The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pan Pizza Redemption!

Shutzie27's picture

Pan Pizza Redemption!

Back in 2014, for the third time, I attempted to make pan pizza for guest. For the third time, everything seemed to be going perfectly and yet the crust came out far too hard. You can read about that here

After that, I literally hung up my pizza peel (though I took it off the kitchen wall for free-form boules and loaves). 

Recently, however, my neighbors insisted on me attempting again. So, I did, and was actually successful. I did change some things, but I'm not sure which ones made the difference, with the exception of the first two I'll list, which are pretty obvious. 

1.) We bought our first -- and hopefully forever -- home two years ago and it came with a not-awesome (but actually calibrated) oven. My apartment oven needed some serious bread-pan Jenga'ing to make loaves come out evenly. It ran so hot I had to put an inverted cookie sheet over the heating coil to keep the heat in check. 

2.) I give all baker demi-gods on this site permission to laugh and poke fun at me for this: I used to think you had to use a pizza stone no matter what. So I'd put the stone under the pan pizza pan, which I think (correct me if I'm wrong) multiplied the heat. This time, the pizza stone was used only for serving. 

3.) Instead of the sprinkle method, I did not sift the flour at all and just straight scooped it. Obviously, this means I used more flour. 

4.) At the same time, this time I didn't blind bake. When the crust felt far too dry, I remembered the author of the cookbook lived in Chicago, where there is humidity, and I live in Arizona, where there is none. I've actually cut out as much as a full cup of flour on some loaves with good results. So this time, I dipped my hands in ice water and "wet kneaded" until it felt right

5.) I parbaked for only 3 minutes, not four, on the bottom rack and pricked way more holes in the dough. 

6.) I left it to the bread gods. I didn't oven peek, I didn't even let myself turn on the light and look through the window. I focused on making appetizer veggies and the salad with the stoic determination of a Spartan heading into battle. Nothing, but nothing, was going to make me check this pizza. 

7.) I pre-sauteed the toppings (turkey Italian sausage, green peppers, onions and mushrooms). This is not a step I would do again, as I did end up with excess liquid. The previous fails were not topping-related, so I don't think mushroom moisture is an issue for me. 

Whatever the difference was, I do believe I have, at last, made peace with pizza. I shall attempt this art in other forms. Stuffed, thin crust, the possibilities are endless! 





dabrownman's picture

a horrible way to live:-)  It is its own food group along with, ice cream. Chocolate, Pie, BBQ, Beer wine and spirits ......Pizza is a a gift from the gods for sure.  I smoke the onions, sausage and mushrooms.  You should try putting a little oil on the mushrooms, season them and then bake them at 375 F for 30 minutes or so.  No more moisture and they taste way better too.  Your pizza looks grand!

Happy pizza making

Shutzie27's picture

That idea for the mushrooms is genius. I may do that the next time I need mushrooms for my slow cooker bolognese, too. And I love your food groups, though I would add taco and grilled, lol! 

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken


Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza made in 9” metal pan.

I recommend when removing the dough from the rising bowl, reshape it into a ball and roll it out with a stockinged rolling pin or flatten it with your fingers and hands to the size to fit the pan including going up the sides but not over.  If it goes over, cut that off and smooth it out with your fingers.  You must NOT have the dough come up over the edge of the pan or you will never be able to get the spatula between the edge of the pan and the dough to remove it from the pan when it comes out of the oven.  Do not feel you need to use all the dough.  It might be too much dough.  You can cut off some.



9” metal deep dish pizza pan oiled with vegetable oil

Kitchen Aid smaller stand mixer with dough hook in place

Pyrex 2 cup measuring cup

Dry cup assorted measuring cups

Measuring spoons, assorted sizes

Plastic bench scrapper not needed if dough easily come out of Kitchen Aid bowl onto bread board

Bread board to knead dough into a ball

Nesting bowl to raise the dough, oil it slightly with olive or vegetable oil

Plastic wrap

Non-stick 10” skillet NOT CAST IRON because of the acid from the tomato leaches out iron

Spatter proof screen for the non-stick pan to prevent spatter onto your stove top

Cutting board

Paring knife

Spatula to use in non-stick pan

Wire cheese slicerBox grater or similar to grate the hard Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Semi-luna deep dish pizza cutting knife or just a really long knife to cut the pizza



3/4    cup spring water (no iodine or fluoride)

2       tsp Red Star Quick Rise Instant Yeast

pinch of sugar into the 3/4 cup water

2       tbsp vegetable oil for the dough

2 1/2 tsp table sugar for the dough

1       tsp rounded kosher salt for the dough

1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour for the dough (never tried bread dough or “OO” pizza flour?)

