Sunday, October 14, 2012

Deep dish with semolina

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The most useful pizzamaking lesson you'll ever learn.

Semolina and a hand.

Whole deep dish pizza, made of dough with semolina in it.

Every passionate pizzamaker knows the most widely spread pizzamaking myth is that deep dish dough has cornmeal in it. We'd never go so far as to start a fight with anyone for spreading this myth, but it does piss us off pretty seriously that people continue to spread the myth; people like the hosts of America's Test Kitchen, as likeable as they are, as well as celebrity chefs on Food Network.

The issue is not so much that these people continue to spread this harmless bit of misinformation (because we all spread misinformation sometimes, accidentally). Rather, the issue is that they spread this myth so confidently, even though a little research should lead anyone to at least question the 'conventional wisdom' that says deep dish dough has cornmeal in it. The issue is that these people either don't take their research leads seriously or they don't even bother starting the research. (My guess is a little of both.) Instead of taking their research seriously, they just tell you whatever they feel like telling you, with almost no regard for whether or not it's true.

Another issue is that these celebrity chefs hold positions of authority, which means people trust them to know what they're talking about. People trust them so much that we never even consider doubting what they tell us, even when their information is horribly untrue.

In contrast to every celebrity chef I've ever watched, the members of are the most passionate and knowledgeable pizzamakers anywhere. They devote a big chunk of their lives to discovering the secrets of making great pizza and sharing those secrets with anyone who wants to know them. Yes, we're obsessive about it. We're even willing to make ourselves look like snarky pricks if that's what it takes to help people learn the hard-to-find truth about pizzamaking.


Since I've already established that real deep dish pizza dough does not contain cornmeal, what about semolina?

Several years ago, a member visited a deep dish pizza joint that used semolina in their dough. Shortly after this, the member began a thread about making "Malnati's style" deep dish dough with semolina. As far as I know, semolina had never really been discussed as a prospective deep dish dough ingredient by members prior to this. However, this thread eventually became the definitive "Malnati's style" deep dish thread on, as signified by the 'sticky' that keeps this thread visible to anyone who views the main page of the Chicago Style boards.

So deep dish dough with semolina must be amazing, right? I mean, if it has become the go-to dough formula for the people I've already described as the most knowledgeable group of pizzamakers in the world, it must be the real deal, right? Which means semolina must be an essential component of making a perfect Malnati's clone. Right?


Having made deep dish pizza out of dough containing 20% semolina each of the last two days, I want to make it clear that adding semolina to the dough does not make the dough more like Maltnati's than dough without semolina. In fact, it makes the dough less like Malnati's than every other deep dish dough I've ever made (none of which contained semolina).

Now, I can understand why a lot of people might like a pizza made out of this dough, but I'm puzzled as to why this dough is so popular among the users of Here's why it puzzles me: It tastes like it has cornmeal in it.

So let me get this straight, members who specialize in making 'Chicago Style' pizza:

It's a sin to put cornmeal in deep dish dough, but it's perfectly acceptable to add semolina to deep dish dough, even though semolina contributes nearly identical characteristics as cornmeal?

And let me get this straight: Y'all think it's OK to call this type of pizza 'Malnati's style' even though Malnati's deep dish dough doesn't have semolina in it; even though Malnati's crust doesn't taste like it has semolina in it; even though you're basically spreading misinformation to people who think you're giving them the answers they've been trying to find for years?

I don't have a problem with members liking this dough. My problem is that they call it something it's not.

My issue is not so much with BTB, the member who began the thread (and who surely had no idea it would become the definitive Malnati's thread). My issue is with the supposedly-knowlegeable users and moderators who allowed this thread to become a major source of misinformation to anyone who ends up at hoping to learn how to make an "authentic" Malnati's style deep dish pizza. (But BTB certainly should not have given the thread such a misleading title.)

It took me one attempt at making this pizza to know it wasn't a good representation of Malnati's style, which is why I don't call it 'Malnati's style.' And you wanna know how easy it was for me not to mislead people into thinking this dough makes a Malnati's style pizza? It was even easier than misleading people, because I had to type two fewer words. (That is, I didn't have to type either 'Malnati's' or 'style.')

I've made it no secret that I think is a fantastic web site, but I now feel comfortable saying its Chicago Style section is very amateur and misleading. There is a lot of good information on the Chicago boards, but there is a whole bunch of bad information, too; mostly from people who portray themselves as die-hard defenders of everything Chicago.

So no, I'm not telling you to put semolina in your deep dish dough. But I'm not telling you not to, either. I'm just sharing my opinion about how my pizzas turned out when I used semolina, and I'm letting you know that if a dough has semolina in it, it's not Malnati's style.

Here's the dough formula I used for my deep dish with semolina:

80% Meijer AP flour
20% Bob's Red Mill semolina
(100% total flour)

52% Water
0.5% ADY
1% Salt
22% Corn oil

And here's a recipe to make 20 oz of this dough:

9.12 oz bleached AP flour
2.28 oz Semolina
5.93 oz Water
0.57 tsp ADY
0.66 tsp Salt
2.51 oz Corn oil

No step-by-step instructions for this one because I've already written them elsewhere. (If you need instructions, click on the deep dish tag.) Also, I don't really want you to make this dough. If you want to make deep dish pizza, make it right.

(Also, to the best of my knowledge, the pizzeria using semolina was in Florida, not Chicago. Take whatever you want from that bit of information.)

Here's another picture of the first pizza I made with this dough. Yeah, I know it looks just like every other deep dish pizza I've shown. That's why I'm only showing you two pics.

One slice missing.

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