Nov 25, 2015

Inside Little Caesars Test Kitchen: Making a Deep! Deep! Dish Pizza

Along with trying a few exclusive one-of-a-kind pizzas during a visit to Little Caesars headquarters in Detroit, I also got to try my hand at making my own Deep! Deep! Dish Pizza.

I'll go through the steps, just in case you're curious or just want to try making something similar at home or something.

The pizza starts with a dough made from sugar, salt, yeast, flour, soybean oil, and water. Little Caesars is the last of the Big Four pizza chains (the other three are Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Papa John's) that still makes their dough at each restaurants. The other chains either ship frozen or fresh (refrigerated) dough from a distribution center to each location. This means each Little Caesars' restaurants has a mixer like this one:

After the dough comes out of the mixer, it has to be formed into small balls to proof. You have to pull and fold the dough a little (but not too much or you risk tearing it and ruining its gluten structure) before you shape it into a ball. My dough ball wasn't quite as round as when the pros do it but it was serviceable I think (probably because I spent ten times as much time on it...)...

Once the dough was proofed, I gently stretched it out into a roughly rectangular shape and placed it in the pizza pan, making sure to press it out at the corners to cover most of the bottom of the pan. The pan contained two separate compartments for two pizzas and was greased with an olive oil mixture (I was told the mixture helps make the crust crunchy but they wouldn't tell me what else was in it). The dough was then allowed to proof again.

After the second proofing, the Deep! Deep! Dish Pizzas are ready to be topped. I ladled a small amount of sauce, starting in the center and working toward the edges. I was told to be careful not to have the sauce spill to the edge as it would burn and stick during baking. If you're wondering what would happen if you put on too much sauce, I asked and was told the dough wouldn't cook through.

While the sauce was to be used sparingly, the cheese was distributed in a heaping cup for each compartment. Little Caesars is the last of the Big Four pizza chains to use 100% cheese to top their pizzas (it's a blend of Muenster and mozzarella cheeses), while the other chain's have switched to pizza cheese that's "made from 100% mozzarella" rather than just actual "100% mozzarella." I was told to sprinkle the cheese generously starting from the edge rather than from the middle like the sauce. The cheese needs to cover the edges and spill over the sides to develop the crispy edges that's a hallmark of Detroit-style pizza.

After that, I was free to top the pizzas however I wished. On one side, I went with the fairly standard bacon and sausage and on the other, I put cherry tomato bruschetta, ham, onions, and just a sprinkle of feta. It turned out pretty well right?

Okay, maybe I needed a little more cheese at the edges...

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