Monday, January 3, 2011

Deep Dish Pizza

Today is my husband's 30th birthday. Happy Birthday Love! And, in honor of his birthday, I am making his hands down, most favorite pizza in the entire world.  Authentic, Chicago style, deep dish pizza.  When I married Justin, I didn't realize that I not only vowed to love and to cherish, but also to tirelessly search for an authentic deep dish pizza recipe that I could make at home, since he moved to WV for me.  Let me tell you, this was no easy task.  I have scoured so many websites, blogs, recipe books, I was even going to ask the waitress at Gino's East one time until Justin stopped me.  It was an excruciating journey.  I would find a recipe that I thought would work, prepare it, and then Justin would do "the taste test."  He was so sweet, and every time he would say, "It's really good sweetie,"  pause "but its not quite right."  Then I would hang my head in defeat.  Another battle lost.  That is, until I found THIS recipe.  The first time Justin took a bite, his eyes lit up and I just knew this was "the one." And it was.  Since then, I make this and only this recipe when preparing pizza in our house.

Before I share this recipe, there are a few things you need to know about deep dish.  First, it is key to let your dough sit for at least 8-10 hours.  Prepare the dough the night before and let it sit out until morning. 
Photo by Meg McCluskey

Second, you must put the cheese on the BOTTOM of the pizza: before the sauce, before the pepperoni. The first time we made this for friends, one of our guests said "Oh man Sarah, we could have picked up cheese for you if we would have known you ran out."  Little did he know there was a ton of cheese awaiting him at the bottom of his pizza pie.

Photo by Meg McCluskey

Finally, the two secret ingredients you must use are cream of tartar and corn oil, not vegetable oil, not extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), corn oil!  Got it?  Good.


1 Cup water (luke warm)
1 package yeast
1/3 cup oil mixture (95% corn oil, 5% EVOO)
1 T sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 lbs Bread Flour
Pizza sauce recipe (see below)


In a bowl, put water, yeast, oil, cream of tartar, and sugar. Mix with hand until yeast dissolves. Then, pour in Bread Flour a little at a time. Mix with your hand. Just curve your hand like a dough hook and hold the bowl and mix. Then, knead it for ten minutes. Not 5, not 8, but 10.  Kneading is a crucial step of this recipe, so I am going to go step by step through this process. 

When you start kneading, your dough will look like this.  To knead the dough, pull one end of the dough out away from you, then wrap it back on top of itself. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. At first, you won't be able to pull the dough that much or else it will break, we don't want that.  Just be patient, the dough will start to become more elastic. 

Keep kneading, kneading, kneading.  You can whistle while you work if you like.  After about 5 minutes your dough should look like this:

And finally, the end result.

To make sure your dough is ready, push two fingers into the dough.  If the imprints stays, then your dough is done!

 Next, roll it into a ball, and put it in a bowl with oil brushed in the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. let sit overnight unrefrigerated. It is very important to only let the dough rise once! When you are ready to make your pizza, take the dough out of the bowl.  Begin to roll the dough into a circle with your hands.  You are going to be so amazed at how easy it is to work with this dough.  it is so soft and wonderful!  Next, place the dough in your deep dish pan.  Oops, I forgot that part.  You need a deep dish pan.  I bought mine on amazon (see link at the bottom of this post). It is important to work the dough all the way up the sides of the pan.  At first, the dough will not want to  stick, just keep moving your fingers around the sides of the pizza pan for a few minutes.  it will eventually stay on its own. 
Photo by Meg McCluskey

Next, add cheese to your pizza crust. you want to add several heaping handfuls of cheese. Trust me on this one.  Now, technically you are supposed to let this crust and pizza sit in the refrigerator for a day before you proceed.  If you are not a die hard deep dish pizza fan you can skip this step. See my baker's note at the bottom of the page to understand how to adjust for skipping this step.

Photo by Meg McCluskey

Finally, Add your pepperoni (and sausage if you'd like.  You can use whatever toppings you like but pepperoni or sausage is the most traditional.  Lastly, you will add your sauce. Yes, sauce is last, not first. The sauce recipe is very simple:

two 28 ounce can of plum or roma tomatos – less ¼ c of the sauce before you mush it
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. of basil
1/2 tsp of oregano
fresh ground black pepper

Take the tomatos and sauce and place into a bowl. Using your hands, mash the tomatos up so that there are no chunks bigger around than a quarter. Once this is done, add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Your sauce may seem runny.  Please resist reducing the liquid because the sauce will thicken quite a bit while baking. 

Photo by Meg McCluskey

Bake pizza in oven preheated to 350 for 45 minutes. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes.  Then cut, serve, and enjoy!

Photo by Meg McCluskey

Baker's Notes:

*If you want to skip the step of putting the crust and cheese in the refrigerator, I recommend you make your dough first thing in the morning before you go to work.  This should give it enough time to get that yeasty under ton that deep dish that deep dish is recognized by.

Source: chef talk

Necessary equipment:
(This kit is cheaper than purchasing the pan alone and it comes with a great deep dish spatula)


  1. How much cheese do you need? Is it shredded mozzarella cheese?

    I can't wait to try it! :)

  2. I normally use an entire medium sized bag (or 1 1/2 small bags). I can't remember how many cups it is. I will check next time I go to the store. Basically you want to fill it with enough cheese so that you just have room for the pepperoni and sauce. Its a lot of cheese, but it melts down and into the crust nicely.
    Also, if you are making it for the first time, I would buy an extra can of the tomatoes just to make sure you end up with enough sauce.