With this Deep-Dish Pizza we were making, the dough is actually very straightforward to prepare with just flour, yeast, a dash of sugar, salt, water and a bit of oil as the ingredients . However, what made this dough a little different was the inclusion of cornmeal to try and recreate texture without the need of excessive amounts of oil later on. You could probably use your food processor, just like our other favorite dough, but I didn't feel like cleaning the machine up and just went with my hands.
When the dough had risen sufficiently, we punched it down, gave it a quick respite to relax and then rolled it out to a size a bit larger than the baking dish we were using. Now, normally with deep-dish pizza, one would oil the pan the dough was going to be heading in generously, giving it flavor and a crackly crispness to the outside. As this is a lighter recipe, the recipe calls for using that cornmeal in the crust to give you a little crunch, then only used cooking spray on the baking dish to keep things moving. You could still do that, but what we ended up doing was drizzling in a rough tablespoon of oil into the dish and smeared it around - this way we aimed to get the best of both worlds, yet not add too many extra calories.
Once we fitted the dough snugly in the dish, paying careful attention to ensure the dough was plenty high up on the sides, we seasoned the bottom with dried basil and oregano, then scattered with plenty of shredded mozzarella cheese. No sauce first? Nope, not on this type of pizza - you want most of the cheese underneath because of the length of time it takes to bake the crust through. This way you'll end up with a gooey layer of cheese underneath that slowly oozes as you slice into it. Then, on top of that mess of cheese, we scattered over chunky cubes of chicken sausage.
While we set that aside to rest and rise a bit, we chopped up a can of drained whole tomatoes and mixed into them fresh basil and oregano to echo what we put on top of the dough. This mixture is then left to continue draining (we don't want a soggy top!) while the oven was busy preheating and we softened the red bell peppers we were going to add. The original recipe called for mushrooms, but once again, Jeff saw me try and hide them in the shopping buggy and snatched them out when I wasn't looking. Sigh. See what I have to put up with? If you don't have that problem, sauté up a couple cups of sliced mushrooms first, then add the peppers and let them go. A couple other suggestions - if you have a hankerin' for green bell peppers (neither of us care for them), swap half of the red bells for those. If chicken sausages don't strike your fancy, then go with good ol' pepperoni instead - or, just leave them off for a veggie-friendly pizza!
Just to add some pizazz, after spooning the herbed tomato and cooked vegetables over the top, a little more mozzarella sprinkle over never hurt anyone, so on it went! This took just short of half an hour to completely cook the crust through and warm those toppings up. Slice it in the pan if you like, but one can make a more dramatic presentation by moving the whole shebang out onto a cutting board - don't worry, it just slides right out! The golden crust was hefty enough to hold up to all those ingredients on top, but we didn't find it too bread-y, except maybe the corners that ended up pretty beefy. The bottom of the crust retained some crunch as advertised (helped by the oil we added I would guess), but do realize it won't be as lush and rich as one gets from their local pizza joint.
We sliced this into six liberal squares, but really, eight probably would have been more appropriate as we ended up pretty stuffed! I think the only thing I would have done differently would be to mix in a bit of crushed red pepper into the tomatoes for a little kick.