Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fantabulous Food! Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza Dough

This will be sort of a series of posts on what has become my signature pizza amongst my family members (particularly my dad and my husband). Justin and I were watching the Travel Channel one Sunday, and there was a whole special on the best deep dish pizzas in the country - this made up both really hungry. So, I looked up how to make everything and I happened to find the winning combination of recipes. I was a little intimidated at first - I think pizza in general is something most of us are a little hesitant to make from scratch - but these recipes are really easy. Even the dough is very simple to make and most of the time is just to let it rise.

It is a lot to undertake all at once for one meal, so I recommend making each recipe (the dough and the sauce) a few days before you put it all together for your pizza :)

So, today's recipe will focus on the easiest part to make ahead -

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza Dough:
1/4 oz active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
3 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup medium grind yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt or 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water. Add sugar and 1/4 cup of flour
and stir with wooden spoon or spatula until well combined.
2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.
You will honestly be surprised at just how much this rises (I always am).
3. Add remaining 1 cup of warm water, 3 cups of flour, cornmeal, salt, and 1/2 cup of olive oil.
4. Mix dough with wooden spoon and incorporate as much flour as possible. It will become too thick to mix anymore with a spoon, just mix it as much as you can.
5. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface
and knead until soft and elastic, about 10 to 12 minutes. I set a timer to make sure I am going to full time.
It will be sticky but shouldn't stick to your hands. Add only a minimum amount of flour to keep it from sticking. You really don't need much flour at all. Because of the 1/2 cup of oil in the recipe, I've never had a problem with it sticking to the counter or my hands much.
For the dough into a ball when finished kneading.
6. Lightly oil a large bowl. I put the oil on a paper towel and wipe the inside of the bowl really well so it's covered generously.
Add dough and turn to coat on all sides.
7. Cover bowl with plastic wrap
and place a clean, damp kitchen towel over it. Set bowl in a warm spot and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
(For a slow rise, place covered bowl in fridge and let rise 10 to 12 hours, returning to room temperature before using). *At this point, you can either follow the rest of the recipe or you can freeze the dough. If you want to wait and make your pizza later, scroll down to step #11.
8. When dough is doubled,
punch it down and knead for 2-3 minutes.
Oil a 14" round deep dish pan
and press the dough evenly in the pan.
I begin pressing the center down to reach the edges of the pan
Then I pull the dough up the sides with my fingertips.
If the dough rips a little, just press it back together. After pulling it up the sides, I go back around the pan and press my finger from the knuckle up into the corner to make sure it doesn't end up too thick with dough.
*If you do not have a 14" deep dish pan, you can use any round pan. I use a 9.5" round pan with 2.25" tall sides, so I divide my dough in half. One half of the dough is plenty for my pan and I freeze the other half for next time. Let dough rise in pan for 15 to 20 minutes.
9. Dough will flatten out, so Press dough until it comes up 2 inches along the sides of the pan and is even on the bottom and corners.
So, I basically repeat the pulling up the sides and pressing down the corner again.
10. Proceed with any deep dish pizza recipe.

11. To freeze dough:  form your dough into a round ball. Coat dough ball with olive oil
and wrap tightly in plastic wrap - make sure to get it as tight as you can! Air is the enemy!

Once it is wrapped, I like to wrap it once more with a freezer plastic wrap,
but this is not absolutely necessary.
Place your wrapped dough ball in a freezer safe ziploc bag (squeezing out as much air as possible) or container.
Freeze for up to 2 months.

*When you want to use the dough, just take it out and set it on your counter in the morning to make you pizza for dinner. It will have sufficiently thawed by then. If you put it in a container to freeze like I did, make sure to open the container or it could break as the dough rises.

I promise this isn't as complicated as it looks :) Give it a try!

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