Don’t you love the hand-stretched pizza craze that is sweeping our cities right now? I’ve never been fond of pan pizzas, so the rustic, irregular, thin, brick oven pizzas that are being so deliciously created everywhere are just blowing my mind. I LOVE THEM. I already consider pizza to be one of my most favorite meals ever, and then places go and put fennel salami and homemade soffritto on it.
Out of this world.
So would you be shocked then, to find out that one of my all time favorite pizzas is simply crust, marinara, and cheese? I have Chicago to thank for this. When we visited, we knew we had to try this deep dish stuff you always hear about. My expectations were iffy. I mean, not being a lover of pan-pizzas, or any non-thin-crust pizza, I thought it would just be ok. Good, but not life-changing.
Then we ate it, and proceeded to spend hundreds of dollars getting pizzas over-nighted to everyone we know. True story.
Maybe I’m a cliche, but this stuff was so mind-blowingly addictive. How can such a basic meal elicit such responses? Especially when I already am such a pizza lover?
The crust. They throw some type of magic into Chicago style deep dish crust. It’s slightly sweet, buttery, and flaky…so different from what you expect of a pan pizza. SO different. SO delicious.
Since our trip up there, I’ve bought any frozen pizza I come across that looks comparably similar to what we had in Chicago. Central Market has a good one, as does Trader Joe’s….if you’re looking. But, imagine my surprise (and shock and delight and overall giddiness!!!!) when I found out that the aboslute best duplicate of what we had up there could be made AT HOME!
AND ITS SO EASY!
Well, it’s time-consuming, but not at all difficult. In fact, I thought it was probably the easiest pizza dough I’ve ever worked with. Please do not let the length of the recipe stress you out. It does take some time, but the steps are simple. I’m beside myself, still, to think about having this crazy good pizza at my fingertips anytime I want it. Do the exclamation points and uppercase letters do anything to stress to you how amazing this pizza is?!
Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
for the crust
3 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp salt (not coarse)
2 tsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 c room temp water
3 Tbs butter, melted
4 Tbs butter, softened
for the sauce
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 c grated onion (I used my cheese grater)*
1/4 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp sugar
2 Tbs chopped basil*
1 Tbs olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
*In a pinch, I’ve used dried, minced onion, and dried basil. The sauce still came out awesome.
for the pizza
4 c shredded mozzerella cheese,
1/3 c shredded parmesan cheese
Dough, part 1
In the bowl of your stand mixer (with your dough hook) mix all dry ingredients briefly, until combined. Pour in water and melted butter and mix on low for another minute or so. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then increase speed to medium for another 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl. My dough came together really quickly, and was super easy to remove from the bowl…it wasn’t sticky at all.
Remove dough from mixer bowl and place in a lightly oiled bowl to rise (make sure you turn the dough when you place it in the bowl so all sides get coated). Cover with saran wrap and let rise for approximately an hour, or until doubled in volume. Mine didn’t take quite this long. While you wait, start the sauce.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, adding onion, oregano and 1/2 tsp salt when warm. When onion begins to brown around the edges add the garlic and cook for a few seconds longer…you don’t want it to burn. Once you start to smell garlic, its cooked long enough.Add in crushed tomatoes and sugar and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and let cook another 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add in basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Dough, part 2
This is where this recipe can read as tricky, but its really, really not….don’t give up!
Turn dough out onto counter or pastry mat. This dough was so easy to work with that I didn’t even need to flour my surface, but if you feel you need it, lightly sprinkle your surface and/or rolling pin with flour. Roll dough into a large rectangle (approx 12″ x 15″) and spread softened butter over the top, leaving a slight border around the edges. From the short end, roll dough up tightly, then re-flatten cylinder into a rectangle. Cut rectangle into half, then fold each half into thirds, like a trifold brochure. You should have two pieces of dough now, each of which has been folded into thirds. Take each piece and pinch the open ends together, forming a ball and sealing all the butter inside.
Place dough balls back in oiled bowl, re-cover, and place in fridge until doubled in volume…about another hour.
Gather two round cake pans and spread two tablespoons of olive oil into each. Remove dough from fridge when ready, and roll each ball into a large circle about 1/4″ thick. Drape dough over your rolling pin and move it into an oiled cake pan, pressing the dough into the edges of the pan and up the side. The dough might shrink down a bit on the sides, and that’s ok. It doesn’t need to go up the entire edge of the pan, but enough to hold all the yummy filling in. Repeat with other dough ball.
Preheat oven to 425 and move oven rack to a lower position in your oven.
Divide the mozzarella evenly among the pans, covering the surface of the dough. Then top each with 1 1/4- 1 1/2 c sauce (I used all the sauce, and ended up with about 1 1/2 cups for each pizza). Finish with about 3 tablespoons of parmesan on each. At this point, you can wrap one of the pizzas, pan and all, in saran wrap. Completely wrap it up…air tight…and stick it in the freezer until ready to bake. and bake for 20-30 minutes. When golden brown, remove and let rest. If you cut into it right away, all the toppings will slide off in a warm, delicious, but sloppy mess.
And please, after all this work, enjoy the heck out of this meal! I know it seems complicated, but it’s really just a lot of down time, waiting for the dough to rise, etc. If you have any questions about any of the steps, I would be more than happy to clarify…I’ll do whatever I can to make sure you get to try this!!
Recipe adapted from, and with thanks to Cooks Illustrated, once again. I mean, what can’t they do.