Friday, January 28, 2011

America's Test Kitchen Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

Being someone who cooks as rare as a Sade concert, I decided I would take a stab at making a Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza recipe found on America's Test Kitchen website. The recipe seemed somewhat simple and being a visual person, I appreciated the detailed instructions and the illustrations showing how you roll out the dough.

It started out simple and I followed the instructions to a tee. But, by not reading the instructions from beginning to end when I started, I accidentally put all the butter in when making the dough. It called for "3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and plus 4 tablespoons, softened". When I first read it, I thought it was asking to put in all the butter in at once. I know is sounds ridiculous, but that is what happens when you never cook. Needless to say, the dough didn't rise and just stuck to the counter when I tried to roll it out. Strike 1! The sauce on the other hand came out perfectly. At least I got that one right on the first try.

After realizing how I screwed up the dough, I decided to try again. With correct amount of butter, the dough came out perfectly. It rolled out smoothly, didn't stick and fit perfectly into the pan.

When applying the toppings, I first applied the Mozzarella cheese. What I thought I read was to apply 2 cups of cheese which I couldn't believe how much cheese there was. I went ahead and applied the sauce, pepperoni and black olives, my favorite toppings. It cooked as described and came out with a golden brown crust. When it came time to cut a slice, the cheese just oozed out. It looked like you were cutting into a lemon custard pie, the cheese was so thick. I tried eating a few slices but it was so rich with cheese it made me nauseous and had to throw it out. After reading the recipe again, it dawned on me that it was two cups AFTER you shred the cheese, not two cups (read: 1 lb) of pre-graded cheese. Strike 2!

I still had another dough role from the second time, so I give it another try. This time I only used 1 cup of shredded cheese, pepperoni, ground sausage and caramelized onions. Finally, after all the stress I finally had a good pizza that was actually edible.

Notes from the ATK folks:
  • This recipe makes two 9-inch pizzas, serving 4 to 6 each.
  • Place a damp kitchen towel under the mixer and watch it at all times during kneading to prevent it from wobbling off the counter.
  • Handle the dough with slightly oiled hands, or it might stick.
  • ATK prefers Dragone Whole Milk Mozzarella; part-skim mozzarella can also be used, but avoid pre-shredded cheese, as it does not melt well.
  • ATK preferred brands of crushed tomatoes are Tuttorosso and Muir Glen.
  • Grate the onion on the large holes of a box grater.


3 1/4 cups (16 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 cups water (10 ounces), room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus 4 tablespoons, softened
1 teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated onion , from 1 medium onion (see note)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
table salt
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (see note)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
ground black pepper

1 pound mozzarella cheese , shredded (about 4 cups)
1/2 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)
Pepperoni, cooked sausage, caramelized onion, pitted olives, roughly chopped basil


For the Dough:
  • Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  • Add water and melted butter and mix on low speed until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally.
  • Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 5 minutes. (Dough will only pull away from sides while mixer is on. When mixer is off, dough will fall back to sides.)
  • Using fingers, coat large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil, rubbing excess oil from fingers onto blade of rubber spatula. Using oiled spatula, transfer dough to bowl, turning once to oil top; cover tightly with plastic wrap.
  • Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.
For the Sauce:
  • While dough rises, heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted.
  • Add onion, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in tomatoes and sugar, increase heat to high, and bring to simmer.
  • Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Off heat, stir in basil and oil, then season with salt and pepper.
To Laminate the Dough:
  • Adjust oven rack to lower position and heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Using rubber spatula, turn dough out onto dry work surface and roll into 15- by 12-inch rec-tangle. Using offset spatula, spread softened butter over surface of dough, leaving 1/2-inch border along edges. Starting at short end, roll dough into tight cylinder.
  • With seam side down, flatten cylinder into 18- by 4-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise.
  • Working with 1 half, fold into thirds like business letter; pinch seams together to form ball.
  • Repeat with remaining half.
  • Return balls to oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes.
Combining them all:
  • Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each.
  • Transfer 1 dough ball to dry work surface and roll out into 13-inch disk about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Transfer dough to pan by rolling dough loosely around rolling pin and unrolling into pan.
  • Lightly press dough into pan, working into corners and 1 inch up sides.
  • If dough resists stretching, let it relax 5 minutes before trying again.
  • Repeat with remaining dough ball.
  • For each pizza, sprinkle 2 cups grated mozzarella evenly over surface of dough.
  • Spread 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce over cheese, add whatever toppings you want to use and sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan over sauce.
  • Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove pizza from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


  1. This recipe does not make authentic Chicago deep dish. True Chicago deep dish with its biscuit-like texture depends on two factors: lots of oil and a very short knead time. You need at least 3 Tablespoons of oil for every cup of flour and 1 minute of mixing plus 2 minutes kneading, then a long rise (4-8 hours). If you knead according to this recipe, you will get bread with tomato sauce on it.

    You don't need butter (the buttery taste of some Chicago pizzerias comes from corn oil, although it's common to use butter to grease the pans) and there never has been any cornmeal in authentic Chicago deep dish (the golden yellow color comes from food dye).

    You also don't want to cook the sauce (since it will be cooked in the oven). Look a good brand of ground or crushed tomatoes (6-in-1 is a common brand used). Some use crushed whole tomatoes--again, buy a good brand, drain them and crush them, but do not cook.

  2. The only problem I had was using the 1-1/4 "room temp" water in the dough mix. Although I used "rapid rise" yeast (with an expiration year of 2014), the dough did not rise. When I checked the instructions on the yeast package, it said the water needed to be between 120-130 degrees. I started over, added 125 degree water to the flour/corn meal/sugar/salt/melted butter mix and the dough turned our perfectly!!