I’ve mentioned several times that pizza is a staple in this house. Whether we go out for it or make it at home, pizza makes a repeat appearance here. While I love the crisp thin crust pizzas, there is a very special place in my heart and palate for the rich and saucy deep dish pizza. I experienced deep dish pizza for the first time while I visited Chicago with Binks while we were dating. As he had lived there for three years, he had always raved about Gino’s East. After the first bite, talk about a revelation.
A heavy baking dish full of crust, cheese and sauce, perfectly proportioned. Eaten with a fork and knife, I loved the flaky cornmeal crust, full-bodied sauce and hearty cheese. I have been searching for a great recipe since my last visit. That was about 5 years ago. I decided to take another crack at it to see if I could somehow relive that experience. Binks was quite happy to participate in my experiment.
Before I begin, I’ll throw in the towel. No pizza will rival Gino’s (well let’s forget the Giordano’s debate for the purposes of this post). I accept that. However, this homemade version was very delicious. This pizza was highlighted exactly as it should be – the crust and sauce. First, let’s discuss crust. Almost akin to puff pastry, this crust was wonderfully flaky and baked crisp without being too doughy. Second, the sauce is near perfection. I’m a huge sauce fan and I understand the sauce for deep dish is different from for a thin crust. Here, the sauce needs to be chunkier to complement the thick layer of mozzarella. All in all, welcome the new member of the pizza family in rotation in our house. We are quite smitten.
For the dough:
- 1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. (8 1/8 oz.) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (1 3/8 oz.) yellow cornmeal
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 1/8 tsp. instant yeast
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. (5 oz.) water, at room temperature
- 1½ tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
For the sauce:
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp. grated onion
- Pinch of dried oregano
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 clove garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- Pinch of sugar
- 2 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 8 oz. mozzarella, shredded (about 2 cups)
- ¼ oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 tbsp.)
- 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. You know it’s ready when the ball of dough pulls away complete from the sides of the mixer. Coat a large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil, rubbing excess oil from fingers onto blade of rubber spatula. Transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to oil top; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, which should take between 45 to 60 minutes.
- While dough rises, prepare the sauce. Heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and ½ 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 2½ cups, which takes about 25 to 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in basil and oil, then season with salt and pepper.
- To laminate the dough, turn the dough out onto dry work surface and roll into a 8- by 6-inch rectangle. Using offset spatula, spread softened butter over surface of dough. Leaving ½-inch border along edges. Starting at short end, roll dough into tight cylinder. With the seam side down, flatten cylinder into an 9- by 3-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise. Working with one half, fold into thirds like a 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, between 40 to 50 minutes.
- At this point, preheat the oven to 425F. To assemble, coat a 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer the dough ball to a dry work surface and roll out into a 13-inch disk about ¼-inch thick. Transfer the dough to the pan. Lightly press the dough into the pan, working into the corners and 1 inch up the sides. If the dough resists stretching, let rest 5 minutes before trying again.
- Sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella evenly over surface of dough. Spread the tomato sauce over cheese 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.