I am an unapologetic diehard pizza fan. If I had to rank my comfort foods, pizza would absolutely be in the number one spot (followed by macaroni and cheese as a close second). I have such awesome memories of time spent at my grandma’s house when I was a kid, and so many of them revolve around pizza. We’d often order from the local pizza place, which cut its pizza in squares, and phone in the same order every time: “light on the sauce, extra cheese”. When we weren’t ordering pizza, my grandma was making us Boboli pizzas, usually for myself, my sister and cousin on Saturday nights while we’d watch The Golden Girls, and then stay up late and watch Star Search.
I usually prefer a thin and crispy crust, but my husband sometimes likes Sicilian-style pizza (thick crust, squares), so I’ve had it on my list to make for some time. I finally got around to it this past weekend and was pleasantly surprised and how much I enjoyed this thicker, pan-baked version.
One of the things I really love about this recipe is that you can prepare the dough up to two days in advance and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the pizza. This is perfect if, perhaps, you are planning to make the pizza on Friday, but after spending the whole day trying to soothe an infant who had two teeth making their way through his gums, you surrender any and all plans and cry uncle. Instead, we had pizza for lunch on Saturday and it was fantastic.
The thick crust has a wonderfully airy, chewy crumb, not at all dense, which is what I’m always fearful of when it comes to Sicilian-style pizza. It’s topped with a sauce very similar to the one used for Chicago-style deep dish pizza; it’s thick and packed with flavor thanks to garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Even though we usually order pepperoni pizza, I went traditional and only topped it with cheese, which was fantastic.
What’s your number one comfort food? I can’t be the only one who would choose pizza!
Make the Dough: Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, sugar and yeast on low speed until combined. With the machine running, slowly add the water and oil until a dough forms and no dry flour remains, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 10 minutes.
Add the salt to the dough and mix on medium speed until the dough forms a satiny, sticky ball that clears the sides of the bowl, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead briefly on a lightly floured counter until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape the dough into a tight ball and place in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours.
Make the Sauce: Heat the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce measures 2 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, allow to cool, and refrigerate until needed.
Make the Pizza: Place a baking stone on the upper-middle rack and preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, then coat the bottom of the pan with the olive oil.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough and gently press into a 12x9-inch rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 18x13-inch rectangle. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, fitting the dough into the corners. Spray the top of the dough with non-stick cooking spray and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough. Place a second baking sheet on the dough and let it stand for 1 hour.
Remove the top baking sheet and plastic wrap. Gently stretch and light dough to fill the pan. Spread the sauce in an even layer over the surface of the dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the entire surface of the dough, then repeat with the mozzarella cheese.
Place the pan on the baking stone, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake until the cheese is bubbly and browned, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the rim of the pan to loosen the pizza. Transfer to a cutting board, cut into squares and serve.