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Jan 26, 2011 12:12 PM

How to make Chicago-style crust

I have been trying to perfect a Chicago style stuffed pizza. But I am unsure what it is that makes the crust so buttery and dense yet somehow sweet. It's not a regular pizza dough recipe. I have tried using butter but that does not seem to be the key, either.
Anyone know?

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    This website will help you tremendously with your pizza questions. Lots of experiments where users share their recipes, methods, etc. Invaluable resource.

    1. There is a recipe for Chicago Pizza in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Cook's Illustrated. It uses butter and sugar.

      9 Replies
      1. re: cnobrien

        both of these are great suggestions! thanks! the recipes in the link seem to use more oil and a combo of vegetable and olive oil which makes sense. But Cook's Illustrated does a lot of work on testing out i will try to find that recipe, if i can. thanks

          1. re: cnobrien

            that would be so great. i don't have a subscription and it seems their recipes are behind a paywall

            1. re: rosep

              Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza - 2 9" pizzas

              3 1/4 cups unbleached 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 water, room temperature
              3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
              4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
              1 teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons olive oil

              Mix first 5 ingredients in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook on low speed until combined. Add water and melted butter and mix on low for 1-2 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl (4-5 mins).

              Coat a large bowl with 1 tsp olive oil and transfer dough to bowl, turning once to oil top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp until nearly doubled in size - 45 to 60 mins.

              Adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat to 425. Turn dough out onto dry surface and roll into a 15x12 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over surface of dough, leaving 1/2 inch border along edges. Starting at short end, roll dough into a tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten into a 18x4 inch rectangle. Cut in half crosswise. Fold each half into thirds (like folding a letter). Pinch seams together to form a ball. Return balls to oiled bowl, cover tightly and let rise in the fridge until doubled (40 to 50 mins.)

              Coat 2 9" round cake pans with 2 tbl olive oil each. Transfer 1 dough ball to dry surface and roll into a 13" circle - 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to pan, lightly pressing dough into corners and 1" up sides. Repeat with 2nd dough ball.

              Sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella cheese over surface of dough, then 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce over the cheese, then 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over sauce. Bake 20 to 30 mins until crust is golden brown. Let rest 10 mins before slicing.

              1. re: cnobrien

                I assure you that cornmeal isn't used.

          2. re: rosep

            Here is a thread talking about the crust. Some didn't like the CI version.


          3. re: cnobrien

            I've made the CI recipe several times. It doesn't replicate a true Lou Malnati's or Geno's East deep dish pizza, but I think it comes close. The recipe does use butter and also corn meal. It makes two pies, and when we've frozen the second pie and then reheated it later on, it is much better than the freshly made first pie. Maybe the crust dries out from being cooked twice?

            1. re: saintp

              Interesting. Well, I am going to try it out tomorrow. I will let you all know how it goes. I am assuming that the flour doesn't matter. One would not necessarily want to use bread flour since that seems to be better for Neopolitan style

            2. FWIW the recipe I have been using for years has a good dose of corn meal and a lot of olive oil in it. From a cookbook I bought at O'Hare.

              1. The original comment has been removed
                1. Confident it is the corn meal that makes many Chicago-style deep dish pizzas seem dense yet sweet. Can add a little extra sugar to the dough, but be careful a little goes a long way. Yeast also can add a sweat unique taste, possibly you may like added 'extra yeast'. Possibly the extra olive oil in the dough is also a factor. While any recipe is just a guide... I make my Chicago Deep Dish in a 12" Cast Iron Frying Pan in the oven starting with this Lidia Bastianich 'Lidia's Italy in America' Food Network recipe: I do not use an electric mixer and find the recipe comes together fine by hand. Cook it for 45-60 minutes covered with foil then about 20+ minutes without foil at the end until browns as you like it. Mine usually turn out about 2" thick depending on toppings.

                  This is a great deep dish recipe that you can make all kinds of variations on. Get ideas of nice pizza topping combinations from your favorite local pizza parlor. For variation beyond standard red pizza sauce combinations try:

                  1. Taco pizza. Use cumin-spiced taco ground beef, tomato, cheese, olives, mushrooms, green onion, taco sauce, salsa, ... I like mine with red pizza sauce and possibly a smear of re-fried beans thinned with taco sauce/salsa for added Mexican Latino flavor until spread. Some skip the read sauce.

