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Every Sunday I make two pizza doughs. The first I bake that night, and top with intention: sausage and onions, margherita or pepperoni and cheese. The second I squirrel away into my fridge, to sit and wait until an evening when I am underprepared for dinner. Perhaps it's because the yeast has lead a longer and fuller life, or because it is proud to be the base of a more unique pizza, but my second ball of dough always bakes up to be crispier and more flavorful than the first.
Deep dish pizza is an ideal receptacle for odds and ends. Ingredients that would have spoiled before being used somehow come together in perfect harmony on the top of a pizza: a couple handfuls of mozzarella, an ounce of chevre, the tail-end of red onion, sliced paper thin, the stems of rainbow chard, boiled until tender, and a few pieces of proscuitto, fried and crispy.
Just as my second ball of dough has been patient in waiting for me, I prepare it with patience, taking great care neither to smother nor to rush it. I dress it modestly with three tablespoons of red sauce and I let the sauce just barely peek through the other toppings. With the exception of onions, or possibly a few leaves of spinach or herbs, I never use raw toppings. Raw vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant that have a high water content will sweat and make pizza soggy. I do distribute one topping with reckless abandon and that ingredient is cheese. There's really no reason to have a crust on a deep dish pizza and letting cheese overflow down the sides of the crust results in something quite magical. As the menu reads at my all-time favorite deep dish pizza restaurant, Pequod's, "The overflowing cheese emerges from the oven as a halo of caramelized crust."
Deep Dish Pizza Dough
makes 2 10"-12" pizzas
3 1/3 cups flour*
1 1/3 cups warm water*
1 packet active dry yeast
2T melted salted butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1t kosher salt
1oz goat cheese at room temp (optional)
* That is, 500g flour and 300g water. You can use whatever kind of glutinous flour you like. I use 1 1/2 cups bread flour for its the high gluten content, 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour for its flavor and 1/3 cup cornmeal or semolina, which helps the crust get crispy.
Bloom yeast in water. Mix all ingredients by hand until a ball forms. If you have a stand mixer, use dough hook to knead dough for 7-10 minutes. If not, knead until you have a baker's windowpane.
Roll dough in oil and place it in a bowl. Let it sit in a warm place, covered in plastic wrap for one hour. It should grow like crazy! Cut dough into two pieces, storing one in an air tight container in your fridge. Preheat oven to as hot as it will possibly go, with the rack as low down as it will possibly go. Lightly grease a 10"-12" cast iron skillet with butter. Use your knuckles to press dough evenly into pan and give the crust a coat of butter as well. Let dough rest for 15 minutes. Top as desired and bake for 15-20 minutes. When pizza is done, let rest another 10-15 minutes before cutting.
To use second batch: Remove dough from fridge two hours before cooking, or simply sit it on the counter in the morning and it will be ready that night.
If, for some reason, be it the dough or the oven or Fate working against you, your pizza does not get crispy on the bottom, do not fret. Call it "skillet bread" and enjoy.
03/03/13 Update: An amazing pizza topping combination is as follows- one yellow onion, caramelized with a splash of balsamic vinegar, mozzarella, roasted sweet potato, crispy chicken skin, red pepper flakes and parsley. Cheap as dirt! Check out my Instagram to see a different pizza every week.