Friday, March 7, 2008

Chicago or New York? Updated with the recipe. Updated again!

I was making pizza last night.

Usually I make Chicago style deep-dish pizza, but last night I decided to make thin-crust New York style. It came out excellent, my crust recipe can be varied for either style crust, but it got me wondering. I know some of us have discussed over on the 'e' what toppings we like on pizza, but the question is which style do you prefer? New York or Chicago style?

Me? I like both.

Crust recipe.

Basic pizza bread is a yeast dough, composed of water, yeast, flour, oil, sugar, and salt. The results depend on a large number of factors. Here's my basic recipe:

I use a Kitchen-Aid mixer, and I recommend you use a power mixer as well. Proper consistency depends on gluten development, and that takes some serious mixing.

1 cup warm water
1 tbsp of baker's yeast (I like Red Star)
1 tbsp raw sugar (white sugar works too, but you'll get better results with the raw stuff).
1 tsp of kosher salt (iodized salt will work, but it contains additional additives that may effect yeast rise and flavor)

In the mixer bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt in the water. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. Wait for the yeast to bloom, 5-10 minutes This is called proofing, and many cooks do not consider proofing necessary for modern dry yeasts. They're nuts. Yeast gets old, if it is no longer active, best you find out when the only thing you've lost is a cup of water and some sugar. Also, waiting for the yeast to bloom into a sludgy mass, gives you time to prepare the toppings. If the yeast doesn't bloom, throw the mix out, get new yeast, start over.

Once your yeast proofs, using the paddle (not the bread hook) attachment, start the mixer on low and add the following:
2 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin, of course, the greener the better)
1/4 cup potato flour (specialty/organic food isle)
1 cup GP flour (King Arthur, red winter wheat if you can get it)

At this point I like to add a few spices
2-3 tbsps Italian seasoning
2 tbsp basil (fresh chopped or dry, doesn't matter) and 1 tbsp Oregano
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp dried onion, chopped
(don't add garlic, powdered or otherwise, garlic inhibits yeast growth)

Mix on medium for 5-10 minutes, adding another 1/4 cup of flour along the way. Couple of things here: first the potato flour. Potato flour pulls moisture from the dough, giving it a crunchier outer texture and lighter interior. It's not strictly necessary, but you'll get much better results with much less effort if you use it. Potato flour is the difference between pizza dough and flat bread, just saying. Second, the long mix time at high speed. The secret to good pizza dough is gluten development, and lot's of it. You'll notice that over the 5-10 minute mix period your dough goes from a thin soup to a stringy, sticky mass. That's because beating the hell out of it in this manner activates the glutens in the flour (basically long protein chains) and pulls them into alignment. Now, some experienced cook out there is going to be appalled, he'll tell you that I'm over mixing the flour and that's going to result in tough, tough bread. Bah, ever had a good pizza in a fancy restaurant? Right, they don't know what they're talking about when it comes to simple pizza.

Once your dough becomes a stringy mass that sticks to the sides of the bowl and the beater, you're there. Stop the mixer, replace the paddle with the bread hook. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the paddle, and pull the dough into a sticky ball at the bottom of the bowl. Start the mixer on low.

New York Style: slowly add another 1/2 cup of flour

Chicago Style: slowly add another 1 cup of flour

Let the bread hook knead the dough for about 5 minutes or so.

NYS will be extremely sticky, CS will be have a more bread dough like consistency.

The rise:
I use a rising bowl, basically a huge heavy ceramic bowl. I fill it with hot water for about ten minutes to warm it, then dump it out and dry it. You can use a big mixing bowl or something similar. I do the rise inside my oven. Pre-heating it to 150F for about 2 minutes, then turning it off. Just enough to warm the oven space.

Spray the inside of the bowl with non-stick spray and add a tsp of olive oil. Coat your hands with non-stick too, while you're at it. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl with your hands, and pull it into a tight boul (a round shape, keep folding the dough inwards until it forms a tight round mass). Set it in the rising bowl, turn once to coat with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap (not a wet towel) and place in the a warm spot (in my case, the oven).

For NYS thin crust, allow to rise for 30-45 minutes, no more. Roll out on a corn meal covered peel, or hand toss, and put it on your pizza pan. Cover with a non-stick sprayed piece of plastic wrap (doesn't have to be air tight) and let rise again for 30 minutes, top, and put into a 400F oven. Cooking time varies depending on a bunch of things, but when the crust is the color you like, you're done. Lighter color = chewy foldable crust. Darker color = brittle, cruchy crust. I like mine somewhere in the middle.

For CS deep dish, allow to rise for 1 hour. Turn out on a floured surface. Knead into a tight mass for about 1 minute, flatten in your non-stick sprayed deep dish pan and allow to rise covered for 30 minutes. Carefully spread the dough into the traditional deep dish shape and allow to rise for another 30 minute. Top. Bake at 400F. You'll need to carefully lift the edge with a spatula to check for proper color and doneness.

Pizza stones - I like em, just not for cooking directly on. I've got a large square one on bottom of my oven. It's always there, because it evens out the heating. I put my pizza in a pan, either a traditional blackened steel deep dish or a light Teflon, wiffle-ball thin crust pan. The pan goes on top of the stone. This transfers the blistering heat of the stone directly to the pizza crust without the mess and hassle of moving a stone into and out of the oven. All the benefits, none of the mess and hassle.

and there you go. Have fun.
Update 2

Soggy crust. Don't like it.

