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The Chicago Deep Dish

Let’s take a deep dive into this deep dish: the Chicago Pizza. Recognizable by its round shape, one can almost mistake this pizza for a quiche. Featuring its thick buttery and flaky crust, it’s unthinkable not to try this pizza at least.

What makes it a Chicago pizza?
The Chicago pizza is round because of the pan it’s baked in, and its thick yet flaky crust is what distinguishes it from any other pizza. This pizza has either one or two layers of dough. When it has a single layer, which forms the crust of the pizza, it is called deep dish pizza. If there are two layers of dough, one for the crust and one as an inner layer, then it is called a stuffed deep dish pizza. 

This extraordinary pizza has more cheese and sauce than you can imagine. It all starts with a layer of dough, which will be the bottom and crust. This type of dough is relatively dry and consists of flour, water, butter, oil, salt, yeast, and sugar. After some fermentation, the dough is rolled out just thick enough to hold all the ingredients and placed in a round baking pan greased with margarine or butter. 

The dough of this pizza is mixed differently than with most other pizza styles. With most pizzas, the oil is added at the end so that the dough can be fully hydrated with water first, but with the Chicago deep dish you want a dough that’s not too smooth, so the oil is added in a much earlier stage. It’s very important not to over-knead the dough. The uneven texture of the dough will cause the crust of the pizza to be almost biscuit-like.  

But the most exciting part about this pizza is perhaps the cheese. The dough is generously topped with cheese, and by generously I mean loads of cheese, which then gets topped with the best tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. The pizza is baked at 425°F / 220°C for 30-40 minutes. 

The creation of the first deep-dish pizza

The Chicago pizza, as its name reveals, traces back to Chicago, USA in 1943. The creation of the first deep-dish pizza is most commonly credited to Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, the founders of Pizzeria Uno, who envisioned a pizza that was more of a meal than just a snack. This led to the development of a unique style of pizza with a thick crust and a deep, pie-like structure that allowed for generous amounts of cheese, sauce, and toppings. Now, years later, many variations of the original deep-dish pizza have emerged, including the stuffed pizza, featuring an additional layer of dough over the toppings covered with sauce, resembling a pie more than a pizza. 

Oven
Originally, these pizzas would have been baked in gas ovens, which were common in commercial kitchens due to their reliability and ability to maintain a steady temperature over the longer baking period required for deep-dish pizzas. Nowadays, both gas and electric ovens are used.

Chicago-style pizzas are baked at a lower temperature compared to thin-crust pizzas, typically between 350°F to 425°F (about 175°C to 220°C).

Methods

Dough lamination
When laminating Chicago pizza dough, it is more about enhancing the dough’s handling characteristics and structural integrity rather than flavor enhancement, which is a slightly different approach from other laminated doughs. Besides creating a honeycomb-like structure, butter is typically added to impart flavor and tenderness. 

Tools to make the Chicago Pizza Style

Diving into the art of Chicago-style pizza-making at home can be a deliciously rewarding endeavour. To ensure your culinary creations mirror the deep, hearty essence of this iconic dish, having the right tools at your disposal is important. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Saucepan
  • Mixing bowl
  • Kitchen scale
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rolling pin
  • 9-inch (22cm) baking pan
  • Pastry brush
  • Spatula
  • Oven
  • Knife or pizza cutter

Now that you’ve got a taste of what makes Chicago-style pizza so special and know what tools you’ll need to make it, roll up your sleeves and start baking. Let’s dive in, click here if you want make pizza dough.

By Safia Abali

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