Stuffed Pizza

This recipe is a project, no doubt about it. Homemade crust, slowly simmered sauce, even homemade sausage — all contribute to the pizza's wonderful marriage of flavors and textures. When time is a challenge, substitute store-bought bulk sausage, and 2 cups of your favorite pizza or spaghetti sauce from a jar. But please don't substitute a ready-made crust for this delightfully different homemade crust, featuring many of the same elements as Chicago deep-dish crust — with the addition of golden semolina.

Our thanks to Jess, a frequent visitor to our blog, for passing this recipe along.

Prep
30 mins
Bake
25 to 30 mins
Total
2 hrs 40 mins
Yield
two 9" deep-dish double-crust pizzas
Stuffed Pizza

Instructions

  1. To make the crust: Combine the dry ingredients and the oils and butter, mixing until crumbs form. Then add the lower amount of water, and mix and knead — by hand, stand mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make an elastic, fairly stiff dough, adding more water if necessary; you'll use less in the summer, or if you substitute all-purpose flour for the semolina; and more in the winter, or if you're in a dry climate.

  2. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl; cover, and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour. For best flavor, after its initial 1-hour rise, refrigerate the dough for several hours, or for up to 24 hours. You can use the crust after its first 1-hour rise, but its flavor will improve with the longer, slower rise offered by refrigeration.

  3. To make the sausage: Combine all the ingredients. Refrigerate overnight, for best flavor.

  4. To make the sauce: Sauté the coarsely grated onion in the butter until it's beginning to color.

  5. Add the crushed garlic, and sauté for about 30 seconds.

  6. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, sugar, and salt, and simmer gently for up to 1 hour, to concentrate the flavors.

  7. To assemble the pizza: Divide the dough into two pieces. One should be about three-quarters of the dough; the other, one-quarter. If you have a scale, one piece should weigh about 1020g; the other, about 370g.

  8. Divide each piece of dough in half again. Butter the bottom and sides of two 9" x 2"-deep round cake pans, then drizzle olive oil in the bottom of each.

  9. Stretch, then roll one of the larger pieces of dough into a round large enough (about 15" to 16") to line the bottom and sides of one pan, with some overhang. Do the same with one of the smaller pieces of dough, rolling it to about 9" to 10". Cover the pieces of dough, and go away for 15 minutes. This will relax the dough's gluten, allowing you to handle it without it shrinking.

  10. Once the first two pieces of dough are rolled and resting, repeat with the other two pieces, covering them until you're ready to use them.

  11. After 15 minutes, place one of the larger pieces of dough in the pan, pressing it gently into the corners; you'll have some overhang.

  12. Spread half the uncooked sausage over the crust, gently patting it flat.

  13. Top with half the sliced mozzarella. Spread with half the spinach, or any additional filling of your choice.

  14. Place the smaller piece of dough atop the filling. Fold over the overhanging edges of dough, and squeeze/crimp to seal. Poke holes all over the top crust, to allow steam to escape.

  15. Repeat with the remaining dough and ingredients, making another 9" round pizza.

  16. Allow the pizzas to rest/rise, covered, for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile place one oven rack at the bottom of the oven and one rack towards the top. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

  17. Just before baking, top the pizzas with the sauce, and sprinkle with the grated cheese.

  18. Bake the pizzas on the bottom rack until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. If the top is not browning as much as you'd like it to, move the pizzas to the top rack at the 20-minute mark.

  19. Remove the pizzas from the oven, and allow them to set for about 15 minutes. Loosen their edges, and gently turn them out of the pan onto a rack to cool. To do this, place a round cooling rack atop one pan, and turn the whole thing over. Lift off the pan, place a rack on the bottom of the pizza, and turn the whole thing over again, so the pizza is now right side up.

  20. Serve warm, with a fork. Use a pair of scissors or baker's bench knife to cut wedges.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Want to substitute all-purpose flour for semolina? Go for it; reduce the water by a tablespoon or two. You can also substitute 7 cups (868g) pizza flour blend for both the all-purpose and semolina flours, increasing the water to 1 3/4 cups to 2 cups (397g to 454g).

  • Don't care for sausage or spinach? Stuff the pizza with whatever you like. Just make sure the ingredients are cooked, so that they don't exude juice into the crust. Four cups of sliced white button mushrooms, sautéed and cooled, are a nice addition; as is a combination of canned artichoke hearts and sliced black olives, both well-drained.
  • Prefer to make one large pizza instead of two smaller ones? Prepare the dough and a 14" deep-dish pizza pan as instructed. When you're ready to assemble the pizza, divide the dough into two pieces. One should be about two-thirds of the dough and the other about one-third. Place the larger piece of dough into the pan and stretch it to cover the bottom and sides, letting it rest for 15 minutes if it resists stretching. Roll and stretch the smaller piece of dough until it's about 14" to 15" in diameter and proceed with the assembly instructions as written. Bake the single larger pizza for 20 minutes on the bottom rack before transferring it to the top rack to bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer.