Yesterday I decided to create some happiness in the form of Chicago Style Pizza. Could any meal say "love" better than homemade deep dish pizza?
Now any good Illinioan (Illini?) will tell you that it all starts with the dough. And we're not talking your regular pizza crust here, we're talking a soft, buttery, biscuit-y miracle.
But once I started doing some research into different recipes, it was really fascinating: more like a giant science project than anything else. And well, maybe I'm a bit nerdy, but I just love science.
Now I tried two recipes, both a little different, but with great results. One was an original deep dish recipe, the other was deep dish with a healthy twist. However, in both recipes, there are 2 things you need to do to insure a perfect flaky crust.
1. Proof your yeast.
So here's the thing, yeast are living organisms. And you need to make sure they are alive and kicking before you put them in your bread. Yeast work by metabolizing the starch in flour into simple sugars. In the process they produce carbon dioxide gas and ethyl alcohol which create air bubbles in the dough...causing the dough to, voila, rise! Magical isn't it? In any case, you can kick start the fermentation process by putting your yeast into a bowl with the warm water called for in the recipe. Drop in the sugar called for in the recipe as well, to give your hungry yeast something to munch on. In about 5-10 minutes you should see air bubbles on the surface of the water. That means you have some happy yeast and they are ready to go :) I told it was like a science project!
More info can be found here.
2. Let your dough chill! After you've punched down and kneaded your dough for the first time, put it in the fridge. This chills the butter or oil, which is necessary for the texture. "When cold butter hits a warm oven, it creates pockets of steam, which is how you end up with tons of flaky layers" (Brown Eyed Baker).
Recipe 1 from Brown Eyed Baker
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
1¼ cups water, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon + 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
This recipe focuses on incorporating butter into the dough through a process called "laminating." Its the same idea behind making croissants. Click on the link above to get the full details.
Recipe 2 adapted from Chowhound
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups white flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
½ cup olive oil
Mix yeast ¼ cup of warm water, ¼ cup of flour and sugar in a bowl cover and let stand in a warm place for 15~20 minutes then mix in all the other ingredients mix well and let stand covered for about 1.5 hours, punch down and knead for about 5 minutes. Split into two dough balls and refrigerate for at least a half hour (dough may continue to rise a little) before rolling out for two pizzas!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup grated onion
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
"Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and 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 a simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to about 2½ cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and olive oil, then season with salt and pepper." (Recipe courtesy Brown Eyed Baker)
For Dough Recipe 1, I decided to keep it traditional and go with the standard sausage topping.
For Dough Recipe 2, since it was a healthier version made with whole wheat flour and olive oil, I stayed with the wholesome theme and made sauteed spinach.,