How to Make Deep-Dish Pizza

Yes, you can create authentic Chicago-style pizza in your own kitchen.


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What Is Deep-Dish Pizza?

Traditional pizza starts with a thin- to medium-thick crust spread in a large flat pan topped with a thin layer of sauce, then a thin layer of meat or vegetable toppings. The final touch is a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. As the name suggests, deep-dish pizza is a much thicker product -- about 2 inches high. Like regular pizza, it starts with a layer of dough, but that's where the similarities end. On a deep-dish pizza the crust goes on the bottom as well as up the sides. Cheese is the next ingredient. In fact, some people think of deep-dish pizza as an upside-down pizza because the cheese is the first layer on the bottom crust rather than the final layer. The pizza then gets filled with the usual ingredients, including pizza sauce, Italian sausage, and veggies such as green peppers and onions. Like their thinner cousins, deep-dish pizzas are now available in a bounty of variations, including chicken and vegetarian spins. Do make sure you plan for the extended baking time, which is about 40 minutes.

Also known as Chicago-style pizza, the deep-dish pizza was invented at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago in 1943. In the mid-1970s, two Chicago chains, Nancy's Pizza and Giordano's Pizzeria, experimented with deep-dish concoction and created the stuffed pizza. Piled even higher with toppings, the stuffed pizza has an additional layer of dough on top.

Following are the steps to make delicious deep-dish pizza at home.

What Pan to Use

Choose a 10x2-inch heavy round cake pan to make this pizza. A 10-inch springform pan works well, too; when you remove the side of the pan, it's easy to cut and serve the pizza. Generously grease the pan with vegetable oil. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with cornmeal; set aside.

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How to Make a Homemade Deep-Dish Crust

  • In a large bowl combine 1 cup warm water (120 degrees F to 130 degrees F) and 1 package active dry yeast, stirring to dissolve yeast. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 1-1/2 to 2 cups flour.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in extra flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total).

Tip: To tell if the dough is elastic, gently poke it with a finger. If the dough bounces back and the hole (for the most part) fills in, it is ready.

  • Shape the dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to the grease surface of the dough. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until double in size (50 to 60 minutes). Punch dough down. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

Tip: To see if the dough has doubled in size and is ready to be shaped, press two fingers 1/2 inch into the center. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready to be punched down.

  • Place the dough in the prepared pan. Using oiled hands, press and spread the dough evenly over the bottom and 1-1/2 inches up the sides of pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (30 to 35 minutes.)

How to Prepare the Saucy Meat Filling

  • In a large skillet cook 12 ounces bulk Italian sausage and 1 cup chopped onion until sausage is browned; drain. Pat the meat with paper towels to soak up any excess fat. Stir in one 8-ounce can pizza sauce; one 4-ounce can drained mushrooms; one 3.5-ounce package sliced pepperoni; 2 teaspoons dried basil,* and 1 teaspoon dried oregano.*

Tip: When adding dried herbs, rub them between your fingers before adding to release the oils and flavors.

Assemble and Bake the Deep-Dish Pizza

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Arrange 12 ounces mozzarella cheese slices over the dough. Spoon the filling over the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the edge of the crust is crisp and golden and the filling is heated through. If necessary to prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the crust with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.
  • Cool pizza on a wire rack for 10 minutes. If using a springform pan, remove the sides of the pan. If desired, sprinkle pizza with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves. Cut pizza into wedges. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Frozen Bread Dough Variation

  • Thaw a 16-ounce loaf of frozen whole wheat or white bread dough as directed on package.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll two-thirds of the dough into a 12-inch circle. (If the dough keeps shrinking up instead of staying flat, let the dough rest for a few minutes once or twice during rolling.) Place circle in the prepared pan, pressing the dough 1-1/2 inches up the sides. Add desired pizza fillings. Roll remaining dough into a 10-inch circle and cut into 8 wedges. Arrange wedges over pizza fillings, slightly overlapping edges and sealing edges to bottom crust along edge of pan. Brush top with 1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until filling is hot and crust is done. If necessary, cover with foil the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning.
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