Here's how to avoid it. When the pizza comes out of the oven. Allow to cool for 2 minutes. Then slide the whole pie out onto a wire rack and allow cool for another 2 minutes, this allows trapped moisture to escape. Then slide it onto the cutting board and slice. Any pieces that don't get plated immediately, put back on the rack and set on the pizza stone in the turned off oven, leave the door cracked, otherwise your pizza will be overcooked when you come back for the next slice.


  1. I love deep-dish pizza, but it's often so greasy, I don't bother.

    And what IS your crust recipe? Even with a pizza stone, my crust usually ends up soggy.

    I use baking powder in my pie crust for extra crispy, but I'm not sure that would work in pizza crust. Hmmm... I'll have to think about that...

  2. Yeah, nothing worse than soggy crust and greasy topping.

    Baking powder won't help in pizza crust, through it might make it rise faster and be more fluffy.

    Give me a couple of minutes to finish what I'm doing, Michelle, and I'll post my crust recipe and method.

  3. I like both, but because I'm diabetic, those times I splurge and have pizza, it's always New York style.

  4. No Deep Dish. Bad crust!

    Love the New York. The thinner the better.

  5. I was always a thin crust kind of guy, but since I've been making my own pizza (with crust from a farm stand) it is more deep dish. So I've gone from "Make mine thin crust," to "Pizza, yeah!"

    Put me down for both, and lots of it. And I don't have any problem with grease. :)

    Jim's crust receipe? Oh boy!

  6. Need I say it? New York. all the way.

  7. I like Dominos pizza. ;)

    Seriously though, I like a nice, thick, raised crust. Nice and yeasty.. mmmmm.

  8. Damn, Shawn beat me to it while I was talking to a colleague. I snoozed, I... losed?

  9. I snost, I lost?

    (Wanders away, mumbling incoherently.)

  10. Jim, I doubt it would be more fluffy, because I'm thinking it would do its stuff during the first rise, and then be, well, a waste.

    But I couldn't remember if there was anything in the crust to react with the baking powder.

  11. Definitely for thin crust here. I'm not that big into bread in general.

  12. I'm not that big into bread in general.

    (aghast look)

    Not. Into. Bread?

    I am incapable of comprehending this statement.

    Not into bread? Bread is the best food in the entire universe! Garlic bread! Italian bread! French bread! Pumpkin bread! English muffins!

    Bread is the prefect vehicle for butter! And for chocolate peanut butter! And for apple butter!

    Not into bread?

    (blink blink)

    Does Not Compute.

  13. Both, depends on the mood and the toppings. Beer is always good with pizza.

    What is this "Not Into Bread" of which you speak? Have you not had good bread? Good bread is a remarkably sensual experience.

    I'm going to stop now before I start to blush.

  14. I'm not that big on bread myself. Of course, you need it for samiches, but I rarely have it as a side dish the way most people do.

  15. See? Look, Nathan agrees. *points*

    Actually, Michelle's reaction is approximately what mine is when I hear of people putting sugar on rice (sugar! o.O) and eating it as if it was cereal (!!!).

  16. I don't understand you people at all. Bread is life. Life, dammit it.

    The dough recipe has been added to the original post, as requested.

  17. MWT, I like sugar on rice for breakfast. Brown sugar, not white. And butter. Hot.

    I don't eat it very often, but every once in a while I like it.

    On the other hand, this morning I had toasted homemade banana and macadamia nut bread - which I made yesterday while waiting for the pizza dough to rise. That I'm always in the mood for. :)

  18. Potato flour eh?

    I'll have to find some. I usually make a whole wheat/white crust, because I have to try everything I can to get the husband to eat more healthy.

    And I'll also try moving the pizza to a rack. I can see how that would make a difference (much like cooking cookies on a rack versus on the sheet)


  19. New Yawk pizza. I live in the DC suburbs of MD and pine for good pizza. The husband, however, likes that weird Midwestern deep dish stuff.

    As for bread -- I love bread, but I hate soft crust on bread. Give me the chewy stuff (good French or Italian bread -- I second the garlic bread idea). Michelle, if you like pumpkin bread, you should try pumpkin cranberry bread. Yummy!

  20. MWT, I like sugar on rice for breakfast. Brown sugar, not white. And butter. Hot.

    *faints dead away*

  21. Michelle, potato flour is easy to find. Usually it's in the specialty aisle - with the organic stuff.

  22. Failure to find potato flour at my regular grocery store. Saw potato starch, and many other kinds of flour (lots of buckwheat around here) but no potato flour.

    Still have one other grocery store to try, but not until after it finishes sleeting and the roads clear.

  23. Michelle, if you can't find potato flour, use a 1/2 cup of instant potato flakes. Potato flour works best, but not if you've got to trapze all over hell's half acre to find it.

  24. No potato flour at either grocery store, and I don't have potato flakes, but I found a recipe that called for cornmeal, and that turned out fantastic.

    I took your advice about putting the pizza onto a rack, and the fact that I'd used parchment paper worked out perfectly.

    Mmm... pizza!


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