The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

DIY Pizza hut.. a journey into the dark, crispy underbelly of the flat cheesy thing

BayCook's picture

DIY Pizza hut.. a journey into the dark, crispy underbelly of the flat cheesy thing

To begin with, let me say that I'm relatively new at baking.   I worked in commercial food venues for a long time, then left that for a string of factory jobs.  These days, I am self-employed and work out of my home.  ( I do high-end embroidery and graphic design for many clients, but food has always been my first hobby.  

And now, open the curtain upon the wonderful world of baking! 

When I started researching baking, it was with the simple motive that my family could barely afford bread at the local supermarket.  I needed to find ways to not just make ends meet, but bend them like pretzels and make them taste good too.   So, I've kind of gone back to my foodservice roots, making the simple, wholesome fare that... errr, generations of college students relied on... like deep fried everything, gourmet burgers, and delicious pizza.

You need certain tools to create the right taste, whether it is an outdoor grill, good cooking oil, or hmm, a peel, a baking "stone", and some specialty cutlery. 

Let's just say I'm oppurtunistic when it comes to finding the right tools.  If it can be cannabalized for my latest obsession, I'll strip it down and use it in a heartbeat.  My wife just rolls her eyes and sighs when I get into something, but she also knows the end result will be good.

Heres a picture of my peel, made from an aluminum cookie sheet and a 2" dowel piece.  On it is another dowel piece, that I use for a roller, and my nifty little mezzaluna-onna-stick that I made from an alaskan snow knife ("Ulu") and another 1/2" dowel.  I put a 15" ruler next to it for scale.

And here is the finished product, with crust showing...

Recipe to follow, in the next post.




JIP's picture

You need to work on making a better camera.  Seriously though, you know it was not necesarry to go cutting up the cookie sheet as all you needed to do was turn it over and use the back of it for a makeshift peel and then you could still use the cookie sheet as a well, cookie sheet.

BayCook's picture

in fact, these sheets are commericially available as "flat baking sheets". They come with 3 sides flat and one raised, like the one pictured in this link :

Mine was even predrilled with a center hole for hanging.  All I had to do was make the handle. I have to say, it works great as a peel.  Note that it is not needed for this particular recipe, but it sure is handy for a Neapolitan-style pie.  I'm still working on that one.


Anyway, heres the recipe for pizza I used in the picture above.  I'm experimenting with different methods all the time, but this one I can pass on with confidence that it will work for you.

You might call this "Deep Dish Pizza", but it should not be confused with Chicago-style deep dish, which actually has a layer of sauce atop the cheese.

This makes 3-4 pizzas, and is sized that way because it uses one 7g packet of yeast.  You can certainly subsitute a homegrown starter- just replace some flour and water as needed in the recipe.

1 1/3 cup Warm water (105F)
1/4 cup Non-fat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 cups Flour
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 pk. Dry yeast
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil (for dough)
4-5 ounces Vegetable oil (approx 1.5 oz. per pan)
Butter flavored Pam - or brushed on butter


1. Dough:

Put yeast, sugar, salt, and dry milk in a large (2 qt.) bowl. Add water and stir to mix well. Allow to sit for two minutes. Add oil and stir again. Add flour and stir until dough forms and flour is absorbed. Turn out on to a flat surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Divide dough into 3-4 balls. (At this point, you can freeze unneeded dough in balls - use lightly oiled containers.) 

      In three cast iron skillets* (I use a 12", a 10" and a 8"), put a 1/16" layer of oil in each making sure it is spread evenly. This may seem like a lot of oil, but it gives the bottom of the crust that golden crunch

    Using a roller, roll out each dough ball to about a 1/4" thick 9" circle. Place in cake pans. Spray the outer edge of dough with Pam or brush with butter. Cover with a plate. Place in warm area and allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  It should rise to about 1- 1.5" high, but that is just a guideline.  Once it is done rising, you can stack the pans (put a plate on top) in the fridge until dinner time- just make sure to cover them so they don't dry out.

2. Topping and Baking

    When you are ready to make dinner (T-40), preheat the oven to 475°, and take the pans out of the fridge to warm up to room temp. 

    I use spaghetti sauce from ALDI called Mama Cozzi's - great stuff, but that's my preference.  Marinara is great too.  Spread the sauce to 1" from the edge, not too much of it, then put down a 1:2 mix of whole-milk mozzarella** (extremely wet stuff, don't be scared, it tastes great) and skim mozzarella, with some parmesan and garlic powder to taste, to a 1/2" depth.  Again, amount of cheese is a preference thing.  I then top mine with pepperoni, sausage or vegetables. If vegetables, reserve some cheese to spread on top of them to prevent drying out.  Sprinkle parmesan lightly over everything

    Bake at 475° for about 15-19 minutes, in the center of the oven.  You may find that the smaller the pizza, the quicker it cooks.  Keep an eye on them after 13 minutes.  Not hard to do if you have a hungry family- the tough part is getting people out of the way!

    If you like slightly burned, crunchy pepperoni, then use the broiler for a few minutes during the end of baking.

Allow to cool slightly before cutting.


* if you don't have some cast iron skillets, you can use cake pans or even pyrex pie dishes.  Never put cold glass in the oven!  And seriously, cast iron cookware is worth every penny- it lasts forever and is actually good for you.

**if you can't find whole-milk mozzarella (packaged in balls), try another soft cheese like Havarti. 

JIP's picture

I worked for PH a LONG time ago and working there as long as I did I was cured of their "deep fried" pizza.  Being originally a New Yorker I personally always liked and have made a more thin curst style of pizza.  If you want to experiment more with a good pizza formula you might try here:

mrfrost's picture

Dozens and dozens of pizza formulas, forums, dough calculators, etc.

Everything pizza. Here:

BayCook's picture

thanks for the links.  As mentioned, I am currently attempting Varasano's Neapolitian-style pizza, which is close to the ideal NY streetcorner pizza.  I will start a new thread about that, which may be of interest (if only for laff value) to you, since I'm curtailed by circumstance to non-ideal substitutions for recommended tools and ingredients.  On the other hand, it took Jeff years and years before he was satisfied with his procedure, and he would be the first to admit there are many ways to get good results.

I would like to dedicate this thread to the PH style... I know it's not everyone's absolute favorite, or even, strictly speaking, baking as opposed to frying, but I like it, my family likes it, and I thought it a recipe worth sharing and discussing.


montanagrandma's picture

PH Deep Dish used to be my favorite for a long time because of the crunchy bottom crust. I have been eating the thin for a while now. Never met a pizza I didn't like. Thanks for sharing