Sweet Home Chicago III

Well, I pulled a mighy fine pie out of the oven last night for the Superbowl. Not quite star quality, but mighty fine nonetheless. The crust, as I’d hoped, was dense (without being too dense), rich (without being too rich), flavorful and flaky. All the qualities one would look for in a biscuit, or as it happens in a Gino’s-type pizza crust. The only thing it was missing was some of the thickness I remember from Gino’s (I spread the dough out pretty thin) and some of the corn flavor and grittness of the original. I’ll have to swap out more flour for corn meal when I try it again this coming Friday.

I’m now completely convinced the Biscuit Method is the way to go for a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza crust. To approximate the original, the recipe needs fat, but not liquid fat like the prototype recipe called for. Yes, both oil and solid fat will enrich a dough. But only solid fat creates flakiness. Why? When you “cut” (i.e. rub) solid fat into flour you’re not actually distributing the fat evenly (like you would be if you stirred oil in). You’re creating little fat blobs of various sizes, blobs that sit in the dough in solid form, taking up space. When those blobs heat up in the oven they melt, leaving empty space behind. The empty space gets filled with steam, expands, and creates flakiness.

That’s how a biscuit works, and how its much drier cousin the pie crust works. Hmm…pizza, pie. Coincidence? I think not!

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