Family Advent Calendar : Make Deep Dish Pizza and Watch a Festive Movie


Tonight, it’s a party! We’re going to make our famous Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizzas and settle down to watch a festive film or two. I really want to cheese it up this year, so I’m rooting for White Christmas with a side of Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. Though, I might be persuaded to watch Santa Claus Conquers the Martians one more time. No matter what, later tonight, I want to finish watching Rare Exports – this absolutely crazy cool Christmas Horror movie [with a kid-hero] from Finland! 

Here’s a reprint of our recipe for our Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizzas, which we first introduced in our amazing, Intergalactic March Break of 2015 – now in recipe card form.

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizzas

Our homemade tribute to Chicago, where two kids fell in love...Makes 2 pizzas in 9-in spring-form or 9x2-in circular cake pans.
Author: Roseanne Carrara, The Lunchbox Season



  • 2 9- in spring-form or 9×2-in cake pans


  • 1 1/3 c warm water [95-105 degrees]
  • 1 [.25 oz] packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 1/3 all-purpose flour + a bit to season the pans
  • 1/2 c cornmeal or semolina [we use cornmeal] + a bit to season the pans
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil [corn oil]
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter melted and cooled [or more oil]
  • olive oil to coat the bowl
  • For the deluxe more elaborate crust
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter room temperature


  • [enough for two pizzas and then some]
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • [optional] 2-6 anchovies in oil from a tin
  • [optional] .5 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-3 tsp grated garlic [chopped in oil is fine]
  • 1/4 c red wine or water
  • 1 28- oz can crushed tomatoes or 1 28-0z diced tomatoes drained and blitzed in food processor
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • [optional] 1-2 tbs chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • spices to taste: dried basil oregano, parsley, fennel seed, etc.


  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese grated. [At least 2-3 cups for each pizza]
  • .5 c parmesean cheese for on top of the sauce
  • Toppings to taste such as pepperoni green olive, hot salami, ham, prosciutto, blue cheese, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, capers, oil - whatever you fancy...


  • a sauceless pizza with pepperoni and half green olive
  • and a saucy pizza with hot salami prosciotto, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, blue cheese, capers, and green olives



  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl, combine the 1 1/3 c warm water and the 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  • With a small spoon, stir gently to combine.
  • Sprinkle the package of yeast over top, stir gently for just a moment with the spoon, and allow to proof for about 5 minutes.
  • Attach the dough hook to the mixer.
  • Turn the mixer on low [or use a spatula and mix by hand].
  • To the wet ingredients, add 1 1/3 cup of the flour, the 1/2 c corn meal, and the 1 teaspoon of salt and combine.
  • Add the 1/4 c oil and the 1/4 c cooled melted butter until combined and smooth.
  • Gradually add the remaining 2 c of flour until the dough comes together but is sticky.
  • Remove from the bowl and knead gently to form a ball.
  • Coat a large bowl with oil.
  • Place the dough in the bowl and rotate to coat all sides.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, dark place until doubled in size. [about 1 hour]
  • Prepare your sauce [or open up a can!], shred your cheese [or open up a sac], and ready your fillings.
  • If you’re in a rush, skip this next part…and divide risen dough into two equal halves or into the portions you would like to serve your guests.


  • After the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and punch it down.
  • Roll out flat into a large round or square, the size of a cookie sheet.
  • Slather with the 1/3 cup of softened butter.
  • Roll dough into a spiral as you would a cinnamon roll.
  • Slice dough in halves or in the portions you would like to serve to your guests.
  • Gently form each spiral into a ball.
  • Replace in the oiled bowl and cover once again.
  • Let rise on the counter for at least 45 minutes as you prepare you pizza ingredients.


  • In a sauce-pan, heat the 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter.
  • Add the small, diced onion and cook until just beginning to brown.
  • Add the [optional] 2-6 anchovies and stir until disintegrated.
  • Add the 1-3 teaspoons garlic and the 1/2-teaspoon pepper flakes and cook for just a minute. [Do not let the garlic get brown.]
  • Add a few splashes of wine or water to deglaze.
  • Add the 28-oz can crushed tomatoes to the pan.
  • Add the 1 teaspoon of sugar, stir, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • If you find the sauce is not thick enough, add a bit of tomato paste and simmer for 5-10 more minutes.
  • Add a few tablespoons of chopped fresh basil and stir just before adding to the pizza.


  • Heat oven to 450.
  • Brush pizza pans with olive oil or rub with butter.
  • If desired, sprinkle the bottom of each pan with a bit of flour and cornmeal
  • One pizza at a time: Roll dough into a twelve-inch circle [for 9x 2 or 3 in cake or spring-form pans].[For ten inch pans, roll to a 13-in circle. For smaller pans, roll to 12 inches and then use a pizza wheel to cut the dough such that you have the diameter of your pan +3 inches for the sides.
  • Reserve the remaining dough for breadsticks or mini pizzas. I’ve used a large biscuit cutter to make a lovely hors d’oeuvre pizza or side.]
  • Press the circlet into the pan.
  • If you really need to, trim overhang from the tops of the pan. [We don’t bother.]
  • Brush the dough with olive oil.
  • Repeat with other pizza crust[s]
  • Place the grated cheese on the crust [about 2 cups each pie], reserving a bit for on top of your toppings.
  • Place your toppings on top of the cheese.
  • Add the small bit of reserved mozzarella to the toppings.
  • Ladle about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sauce on the top of the pizza toppings on each pie.
  • If desired, sprinkle about 1/4 cup parmesean cheese on the top of the sauce.
  • Lower the temperature of the oven to 425.
  • Bake the pizzas for about 15 minutes.[While the pizza was baking, we cut mozzarella slices with a small, star-shaped cookie cutter for garnish.]
  • Cover pizzas with foil.
  • Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until crust is brown and pizza is cooked through.
  • If desired, about 3-5 minutes before you pull the pizza out of the oven for good, remove foil and top with additional garnish toppisn like pepperoni or salami bits. [If crust is super-brown, replace foil].
  • Remove pizza from the oven. [At this point, we topped with our mozzarella stars for fun.]
  • Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.


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