The only thing I can add is that while having the pizza LOOK good, the one trait to worry about the most is whether or not it TASTES good.
I've been a bit absent from the forums for a few weeks as I've been trying out thin style, NY style, and a bunch of other styles of pizza. This has just resulted in me needing to spend more time in the gym as I've put on a bit of weight thanks to this hobby. :p
Anyway, right now I'm trying some variations on the "standard" deep-dish Chicago pizza just to see if I can come up with my own style of crust that is a Chicago style at heart, but with some modifications to suit my taste. Now that I know that I can repeat the standard recipes and have it come out exactly the same each time, I feel that I can go ahead and start experimenting.
The other week, I got two 12"x2" AMCO deep-dish pans. They have been seasoned and look AMAZING! Went from a bright, shiny silver color to a rich, deep, heat absorbing dark black color.
The recipe I am using is based on vcb's "Holy Grail" recipe. The weights are as follows:
Stop & Shop Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: 200 g.
Hodgson's Mill Semolina Pasta Flour: 50 g.
105 Degree Tap Water: 125 g.
Generic Corn Oil: 2 Tbsp.
Orville Reddenbacher's Buttery Popcorn Oil: 2 Tbsp.
Active Dry Yeast: 1/2 Tsp.
McCormack Garlic Salt: 1/4 Tsp.
Table Sugar: 1/4 Tsp.
I started out by putting the Yeast, Sugar, Garlic Salt, and water in the mixing bowl, mixing it well, and letting it sit for about 10 minutes until I could see some good bubbling action start. When the bubbling started, I added the oil and mixed it in well. The semolina and AP flour were mixed and sifted beforehand to ensure they were combined properly. I then added about 1/4 of the total flour mix to the liquid and combined it well until it looked like a smooth pancake batter. At that point, I went and added in the rest of the flour while mixing. ALL of the mixing was done with a simple wooden spoon and my hands as I don't have an electric mixer. I mixed until everything was combined which was only about 30 seconds or so. At that point, I put my hands in there and combined everything into a smooth mass. This was a total mixing/kneading time of only around 1.5 to 2 minutes. While some gluten is wanted, I wanted to minimize this as much as possible.
Right now, this dough is sitting in the fridge in an oiled bowl and will sit there overnight. I always like to let my doughs sit in the fridge to rise for a full 24 hours so that it's easier to work with the next day. Based upon the recipe I used, I don't foresee any issues working with this dough.
Tomorrow, when I go and cook this, I will do so by first buttering up the pan it will be cooked in. And I will actually butter the bottom and sides of the inside of the pan to ensure good browning and infusion of more butter flavor, and ease of release. (Though with how well seasoned the pan is, I don't see any issues forthcoming). I will take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. At that point, I'll go and roll it out using a rolling pin into an even, flat circular shape. Yes, I know that most Chicago deep-dishes press out the dough, but to get a nice even thickness the rolling out of the dough works great. The dough sheet will then be placed into the center of the pan and flattened completely on the bottom to remove any air holes, and even out the amount rising up the sides. Slices of part-skim mozzarella cheese will be layered on the bottom, followed by a layer of mild Italian Sausage, and a good amount of pepperoni. I'm then going to put on the sauce, press in some more pepperoni on top to give some char to it, and sprinkle a mix of freshly grated, authentic, Parmesan and Romano cheeses. Will cook on a preheated baking stone at the bottom of my oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes until I see that the crust has browned and the top is bubbling a bit.
For the sauce, I'm planning on doing a partially cooked sauce. America's Test Kitchen put together a recipe for sauce that I think tastes great and is what I plan to use. The difference is, they cook the full sauce while I'm only going to cook some of the ingredients. The recipe is:
Two Tbsp of unsalted butter melted in a skillet.
1/4 cup of grated onions.
1/4 tsp of dried oregano.
2 medium cloves of minced garlic.
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes.
1/4 tsp of sugar
2 Tbsp of chopped fresh basil.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Start out by melting the butter in a skillet and adding in the dried oregano and grated onions. Cook until the onions just start to brown. At this point, add in the garlic and cook until it blooms and you can smell it. At this point, take the skillet off of the heat and let it come to room temperature. Once at room temp, add in the drained tomatoes and mix well. Add the sugar and very finely chopped basil, as well as the black pepper. Let this sit for about 30 minutes in order to let the flavors meld. Taste, and add salt and more pepper if needed. This sauce will be used on the pizza, and due to the amount of time it will spend in the oven, it's important to make sure the basil is finely chopped so that it can better absorb into the sauce and prevent burning of any large pieces. By letting the sauce sit for 30 minutes, I've found that the basil will absorb a good amount of water from the sauce and not burn if this is done.
I know that this recipe isn't a "clone" of any well-known Chicago Deep-Dish Pizzeria, but I like the garlic flavor that will be present throughout the crust, as well as the evenness of everything. I also know that garlic will help relax the dough and make it easier to form, so that will help out as well. I'll hopefully be able to take pictures of the process this time as I know that's something I've failed to do in my past efforts. Heh. Stomach's rumbling just thinking about it.