I have mentioned before (not that long ago, actually) that I used to hate pizza (well, except Totino’s pizza. I think I always liked Totino’s pizza.). I remember begging my family members for their crusts, because that was the only part of the pizza that I actually liked. What kind of weirdo kid was I? I have no idea.
I guess I was probably late elementary age when I finally decided to like pizza. I am sure that my change of heart was probably directly related to going to more sleepovers. When you go to sleepovers, liking pizza is kind of a necessity. Anyway, my main very early pizza memories are from a place called Pizza Inn that used to be in Red Bank (near the old Food Lion on Dayton Boulevard) but they closed when I was still pretty young. After that, it was always Pizza Hut-first the one in Red Bank, then the one in Soddy-Daisy after it opened (up until I was in about 4th grade, Hardee’s was the only chain restaurant in Soddy-Daisy…then we got Pizza Hut, KFC, and Little Caesar’s. Taco Bell and McDonalds didn’t come until much, much later). Pizza Hut had what seemed to me at the time a pretty awesome salad bar (iceberg lettuce, sunflower seeds, and ranch dressing. What more do you need on a salad bar?) and they had pan pizza.
I love Pizza Hut’s thin crust pizza and on the rare (and I do mean rare) occasion that we eat there, Philip and I always order thin crust. However, their pan pizza holds a special place in my heart. That sounds silly, I guess, but it really was the first pizza that I really loved. There’s just something about that thick, oily crust that I’ve never been able to replicate…until now.
I found this recipe in my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook (<–affiliate link). It’s called “deep dish pizza”. I would never presume to know what deep dish pizza is like…I’ve never been to Chicago, and if I’m being honest, I’ve never even ordered anything in a restaurant called “deep dish pizza”. Still, I decided to make it, but I didn’t have the 14-inch deep dish pizza pan that the recipe called for so I made it in 2 10-inch cake pans, and while it didn’t really seem to match the descriptions I have seen of Chicago-style deep dish pizza, it was pretty much a spot-on rendition of Pizza Hut’s pan pizza. Except maybe even better than Pizza Hut’s pan pizza.
The first time that I made this homemade pan pizza I did it in my food processor as directed in the original recipe and it was a minor disaster. I was able to salvage it by adding a whole lot more flour than the original recipe called for, and the results were delicious. The second time that I made it, I decided to forego the food processor and use my stand mixer instead. It was a good decision. The dough is much stickier than I am used to, but I just oiled my hands up and dealt with it. If, like me, you are a lover of pan pizza…make this homemade pan pizza.
This is not a quick weeknight dinner, so you may want to save it for a Saturday. Homemade pan pizza is completely worth the time!
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Yield: 4-8 servings
This recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen .
2 hrPrep Time:
25 minCook Time:
2 hr, 25 Total Time:
- 1 Medium potato (about 9 ounces-peeled & quartered)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup warm water
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 3/4 teaspoon salt (the original recipe called for table salt, but I used kosher and it worked fine!)
- 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
- 8oz grated mozzarella (I used Sorrento)
- parmesan cheese (grated)
- other toppings (as desired)
- Bring the potato and 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Cook until the potato is tender. Drain and set the potato aside to cool until you can handle it. Use a ricer to rice the potato or use the large holes of a box grater to grate the potato (this is what I did). Measure 1 1/3 cup lightly packed potatoes and discard the rest.
- While the potato is cooling, combine 1/2 cup warm water, the yeast, and 1/2 cup flour in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cover and allow to sit until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Add the remaining water and flour, the potatoes, the salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Use the paddle to mix until combined then switch to the dough hook. Knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes. Dough will still be very tacky. If dough is too loose you can add flour a tablespoon at a time, but this was enough for me to have a very soft dough that held together nonetheless. Oil another large bowl and scrape the dough into it, turning to coat completely with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place (an oven that has been preheated to 200 degrees then turned off a few minutes before works well) until doubled in size, 30 minutes to an hour.
- Oil the bottom of 2 10-once cake cans or 2 10-inch deep, oven-proof skillets (cast iron works well) with a tablespoon of olive oil. Divide the dough between the two pans. Cover and let rest for about ten minutes to relax the gluten, then carefully stretch the dough to cover the bottom of the pans and come up the sides half an inch or so. This takes some patience as the oil on the bottom of the pan will cause the dough to want to spring back. Keep working with it; it'll get there. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.
- While the dough is rising, place two baking stones in the oven, one in the upper third and one in the lower third. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- At the end of the rise, uncover the pans and place in the oven. Bake for fifteen minutes, then top each with 1/4 cup sauce or crushed tomatoes, 4 ounces grated mozzarella, grated parmesan, and other toppings as desired. Bake for another 12 minutes or until cheese and crust reach desired brownness.
- Carefully remove the pizzas from the pans using a spatula (I found that a large offset spatula worked well for me). Slice and serve.