Ugh- First Attempt at Pizza Not So Good!

Yuck! I just completed my first effort at deep dish pizza, and it was not edible. I need any and all help, please! I was attempting to make "Chicago Deep Dish with Calabrese and Fennel Sausages" on pg. 78 of the PB.
I followed the recipe exactly, only substituting local brands of tomatoes. I ordered the Heckers flour for the crust.
I kept the dough in the fridge for 48 hours and it rolled out well and was pleasantly easy to work with. I layered and cooked the remaining ingredients as the recipe called for.
1. The dough either did not rise or got gummy from the cheese on top. The last two photos show what the crust looked like after it was cooked and the toppings were scraped away.
2. The crust got way too dark/crispy on the top and bottoms. There was very little height to the finished dough at all. The pizza looked really good (light brown, melty) after the first 15 mins, but the 2nd 12 minutes really overcooked it (?)
3. The sauce turned out too thick and heavy. I know I most likely drained too much fluid from the canned tomatoes.
Without a good crust, the sausages, cheese, and sauce just made a gooey mess that really couldn't be eaten on top of the almost burnt crust.
I'm sorry this post is so long- I just really want to be able to make decent pizza at home! I have a small electric oven and only 1 pizza stone. I did use a seasoned black steel deep dish pan.
Thanks in advance for any and all help!

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Sherry H.
posted almost 4 years ago

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That pizza looks pretty good to me!

Some thoughts:
Was the dough at room temperature when you rolled it out?

It looks like the dough wasn't rolled evenly, and it's much thicker in the corner--before you start placing the ingredients in over the dough, the dough should be the same thickness throughout.

Your oven might have some hot spots, but the color of the crust looks good to me, it's just a little thick. You might need to adjust the oven temperature down a little (to reduce the browning, though I think the color looks good) and bake the pizza a little longer to bake out the gum line.

You shouldn't drain the crushed tomatoes, and the sauce can also get a little thick if it's heated for too long.

Did you use the part skim mozzarella?

Good luck--the deep dish isn't easy, but it looks like you've made an excellent start!


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Adam Sachs
posted almost 4 years ago

Thanks Adam for the encouragement and advice! The dough was at room temperature but I was probably working too hard to get it the right size and didn't notice the unevenness. I may also not understand what a traditional deep dish should look like, since my experience is just with PizzaHut and the like. I thought the crust would be thicker and chewy, not so hard/crisp. Thanks for including a photo, too. I had no idea what my pizza should look like when it was finished! :)

Sherry H.
posted almost 4 years ago


I am a relative new-comer to the world of home-made pizza and I am still learning myself, especially from my mistakes and others. I read your post and have some questions and thoughts.

Do you use a mixer or hand mix your dough?
Did you let the dough sit in the pan for 30 minutes?
Did you use low moisture part-skim mozzarella?
Did you bake the pizza in stages?
Did you bake with the sauce on the pizza?
Are you pre-heating the oven for at least one-hour at 500 degree F?
Did you rotate the pan 180 degrees for the second round of baking?
Are you baking on the second to bottom and top oven racks or bottom and top?

When I first attempted to make pizzas from The Pizza Bible, I did not have a mixer. It was hard work mixing by hand. It was until further reading and researching that I realized my dreams of making killer pizza were not going materialize unless I got the necessary equipment. I went to a wholesale club and got a Kitchen Aid Mixer for about half the price listed on-line. It was big choice, but only months later it has already paid for itself in terms of cost savings from not ordering pizza or eating out. Your dough looks like it rose, but it appears very dense, it is probably partially a yeast/water/temperature/gas issue.

Not using low moisture part-skim mozzarella can have a drastic effect because the additional moisture in the mozzarella is released from the cheese and absorbs into the crust. Its the exact opposite of what is supposed to happen - which is the layer of mozzarella melts and separates the drying crust from the cooking toppings and evaporating moisture. The gumminess could have been from that alone.

I would also get another baking stone, it is critical. It might seem ridiculous, or skirt-able at first, but the first time you use a dual stone method will make you into a believer. I am not sure what kind of oven you have, but it could be malfunctioning. You might want to get a oven thermometer and hang it from an oven rack to make sure it is actually reaching the correct or expected temperature.

Hopefully next time it comes out right for you.

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Matthew D.
posted almost 4 years ago

Hi Matthew, thanks for your reply!
- I couldn't find the part-skim mozzarella, so I did use the "full fat" version
- I used a KitchenAid stand mixer and I did let the dough rest in the pan 30 mins
- I used the second lowest rack in the oven on the pizza stone at 500 degrees
- I baked it 15 mins, turned the pan, and cooked an additional 12 mins. It looked great at 15 mins and totally overcooked after the additional 12 mins.
- I only put the sauce on after the pizza came out of the oven (no baking it)

Should the crust be crispy? I was thinking that the deep dish pizza had a thick crust (say 3/4 -1"). Part of my problem may be just personal preference- I really don't care for a pizza with a lot of sauce. I will cut down on that next time.

Thank you for your help! I think if I could get a good crust going, the rest would be a lot easier! Bad crust, bad pizza!

Sherry H.
posted almost 4 years ago

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