About six years ago I took my first trip to the Windy City. It was February and very cold! We had a few things on our list of plans to do in the city, #1 was visiting the American Girl Doll Cafe where I enjoyed a lunch with my daughter and her doll and me with my childhood doll Kirsten. #2 on the list was Chicago deep dish pizza. I had been hearing for years about this iconic pizza and had been researching the best places to get a slice, or a whole pie for our group. We ended up at the touristy Lou Malnatis and with my first bite, I knew that I loved this pizza. It was super cheesy, a buttery crust and had lots of sauce on top…basically all of my favorite food groups in one.
What is chicago Deep Dish?
Chicago deep dish is not a regular slice of pizza. It is most commonly eaten with a fork and knife and because it is so substantial and full of toppings you only need a slice or two to fill you up. Since that first time of eating Chicago-deep dish, every time I’ve visited the Windy City (which has been quite a few since my brother moved there a year or two after our first visit), we order some deep dish and enjoy a little bit of Chicago-style heaven on a plate. I never entertained the thought about making this iconic dish myself because I thought it would be too difficult. Turns out, I was wrong.
As fate would have it, a few years later we ended up being neighbors and good friends with a family who grew up and lived in Chicago. They introduced us to home-made Chicago-deep dish pizza and it was just as good…dare I say better…than the times I’d visited and eaten “authentic” Chicago deep dish. I finally requested the recipe from them and made this delicious pizza for my own family. A couple of tweaks later and I’ve ended up with an awesome recipe that will be made many a Friday-night pizza night around our house.
What Makes Deep Dish Special?
One of the things that makes deep dish pizza special is the lamination process the dough goes through. After mixing up a very soft dough (with a little cornmeal in it–yum!), it is left to rise. During that rise, butter is softened and once the dough has risen, the dough is rolled out and spread with a thin layer of butter. Then rolled up again, portioned into two balls and left to rise again in the refrigerator. This layer of dough with butter is what laminates the dough and provides a delicious buttery crust that forms the base of deep dish pizza.
Deep dish is also special in the way that it is layered and baked. Cheese is placed on the bottom of the dough, followed by toppings and then the sauce. The pizza is baked in a special deep dish pan (or cake pan if you are a home baker) and it really is the perfect pizza “pie.”
Even though I can’t travel to Chicago right now for a delicious slice of deep dish, I love that I can make my own right in the comfort of my own home! This pizza is a little bit of a labor of love, but it is also straightforward enough that anyone can make it. I hope your family loves it as much as we do and I’ve got my fingers crossed for another visit to the Windy City when we can travel again.
Chicago Deep Dish PIzza
Yield: 2, 9-inch deep dish pizzas
Time: 50 minute mix/prep/assemble (including making sauce), 1 ½ hour first rise, 2-24 hour second rise, 25 minute bake
- 1 ¼ cup warm water (10 ounces)
- ¾ Tablespoon yeast (or 1 2 ¼ teaspoon packet)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cornmeal (2 ½ ounces)
- 3 ¼ cups flour (about 15.5 ounces)
- ¼ cup softened butter (save for after the first rise)
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 2-4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 8-10 slices havarti cheese (optional)
- Parmesan (optional)
- Any additional topping you want ie: pepperoni, ham and pineapple, fresh veggies
Mix Dough/First Rise
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand) mix together the warm water, yeast and sugar. Add the room temperature melted butter and salt.
- Add a cup of flour and the cornmeal. Using the dough hook (or your hands), add the rest of the flour a cup at a time until the dough comes together. Reserve the last ¼ cup of flour and use as needed. The dough will be a little bit sticky. Watch to make sure it clears the sides of the bowl and then knead the dough for 5 minutes in a stand mixer or about 10 minutes by hand. Add the extra ¼ cup of flour as needed.
- Once the dough is kneaded, add a drop of oil (neutral oil is great) to a bowl. Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl or container and turn the dough around so the dough is lightly covered in oil. Cover the bowl and let rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
- During the first rise is the perfect time to make the pizza sauce.
Make the Sauce
- For the sauce: In a saucepan add 2 Tablespoons butter, 1 small chopped onion, and 4 cloves of garlic (whole is fine). Saute over medium-low heat for about 5-10 minutes until onion and garlic are caramelized and tender.
- Once tender, pour the sauteed mixture in a blender (or food processor). Open a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and add about half a cup of the crushed tomatoes to the blender with the garlic and onion mixture. Blend together until smooth.
- Add this mixture back to the saucepan. Mix in the rest of the crushed tomatoes, salt, oregano, red pepper flakes and sugar. Simmer for about 30 minutes over low heat. Transfer the sauce to a container and keep in the fridge until ready to use on your pizza.
Laminating the Dough
- After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on the counter and roll into a 12 by 15 inch rectangle. Spread the reserved softened butter all over the dough in a thin layer, as if you were making cinnamon rolls.
- Roll the dough up (like a cinnamon roll) until you have one long 15 inch “rope.” Cut the “rope” in half and shape into two separate balls (this recipe makes 2 pizzas).
- Put each ball of dough in its own bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put the bowls of covered dough in the fridge and let rise for 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. This extended rise will give the butter time to solidify back in the fridge (lamination process) which gives the crust a crispy, buttery flavor.
Assemble and Bake
- After the dough has risen and when you are ready to make the pizzas, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If your oven cooks cool, set your oven to 425 degrees.
- Get two 9 inch cake pans ready. It is possible to use a smaller cake pan. If you use a smaller size, put a sheet pan under the cake pan in the oven to catch any spills.
- Pull the first ball of dough out of the fridge and set it in the center of your cake pan.
- Working from the middle to the edges, press the dough to the edges and up the sides of the pan in an even layer. Initially it may take a little bit of work with the cold dough but as it warms up a bit, it should become soft and workable.
- Layer the bottom of the pizza with cheese. We like putting slices of havarti cheese on the bottom, followed by a cup of mozzarella cheese. You can use whatever cheese you prefer.
- Next put your favorite toppings on top of the cheese ie: pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, olives, etc…
- Spoon half of the sauce on top of the first pizza. Brush the top of the crust with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle parmesan cheese if desired.
- Repeat the process with the second pizza.
- Bake the pizzas for 25-28 minutes until bubbly.
- Let the pizzas rest for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan and slicing to serve. Enjoy!
Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