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Diving into Deep-Dish Pizza

Diving into Deep-Dish Pizza

As winter sets in and the temperatures plummet, I find myself craving more hearty, rib-sticking meals. What could be better on a cold, frosty day than the gooey, cheesy deliciousness of pizza? But not just any pizza…no, it must be Chicago-style deep-dish pizza!

Chicago-style deep-dish pizza

Chicago-style deep-dish pizza

For those of you not familiar with this type of pizza, the name tells you all you need to know: it’s really deep because it’s made in a pie or cake pan. Take a look at the picture on the right - that is one deep pizza!

Unfortunately, since we no longer live in Chicago, finding an authentic deep-dish pizza is practically impossible. So I only had one option: make it myself.

By this point, I’ve probably already lost those readers who prefer the thinner New York-style pizza! The rest of you can read on…

The Internet, of course, has many many deep-dish pizza recipes. Each one claims that it is the best and most authentic, so it took a lot of research to find a recipe that truly did live up to our memories of Chicago-style pizza. I’m not sure who they are, but the creators of Realdeepdish.com are truly deep-dish pizza experts, and provide a ton of details (and some amusing rants) on the topic.

Below are details on how to make a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza at home, and I strongly encourage you to try it because it is so delicious. But be warned: deep dish pizza is not for the faint of heart so be very hungry when you're ready to eat!

What you need

Dough ingredients (makes an 8” (20 cm) pizza which is usually enough for 2 people)

  • 130 g (1 cup plus ½ tablespoon) all-purpose / plain flour

  • 78 g (1/3 cup) lukewarm water

  • 25 g (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons) oil

  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast

  • 0.5 g salt (less than ¼ teaspoon) - optional

  • 0.5 g sugar (less than ¼ teaspoon) - optional

Topping ingredients

  • Approximately 220 g (8 oz) low moisture mozzarella cheese (enough to cover the base of pizza)

  • Approximately 410 g (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes. You can either buy the tomatoes with basil, or buy them without and add whatever herbs you prefer. I added 1 teaspoon of dried oregano to mine.

  • A couple of tablespoons of grated cheese – e.g. Romano, parmesan, or I used strong cheddar

  • Whatever other ingredients you want on your pizza such as pepperoni, sausage, onions, peppers, etc. The Frugalitude household prefers to go vegetarian, so our additional toppings are onions, olives, sliced tomato and mushrooms.

You’ll also need a pan to bake the pizza in – I used an 8” (20 cm) cake pan. Just be sure that it’s at least 1.5” (3.8 cm) deep.

What to do

Making the dough

  • Dissolve the sugar and salt into the water, and then add the yeast, oil and about 1/5 of the flour. Mix together - it should form a thick batter.

  • Add the rest of the flour, and mix until it forms a shaggy dough.

  • Knead the dough so that it forms a smooth ball. Don’t over-knead, it should only take about 2-3 minutes.

  • Lightly coat a bowl with oil (so the dough doesn’t stick), place the dough in the bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size (about 1-2 hours).

Preparing your oven

About an hour before you want to cook the pizza, place your pizza stone on a lower rack your oven. Cooking pizza on a pizza stone is the preferred method, but if you don’t have one, here’s a couple of alternatives:

  • Use an upside-down cookie or baking sheet, or

  • Cover about half of the oven rack with foil. You will want to cook the pizza on the foil, but also allow room for the air to circulate around the foil and pizza.

Then preheat your oven to 500°F/260°C - this will allow enough time for your pizza stone to heat up.

Assembling the pizza

  • Start by preparing your pizza ingredients:

    • Slice the mozzarella cheese. I had approximately 1/3” (1 cm) thick slices.

    • Drain the tomatoes in a strainer or fine sieve.

    • Cut up whatever vegetables and/or meat, if necessary.

    • Grate the Romano or Parmesan or cheddar cheese.

  • Lightly grease only the bottom of your pizza pan

  • Place the dough into the pizza pan and press it out into the pan. Here are some very helpful guidelines from realdeepdish.com:

  • Once you’ve shaped the dough in the pan, you then need to add your other ingredients in the following order: mozzarella cheese, other fillings like meat or vegetables, tomato sauce and finally grated cheese:

    • Place the mozzarella slices on the dough, making sure the pizza bottom is totally covered. Overlapping the cheese is OK.

    • Then add your other ingredients on top of the mozzarella. I added olives, chopped onion and mushrooms to mine.

    • Next, spoon the crushed tomatoes over the other ingredients, making sure they are all covered.

    • You can then add more ingredients on top of the tomatoes if you want. I added sliced, fresh tomatoes to my pizza.

    • Lastly, sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Baking the pizza

  • Turn your oven down to 450°F/232°C and place the pizza pan directly on the pizza stone (or foil or upturned baking sheet).

  • Bake for about 35 minutes (if your pan is darker in color) or 40 minutes if, like me, you are using a light grey pan. The darker pans absorb heat faster, so the pizza cooks a little faster.

  • Remove from oven and let the pizza sit for about 5 minutes.

  • Serve and enjoy!

How much time?

Actual hands on time to make the pizza was about 25 minutes, but make sure you have a couple of hours to let the dough rise, and then another 35-40 minutes to bake it.

Making the dough

  • 7 minutes to mix and knead the dough

  • 2 hours for the dough to rise

Assembling the pizza

  • 10 minutes to prepare the pizza toppings

  • 2 minutes to press out the dough

  • 3 minutes to add the cheese, tomatoes and other ingredients.

Cost?

Making an 8” deep-dish pizza with tomatoes, mushrooms, olives and onions cost $6.03.

If I still lived in Chicago, a medium deep-dish pizza with tomatoes, mushrooms, olives and onions would cost me $26.95 plus tax.

Getting a deep-dish pizza shipped from Chicago (2 10” pizzas with one topping) costs $75 plus shipping.

Is it worth it?

Totally! A definite 5-pig dish – it was delicious and surprisingly easy to make, once I had found a great recipe. Plus, it was very economical. If I could give this a 6-pig rating, I would!

If you have never experienced deep-dish pizza, then give this recipe a go. It’s great to make and share with family and friends.

Anything else I should know?

Can I make the dough ahead of time?

Yes, you can. After the dough has risen, punch it down to remove all the air and then place the dough (covered) in the fridge for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to use it, remove from the fridge and then let it rise again. Once this is done, you can then assemble your pizza.

My pan is bigger than 8” (20 cm), how can I make this deep-dish pizza recipe?

By increasing the amount of dough, you make, as well the other ingredients/toppings.

Here’s the dough ingredients for other pan sizes:

9” (23 cm) pan 10” (25 cm) pan 14” (35.5 cm) pan
Flour 163 g (1 1/3 cup) 200 g (1 2/3 cup) 382 g (3 cups)
Water 3.5 oz (5 tablespoons) 4.5 oz (½ cup + ½ tablespoons) 8 oz (1 cup)
Oil 30 g (2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) 38 g (3 tablespoons) 73 g (1/3 cup)
Yeast 1/3 teaspoon ½ teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon
Salt Less than ¼ teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon 1/3 teaspoon
Sugar Less than ¼ teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon 1/3 teaspoon
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