You started a great thread. I guess your Pizza passion is contagious!
So, from me after last night's Pizza night - I have some pics and some observations from a Stuffed Pie newbie. I figure that there's learning to be gained for mistakes as well as the sucesses I've read about here. Don't get me wrong, while my Pizza #2 wasn't without a problem or two, it was pretty darn good! And I learned yet more how to improve it next time.
I suppose as a preface to the pics, I should mention that my pizza was sort of my own invention, something I just wanted to do, not exactly what they serve at Gino's or Giordano's. Before trying to make my own lately, I had been ordering mail order deep dish pies from Gino's for a while. I'd buy two types - the sausage and cheese pie and the spinach pie. While I liked them pretty well, I had two issues. The crust was 100% cornmeal it seemed, sort of like a preformed bowl. Too thick, too hard, not good, we all felt. Not what I remember from Gino's East when we'd go there in 1970's (yes, it's been a while since I moved!). Besides the mail order crust, I also really wanted to know what would happen if I "merged" the pies into a spinach/sausage combo. They didn't offer it by mail order, thus my efforts last night at a double-decker, stuffed spinach (below) and sausage pizza up above. I was partially inspired by loowaters' pie pictures, where he floats the sausage on top of the crust to crisp it up. But I messed up and buried the sausage becuse the 6-in-1 sauce looked so great I put on more after the sausage layer was loaded. That was one of probably four mistakes I made. It made my sausage and tomato sauce layer up top a bit soupy (but still good).
My other mistakes were:
1) I like spinach, so put on a TON of filling (used DKM's recipe for that). I used 5 bunches of fresh spinach in the filling. Thus I think I should have increased the bake time by 10 minutes. I cooked it for 15 minutes w/o sauce on the bottom rack at 450 in order to make sure the top layer didn't come out doughy, then another 28 minutes with the sausage/sauce layer. It wasn't enough and the cheese didn't get hot and melty enough. I suppose if I knew what internal temp to shoot for I could have probed it with a thermometer;
2) For the sauce, I accidentally read TBSP in one of Buzz's notes when he wrote TSP. So, I put double the amount of sugar in the sauce, and it was a bit sweet for my tastes. I got thrown off by the capital letters. That one sure won't happen again;
3) I tried to pull the crust up to the rim of the pan all along the rim once I pinched the top layer of dough on, but didn't do a good enough job on that. The result was a couple of low spots where the copious sauce ran over the crust. That caused a soggy spot as well as some brown burnt tasting areas (you can see a couple of dark streaks on the side crust, a problem area). It was an isolated problem, and not a huge deal, especially when I figured out to bake some leftover pie for breakfast. Adding some more baketime on the leftovers makse the pie taste WAY better than it did for dinner last night. Also, Buzz's crust formulation REALLY kicked in when I did this. It was crunchy, crispy, flakey, everythingy this time! Just great! I guess I'll just treat this pie as a partially baked mail order pie. Rebaking it for 15' worked great!
Naturally, my next pies will have some changes:
First of all, I wonder if these 6-in-1's even need ANY sugar for the sauce. I may just skip the sugar altogether in the sauce next time. They are the sweetest reddest tomatoe product I have ever seen. Cool stuff!
Secondly, I will not bury the sausage with sauce again. I want that part crispy (I did brown them before adding to the pizza, just to dump any grease (it was pretty lean good quality stuff and there really wasn't any. I'll definitely buy the same sausage next time (form Lunardi's Market in LG, CA);
Lastly, I am buying two 10" pans. I get it now. Turns out my kids just ate the upper deck off the pie and left the stuffed part bare of sauce and sausage, so I had to eat their leftovers. I was stuffed ever more than the pizza! Next time I'll make them a pepperoni, sausage, bell pepper and onion combo in one pan, and maybe my double decker over-stuffed spinach pie for wifey and me in the other pan.
OK, I'll try to post some pics now. Let's see if that part works. Rats, I tried, and it doesn't work. I took some good pics too. But the max file size I can attach is 512KB, and my camera must have two or three megapixels, so the .jpg photo files I saved are way too big. Any tips on how I can upload my pics?
Wow i cant believe my thread has skyrocketed into being very popular. I just made those pizza's with a lot of passion, and it paid off, you can tell by looking at the pictures.