It all started innocently enough, when I started thinking about pizza. I know I know. It happens to me a lot lately. This is probably one of the last pizza-like posts I will be doing for a while.
Anyway, I started thinking about pizza as a tart. Isn’t that sort of what it is? Then I thought about deep dish. It’s a very American version of pizza and it’s really delicious. The bread and cheese factor gets amped up with a super thick crust, almost like focaccia, but not really. Almost like a bread and cheese explosion with butter and garlic and a tender, flaky almost pastry-like crust topped with anything you can imagine, but usually tomatoes or tomato sauce of some sort . The first one I made came out like this.
It was really good, but it wasn’t perfect. It was my first try. The dough wasn’t light enough for me and there was far too much processed cheese. Sure the crust was tender and delicious but there weren’t enough bursts of flavor or air pockets to satiate my thirst for deep dish knowledge. The classic style was good, don’t get me wrong. But then I did something…
I made a quick garlic compound butter and used some rosemary infused olive oil that I had just hanging out on my countertop. It was begging to be used, but of course you can use whatever flavored or plain oil you prefer. To solve the issue of heaviness in the crust, I decided to add cultured buttermilk to the mix to sort of soften and condition the dough and the baking soda neutralizes the lactic acid in the buttermilk. All in all, it’s a hybrid between yeast and quick bread, also the combination of the acidic buttermilk and the baking soda act as a slight leavening agent, which never hurts bread in my opinion. The flavor of the buttermilk adds a curious but gentle tang, which intrigues the tongue in a way that compliments the savory butter and garlic. The sugar balances the whole thing out a bit as well as activates the yeast, obviously. The dough rises fairly quickly, as opposed to days of fermenting in the refrigerator. This took about 4 or 5 hours of rise time. Time savers are good for me these days, though for standard or thin crust pizza, I recommend the long cold fermentation process with very little fat in the dough. This crust is light and airy and crumbly and tender and flaky and yes….delicious.
Then I used fresh mozzarella and fresh tomatoes instead of the traditional and more wintery version with crushed tomatoes and regular old processed mozzarella.
It was the perfect thing to celebrate the end of summer. Beautifully light and buttery savory bread with fresh and delicious quality cheese, two of my favorite things, obviously. Then topped with a little classical summer.
Makes one nine and a half inch deep dish caprese style pizza as well as two additional pizza dough balls for future use.
- 1 7g (1/4 ounce) package of quick-rise yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 cups warm water
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil plus more for coating.
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 +1 cups flour
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons butter
- rosemary, garlic or basil infused high quality olive oil
- 4- 1/2 inch thick slices of fresh mozzarella
- 1 tomato, sliced
- fine sea salt
- black pepper
- In large bowl stir together yeast, sugar and water. Let it sit for ten minutes to activate yeast. Stir in buttermilk and oil then sift in the six cups of flour, the baking soda and the salt.
- Stir until shaggy, then cover with plastic and let it rise on the counter at room temperature for one hour.
- Next knead dough on floured surface for ten minutes. Place in well oiled bowl, cover again and put it in refrigerator for one hour. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in thirds.
- Roll two thirds into balls and place in oiled freezer bags for future use. Note: can be frozen for up to 2 months or refrigerated for up to 2 days.
- Knead other third of dough and form into a ball. Let the dough sit, covered, on oiled surface to come to room temperature.
- Once dough is at room temperature, preheat oven to 450 degrees and liberally butter a nine and a half inch spring form cake pan. Place dough in the cake pan and spread using your hands until it covers the bottom. Work the dough up the edges of the cake pan to desired height, trying to get the dough thinner in the corners, between bottom and side of the cake pan.
- Stir together butter and garlic and spread onto the dough. Drizzle flavored olive oil over the butter. Set aside.
- Slice fresh tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and place into preheated oven for 5-6 minutes. Remove and set aside on cooling rack with paper towels underneath, to cool. The excess water from the tomatoes will drip onto the towels.
- Place cake pan with pizza dough into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, top with fresh mozzarella, season with salt and pepper and another drizzle of flavored oil, and place back into oven until golden and brown which should take about 10 additional minutes. Remove from oven and top with cooled roasted tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, sprinkle with fine sea salt and black pepper. Finish with a drizzle of high quality flavored olive oil.