  3. Increase speed to medium and knead for 4-5 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and be glossy and smooth.
  4. Transfer the dough to a medium bowl which has been coated with olive oil. Turn the dough to coat all sides then cover the bowl and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  5. While the dough rises, make the tomato sauce. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter.
  6. Add grated onion, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and cook with occasional stirring to evaporate the liquid and lightly brown the onions, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  8. Add the tomatoes and sugar and bring the sauce to a simmer over high heat. (Note: it will splatter and make a mess unless you pay attention and stir.) Lower the heat to maintain the simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until the sauce is reduced to 2½ cups.
  9. Off heat, stir in basil and olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. The next step for the dough is to laminate it with butter. Turn the risen dough onto a dry work surface (the dough shouldn't be sticky and you won't need to add additional flour) and roll it into a rectangle,  7½x12 (yes, use a ruler).
  11. Spread softened butter on the dough leaving a ½ margin along all four edges.
  12. Starting on the long side, roll the dough into cylinder then flatten it into a rectangle approximately 9x4″.
  13. Fold it into thirds (like you would a business letter), pinch the seams closed, and form the dough into a ball.
  14. Place the dough ball into your bowl, cover, and let it rise in the refrigerator for 45 minutes until nearly doubled. 
  15. Preheat the oven to 425° with a rack in the lowest position.
  16. After rising, roll out the dough into a 12 circle.
  17. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer the dough into the pan, gently pressing it into the corners. Optional: trim the dough so it rises about 1 up the sides of the pan.
  18. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the shredded mozzarella and add the rest to the pan, about 2 cups.
  19. Add 1¼ cups of tomato sauce and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top.
  20. Bake 20-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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