                  2. BBQ Meat Pizza. BBQ sauce instead of red pizza sauce. Great with BBQ chicken, beef, and/or pork. I like red onion, green onion, olives, mushrooms, and cheese on a BBQ pizza.

                  3. Bacon Ranch Chicken Pizza. Grill or even better cold smoke some boneless skinless chicken breasts without overheating or will be tough when re-cook on pizza. Sauce with ranch instead of red sauce (best home made). Add the meat. I like green onion, red onion, fresh diced tomato, bacon bits, and cheese.

                  For all of my pizza normal or in the three above, I usually top with fresh rounds of tomato. Sprinkled with Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and a pinch of my custom red pepper grind mix of 11 chili varieties from around the globe enhancing flavor and opening taste buds on different parts of the tongue.

                  Deep Dish Pizza is a unique thing have only found done well in the restaurants of Chicago and in a few rare homes. Many places around the country have something they call pan pizza even Chicago-pan-pizza, but not the same, not as thick or sweet without the cornmeal, sugar, with EVOO. Expect it to take an hour or longer after you order for it to cook if you decide to visit a deep dish pizza establishment in Chicago - which is very similar with the time required to prepare the recipe linked above at by Lidia Bastianich. Her recipe linked above will allow you to enjoy true Chicago-style deep dish pan pizza at home. Give it a try. Perfect your own versions and possibly this recipe can be something fun to do with others that becomes part of your tradition and legacy.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: smaki

                    We are talking about pizza puffs, not deep dish pizza!

                    1. re: CourtLyn

                      No mention of "puffs' in the OP. Possibly the thread title and OP are miss-leading.

                      It talks about Chicago-style pizza, so I shared my favorite recipe with tips and variations. Even with good intentions sometimes things do not go as expect.

                      If left maybe others (confused by the thread title and OP) will find benefit in my post - could add value to this thread in an "unexpected way". Will Flag and be in contact with CHOW moderators to gain their guidance - any removal will be done by them.

                      1. re: smaki

                        My initial question was definitely about Chicago-style pizza, not puffs!
                        Also, anyone try this recipe for Chicago pizza?

                        It looks pretty authentic

                        1. re: smaki

                          Oops!! I'm wrong! I was following a different thread about pizza puffs...don't know how I got on this one "/ I'm sorry!!

                          Any who,

                          I've mastered the art of making the best pizza in the world :) I will get my recipe together and share!!

                          1. re: CourtLyn

                            This is how I make mine and it's a WINNER! I was born and raised in chicago, but now live in Texas. The only way to get good pizza is to have it mailed to you frozen OR learn how to make it yourself...which I did. Lol. I make it often for family get togethers and everyone LOVES it and they get so excited when they know I'm making it.

                            1 c of warm water
                            1 package of yeast
                            1tbsp sugar
                            Combine these ingredients and let you're til the yeast starts to bubble then add-

                            1/3 c corn oil
                            1 tbsp Olive oil
                            1.5 tsp salt (or more if you are a salt person, lol)
                            1/4 c of corn meal
                            1 tsp cream of tartar
                            Combine then add

                            3-3.5 cups of flour.

                            Knead the dough then you roll it out into a large rectangle, facing you horizontally. Taken a softened stick of butter and smear some around the entire crust. Fold the top side down to the middle (horizontally, and butter that side. Take the bottom half and fold over the top half, butter it! Then fold one side to the middle, smear that with butter. Take the other side and fold that over the side you just buttered and then butter that piece.(the goal here is to create layers, the butter will make it nice and flakey) Then pinch all the seams closed, then use about 2 tbsp of olive oil amd conver the new ball of dough. Put in a bowl to rise. After it has risen some, place in the fridge and it will continue to rise. Once you're ready to make your pizza...that it out and roll it to fit your pan. I have 2 10 inch pans so this is enough for me to make 2 pizzas! You will love this recipe!