Pepperoni Pan Pizza
Chicago-style pan pizza eschews a thin, crisp, sparsely topped crust in favor of a thick, tender crust loaded with toppings. However, the unique crust requires unique dough.
Why This Recipe Works
Pan pizza (often called deep-dish pizza) is named for the pan in which the dough is risen and cooked. This type of pizza is known for an irresistible, buttery crust that’s crispy on the bottom and chewy in the middle. We set out to develop a pizza that was better than take-out, where the crust shares equal billing with the toppings and each is full of flavor—not grease.
To make our dough, we used a few tricks we learned from baking. Classic pizza dough contains flour, yeast, water, and olive oil—but never milk. However, we knew that many tender yeast breads are made with milk and we decided to give it a try. The crust was tender, with just the right chew. Whole milk works fine, but the dough made with skim milk rose better and baked up especially soft and light. We used all-purpose flour because it yielded softer baked goods than recipes using bread flour. Sugar is another usual choice for pizza dough, but tasters thought it improved flavor and we knew that it would give the yeast a nice jump-start.
To deliver our pizzas to the table in record time, we used a warm, turned-off oven to help the dough rise faster. After just thirty minutes, we had dough that was ready to shape. We quickly learned that overworked dough tears or snaps back like a rubber band, which led us to develop a hybrid method. We used a rolling pin for the first part of the process and then stretched the dough over the tops of our knuckles—gently. Our final step was to microwave the pepperoni between sheets of paper towels before layering them on the pizza. It keeps the grease off of the pizza and gives us crisp, brightly colored, and relatively grease-free pepperoni worthy of our perfect pan crust.