Monday, April 11, 2011

Vegan Deep Dish Pizza vs. Pan Pizza

As a non-vegan kid, I mainly ate meat under duress, but pizza?  Bring it!  Generally it was a take-out pie from the local pizzeria, but for a treat we'd go to Pizza Hut.  For those who might not remember, Pizza Hut used to be an actual restaurant 'round these parts, not just a take-out alternative on par with Domino's.  Sure, it was the kind of restaurant with the foggy, plastic, can't-tell-if-they're-clean soda cups, but whoo hoo: soda and pizza!  There was something about those unhealthy pan pizzas that allowed me to eat more than one would think humanly possible my fair share.

While (pre-Daiya) I've missed pizza, in general, as a vegan (sorry, those cheeseless pies just don't cut it), I've especially missed the pan pizza of my memories.  To recreate?  Daiya to the rescue again.

Rather than my standard and now confirmed favorite pizza dough recipe from My Bread, I chose to use the Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza (p. 58) dough recipe from American Vegan Kitchen because it's specifically intended for use in a cast iron pan, what I thought was the simple secret behind decoding the pan pizza mystery.  The dough immediately proved itself to be more pliable and to possess more stay-puttedness than the elastic dough of the My Bread recipe and I was thinking I was on the right track.  Unfortunately, what I failed to compute was that "Chicago-style deep dish pizza" does not equal Long Island-style pan pizza.  But I digress.

Using different flour and technique from the My Bread recipe, the AVK dough came together quickly and, even though I have an aversion to kneading, the five minutes wasn't all that bad.  It had about the same rise time as the no-knead My Bread recipe, but was much easier to work with.  I piled on homemade tomato-basil sauce, Daiya, Daiya, and more Daiya, sauteed peppers & onions, a generous sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes, and set it to bake...

The result was astoundingly beautiful in a way that only a freshly-baked pizza can be; but, as I mentioned earlier, it would seem that this girl from Long Island does not know that Chicago deep dish has more of a crumbly, pastry-type dough than the chewy, perfect, New York crust she's used to.  This isn't bad, per se, but surprising when you are expecting a familiar bite and chew.  So, I'd say that the result was good, but not spectacular...for my Northeastern tastebuds anway.

Next time I'll give my standard dough a whirl in the old cast iron and see what happens, but in the meantime I'm still working towards solving the riddle of the Pizza Hut pan pizza.


  1. "The result was astoundingly beautiful in a way that only freshly-baked pizza can be".

    We could not agree more. This is one beautiful deep dish pizza, thanks so much for blogging about our products. We look forward to more of your creations in the future!

    Shnane Liem
    Daiya Foods

  2. Abby wow!
    As you may know, I love to cook but have never tried a pizza. You make it seem so easy. Soon, I'm going to make a Abby Bean pie!

  3. you openly admit to liking Pizza Hut as a meat eating child? Poser.

  4. That is the exact crust my Native Midwesterner misses. I love it when it is almost biscuit like, though I definitely am a fan of the cracker thin NYC style crust as well.

    And Daiya is definitely in my opinion the superior vegan cheese in both flavor and meltability (did I just create a word?)

  5. Keep 'em coming, Bess. I'll add "meltability" to "veganity" and we'll start our own dictionary!

    P.S. I like a cross between thin & sicilian thickness. You know, in case you're going to bake me a pie. IN CASE ANYONE IS GOING TO BAKE ME A PIE.

  6. Anonymous,
    I'd eat Pizza Hut today if it was vegan: veggie toppings only. But I assure you that once I knew the *truth* no more animal products passed through these lips (including sweet potato tempura, which is always non-vegan unless otherwise indicated).

  7. Sweet potato tempura not vegan?? This is breaking news to me, though as far as I can remember, I have only had it at vegan restaurants since going vegan.

  8. You've given new meaning to the term, "deep dish pizza." I don't think your pizza could get much deeper without turning into a cake. I'm sure the smell of it baking matched the beauty of the finished pie.

  9. Andrea, it was most definitely like a cake! Thanks for your kind words.

    Bess, tempura is only vegan at vegan restaurants. At "regular" restaurants the batter includes egg.

  10. What a weird anonymous comment you got up there...

    Allow me to be the first Chicago vegan to tell you that you have done us proud (Chicago and vegans)!

    I think you are right about the crust differences, the type you describe is very typical of Chicago. However, I think you should come up with a hybrid crust!

    My favorite deep dish pizza was always Giordano's, and it is the flaky buttery crust that made it. A solid inch and a half of cheese sits directly on top of the crust and it is finished off by the sauce and toppings. Chicago is the only place I've ever seen the cheese go in first (which is very common, but not the rule). My goodness what I wouldn't give for them to make me a vegan pie. Alas, I have been unable to find a vegan deep dish pizza in the city that is so famous for the dairy counterpart. I better get to work on making my own!

  11. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for calling out the Chicago deep dish practice of putting the sauce on top of the cheese; I'm surprised no one else noticed! I've read about it...but I just couldn't do it. A hybrid is definitely in order. I'd love to visit Chicago; I had no idea there was a vegan pizza shortage :-(


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