Cooking With Keras: Deep Dish Pizza

What’s your favorite type of pizza? So many different styles! New York, Sicilian, Chicago, St Louis, sushi, calzones, and so much more! I love them all, but apparently some people really HATE Chicago-style deep dish pizza:

It’s a tale as old as time, New York vs Chicago pizza, distinct in their own ways. Thin foldable grease traps from New York, or the thick gooey monster slice from Chicago. Which is better?

The crust: while the dough for the Chicago pizza results in a thicker crust, perfect for holding all the delicious cheese, sauce, and toppings, one thing must be made clear: it is not dense and heavy; it’s flaky and buttery. Crisp on the outside and soft and delicious on the inside!

The sauce: the thin, oily sauce of New York-style pizza can cause quite a mess when you try to eat it. Make sure you have napkins ready, because it’ll be dripping everywhere! Compared to the rich, chunky, robust sauce used in a deep dish pizza, it’s quite bland. Chicago-style sauce is one of a kind!

The cheese: while both styles of pizza use gooey mozzarella sprinkled with parmesan cheese, the Chicago-style deep dish doesn’t skimp on the melted goodness. Underneath the sauce of the deep dish pizza is full of chunks of mozzarella and provolone cheese.

The toppings: while they are often hidden between the thick crust, gooey cheese and river of sauce, the toppings play an important role in helping a deep dish pizza reach the top of the pizza games. More than just a few pieces of pepperoni scattered across the crust or a handful of crumbled sausage dashed among the rest of the toppings, a Chicago-style pizza really has to pack in a lot of toppings if they’re going to get the recognition they deserve.

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Let’s Make a Pizza!

The dough for a deep dish pizza is going to be a little bit different than a hand-tossed pizza. Click HERE to find my hand-tossed pizza recipe where I go in to great detail on measuring, kneading, and proofing the dough. Although I strongly recommend using a scale to measure the weights of ingredients, making bread doesn’t have to be perfectly exact.

The baking percentages for the deep dish pizza will result in a slightly drier dough, but it’s still made quite the same. Add water, salt, and yeast to a stand mixer. Put in 3/4 of the flour and mix, let it rest for 20 minutes to hydrolyze. Slowly add the remaining dough until a tight ball forms. Let knead for another 5 minutes. Now we’ll let it rest and rise. Turn the dough out on to the counter, and roll it flat into a rectangle.

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Spread half a stick of softened butter onto the dough, roll it up like a cinnamon roll, cut it in half, reform it into two balls. These layers of butter is what gives the deep dish pizza the perfect biscuit-like texture. Let rest on the counter or in the fridge until ready to assemble.

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Next, the Fillings!

The sauce is a chunky thick sauce full of crushed tomatoes, garlic, onion, salt, parmesan cheese, pepper flakes, basil, and a dash of sugar. Yes, sugar. But just a bit to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes.

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Add some butter or oil to a pan, and saute half a diced onion. Once the onions begin to brown, add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 20-30 minutes.

My go-to choice of toppings when I make a deep dish pizza is the pork trifecta! Bacon, Canadian bacon, and pepperoni! I like to cut them up into similar sized pieces. First, cook the bacon. Remove from the pan, and then cook the Canadian bacon. Drain the grease and mix all three together.

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We’re almost ready! Preheat the oven to 425, remove the dough from the fridge (if you put it in there to begin with), and slice or shred your provolone and mozzarella cheese.

Putting It All Together

Flatten your dough into a disc that is slightly larger than your cast iron skillet. Place it inside your greased skillet, making sure to press the dough up along the edges since this is going to be a very thick pizza! We start the stacking by first adding a layer of cheeses. When this cooks, this is separate the sauce from the dough so it doesn’t get soggy!

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Next, we’ll add our toppings. In this case, my pork trifecta! Feel free to use whatever you like. Could be ground sausage, pepperonis, vegetables, plain cheese, whatever! Top off the pizza with your sauce, and bake it in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

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Check on dough after about twenty minutes to make sure it’s not burning. If the crust is getting a little too charred, cover it with tin foil until it finishes cooking. Once you remove it from the oven, add some parmesan cheese on top and let it cool before removing it from the pan.

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500g all-purpose flour (~3.5 cups, ~18 ounces)
1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
2 and 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 packet)
300g slightly warm water (~1.25 cups, ~10 ounces)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided (1/4 cup melted, 1/4 cup softened)
olive oil for coating
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes1
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella, sliced or shredded
1/2 pound provolone, sliced or shredded
Grated parmesan cheese, to tasting

What I like to use:
1 pound bacon, diced and cooked
1/2 pound canadian bacon, diced and cooked
1 handful pepperoni, diced

Easy Directions:

For the dough: Mix the water, salt, sugar, yeast in a bowl. Add to a stand mixer with about 3/4 of the flour. Mix on low for a few minutes, and then let rest for 20 minutes. With a dough hook, slowly knead in the remaining dough until absorbed. Knead for another 5-10 minutes. Shape in to a ball, and add to a greased bowl. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and let rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size. Remove from bowl and roll flat onto a lightly floured counter. Spread the softened butter onto the dough and roll up length-wise. Cut in half, and reform the two dough sections into balls. Return to a lightly greased bowl and let rise again for 1 hour or place the bowls in the fridge until ready to make the pizza.

For the sauce: add butter to a sauce pan and saute onions. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.

For the toppings: Dice the bacon and saute in a pan. Remove and saute the Canadian bacon in the leftover bacon grease. Combine with diced pepperoni to make the pork trifecta! I like to add the meat to the sauce for assembly.

Preheat oven to 425F

Assembly: Once the dough has risen a second time, roll it out into a disc on a lightly floured surface. Make the dough bigger than the 9-inch pans, so about 12-inches in diameter. Grease the pans with olive oil and add the dough discs to each pan. Make sure the dough follows the pan up to the lip. Add half the cheese to each pizza, followed by half the sauce. Bake the pizzas for about 30 minutes. Check halfway thru and cover with tinfoil if the crust is starting to burn. Remove the pizzas from the oven and allow to cool in the pans placed on a wire rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, slice, serve, and enjoy!