2       tbsp Quaker yellow corn meal for the dough

2       tbsp semolina flour for the dough, I use Bob’s Red Mill



olive oil into 10 inch sauté pan, enough to salute’ the onions and garlic

1/3     of a large yellow onion chopped small size for sautéing 

3        large garlic cloves minced

1/2     of an Arbol MEDIUM size red dry chili pepper torn or cut into bits

1        handful of fresh basil leaves cut into pieces

1/2      tsp oregano, dry

4        dash of marjoram 

4        dash of generic Italian seasoning

1/4     tsp fennel seed crushed in palm of hand to remove chaff and expose seed, no mortar & pestle

28      oz can Cento San Marzano whole tomatoes with juice, crush tomatoes with fingers 

1        tbsp white sugar



8 ounces sweet Italian sausage made into chunks or little balls and sautéed, removed from pan and drained. Grease discarded.  Pan cleaned.  I place the hot sautéed sausage into a plate with paper towel to degrease them. 

Pepperoni amount is to your taste, lots is good.

Mozzarella slices or shredded, enough to cover the pizza crust bottom to your taste, generally, lots. 

Parmigiano-Reggiano fresh grated for the topping of the pizza to be placed on top ONLY after removal from the baking oven then sprinkled over the sauce, it will melt into the topping.  I grind mine on a firm metal grater.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING THE CRUST (the crust should be placed into the 9” deep dish oiled pan just before you are planning on adding the cheese, sausage, pepperoni and sauce.

Set up your tilt head stand mixer with the bowl in place and the dough hook handy.  Heat the water to 110 degrees in a Pyrex measuring cup with a pinch of sugar.  Measure the yeast into the bottom of the stand mixer bowl.  When the water is at the correct temperature pour it into the bowl with the dissolved sugar, stir well and cover with a towel.  It will proof over the time it takes to mix the other dry ingredients together.

       While the yeast is proofing,in another bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, salt and sugar then blend with a spatula or spoon.  By now, you will see bubbles form in the yeast mixture. You then pour the oil into the yeast and water and you mix this well.  Next, pour the dry ingredients into the liquids and mix with the dough hook at the second speed.  Knead it for 6 minutes.  You may have to add 1-4 tablespoons of flour to get the correct consistency or you may not need to add extra flour.  Remove the dough from the bowl onto the bread board, using your bench scraper , if needed, then knead it into a ball. Place it, top side down into the oiled bottom of the nesting bowl then flip it over, and cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm rising oven until double. Remove the bowl and let it sit at room temp as you make the sauce. Using oil, NOT olive oil, oil the pizza pan all over the bottom and up the sides very well. After the dough has risen remove it from the bowl and reshape it into ball.  Then using your fingers or a rolling pin work it into a circle large enough to fit the pizza pan and up the sides.  Put it into the pan and conform it to the pan evenly.  If you think it’s too thick on the sides and at the place where the bottom meets the side then cut off some dough and discard it.



(At one of the best Chicago deep dish pizza restaurants, ‘Lou Malnati’s’, they have their own chunky California tomatoes processed for them in a can and they just pour that over their pizza.  I like to cook a sauce with seasonings which constitute my recipe for my pizza sauce).


Place about 2 tbsp. olive oil in a 10” nonstick sauté pan and GENTLY sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes then add the seasonings including the fresh basil, except for the sugar and continue to sauté until the herbs and seeds are nicely cooked, about 3-4 minutes.  When these are sautéing, pour in the can of tomato.  I pour in the liquid of the whole canned tomatoes and I hand squeeze the tomatoes into chunks as I add them to the sauté pan, and then add the sugar.  Cook this uncovered allowing it to boil down until it becomes a good thick pizza sauce, not at all runny, it may take an hour.  Do not cover, use a screen so moisture may evaporate but not spatter your stove top.


ASSEMBLY  (Start your oven to 450-degrees)

Well, here there are differences of opinion as to the order of the ingredient placement.  There is no discussion that the tomato sauce goes on top and the Parmigiano-Reggiano goes on top when the pizza comes out of the oven.  BUT, here is the controversy;  and I don’t know if it makes a difference?  I put the slabs of cheese onto the bottom of the crust, then the sausage atop that and the pepperoni atop the sausage then the tomato sauce over that, then the parmesan on top of the sauce just as you remove the pizza from the oven..



Place onto top rack of 450-degree oven for 40 minutes then go to convection 450 for 10 minutes, if you don’t have convection just leave the pizza in the regular 450-degree oven 10 minutes more.  Remove from oven and place on cooling cake rack, sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the hot tomato sauce. It will melt.  Rest the pizza in the pan for 15 minutes.  Then using a very long metal spatula work around the edge to free it up.  Then go under the pizza and pry some away from the bottom of the pan.  Some cooks have the skill to tilt the pan to a plate and using the spatula just take it out.  I can’t do that.  I use a big broad pancake flipper to get under the pizza and quickly tilt the pan onto the plate and then scoop it out onto the plate.  Cut and serve with a Caesar salad and nice red wine.


Serves 4 generous wedges, or more normally 8 slices, which is usually enough when served with a large Italian salad, garlic toast, wine, dessert of olive oil orange juice cake or spumoni ice cream and Amaretti almond cookies.