Chicago Style Pizza???

Ok I have a question for anyone doing deep dish pizza. It’s easy to figure capacity when we are talking thin crust pizzas with either a deck or a belt, but when we start talking deep dish or pan with about 30 plus minutes of cook time per pie… the only option is additional ovens? Correct? I am a deck person and just putting a plan together but I am thinking about the need to double the ovens in the shop if I plan to offer both a hand and deep dish crust offering. I am just still having trouble imagining how to handle a big rush of deep dish orders even with double the ovens or even the best of the belts out there. What am I missing? Nick I am not having a “brilliant” moment here. Let me hear what you guys do or how you handle the rushes. Thanks to all. :shock:

Mike I’m a conveyor guy myself so I can’t be as specific as you need, however we do a hand-tossed style as well as a lot of deep dish pizza, both on the same belt. Our XLT is set for a 6-6:30 minute run at around 465 degrees. The tossed pies go on a Hearth-Baked disc from Lloyds for one trip through. For the deeps we cheese the pan, run it once through, dress the pie and sauce on top (where it belongs btw :^) ) then it’s once more through for a total bake of only around 12-13:00 minutes.

We do it pretty much the way Deacon describes. (We parbake the dough in the pan, then make the pie and run through once, then cover and run through again, yes sauce on top) I have also worked in a store that really did a lot of DD.

You can certainly do both kinds of pizza in the same oven, but DD does take up more oven capacity. Have more than one oven is a big help. The other key issue is managing expectations. Tell DD customers it will be 40mins to an hour!

I think Bodegahwy hit the nail right on the head when he said to manage your customer’s expectations. In Chicago, nobody goes out for a deep-dish pizza with expectations of waiting less than 1-hour and 15-minutes, and it could be longer. Shorter? Seldom. Do your home work and find out, through experimentation, how long your delivery time (prep to table) for your Chicago style deep-dish pizza will take in your oven(s), then just be honest and tell your customers how long of a wait to expect. You might think about bundling a meal option with your chicago style, deep-dish offering. For example, give a free order of bread sticks, or pitcher of soft drink with the “special”. This might include, a pitcher of soft drink, bread sticks, salad, and a medium or large Chicago style deep-dish pizza. This helps ease the wait. By the way, in Chicago, they just stand in line for anything from 60 to 90-minutes, but then, that’s part of the culture.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Now Tom be nice… I grew up in Chicago… I never waited over 57 minutes for anything! :wink: First I have to agree with the couple of responses… YES THE SAUCE GOES ON TOP! I guess in my mind I have always just thought of it the way that Lou’s baked their pies… and they use if I remember correctly a lower temp and I want to say 40 minute back time. Now they also have a whole bank of ovens in each restaurant. I am thinking that the par-bake routine is the same then with decks or belts. Get the crust going then dress the pie to finish. YEs it is all about time management and customer expectation. Now where do I put those extra 4 ovens? :roll:

Or, you can do it Chicago style, and just use one big, no make that massive reel type oven, like those from Middleby-Marshall, Fish or Baxter. With these ovens, they bake the deep-dish pizzas approximately 45-monutes, and their thin crust pizzas right close to 30-minutes. Who did you know that got you in so fast? LOL
What part of the city or suburbs did you come from?
Tom Lehmann/the Dough Doctor

It is kind of funny that you mention the old reel type ovens. One of the two pizza places I will actually go to in this town installed one when they opened about 10 years ago now. It lasted about a year before they got so feed up with it that they got rid of it and installed 4 decks instead. It was a fun thing to watch but you are right in saying how massive they are and you really have to have trained oven tenders to run that thing. If I remember right this one had 8 or 10 shelves in it and if you were not careful you leave the pies on the back shelves while loading the front…then you have burnt pizza all over the place and when it takes another 2-3 minutes to cycle around to even access that last shelf… I can’t tell you how many times I got an earful from the owner complaining about his “pride & joy.” I really have to wonder about the Rotoflex oven? I have been talking to a shop owner that uses one but have not seen one up close yet. It has my attention though. :mrgreen:

Yep, those are all of the fun things about reel type ovens. A good oven tender learn how to load and unload the pizzas (only one or two on a shelf) on the fly, without stopping the rotation of the shelves. They do have spectaculat capacity though. With a dozen or so pizzas on each shelf, and no need to move or spin those pizzas, you would never run out of oven capacity. Think of it like this, four deck could only bake a max of maybe 40 pizzas at one time, and then you’re still moving and spinning those pizzas all over the oven shelves. You can get that same capacity from two, maybe three of the shelves on that reel oven, and still have all those other shelves free to accept more pizzas.The biggest down side to these ovens is their lack of bottom heat, hence, the near ikmpossibioity of getting a crispy bottom crust. That’s not a problem in Chicago, as a crispy bottom crust is not anticipated, even on the thin crust pizzas, only the edges are crispy, the rest of the pie is …shall we say…flexible.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
By the way: I’m a south sider, Tinley Park

I LOVE me a 2-crust pizza like PH used to do when I was a teen. Crispish bottom crust, mozz and filling, top crust with sauce. Came out like 1.5" tall, and took 30 to 40 minutes to bake. I can remember waiting an hour is really busy times. Sounds like you are in same place. These guys are the baking bomb-diggities!

I just don’t really know how to do it well right off my head. I’d guess a hot pan with oil, then the whole double baked like these guys recomend. I could almost see doing the 1st pass through the oven as a par-bake for 20 or 30 of these. Hold at room temp, and then dress/finish to order. Would this work?? How about hot holding the par-cooked bases in a hot cabinet/proofer?? Sure, the 2nd bake with a room temp base would still be 20 minutes or so in a deck . . . but it could be a workable solution?? Could spend unused productivity to bake off the bases (read no pizza cooking in that spot over there . . . bang!) and keep the whole train moving.

Wait till the health inspector tunes out…ok, there…Nick, we’ve been known to “pre”-parbake a few extra deeps on a Friday or Saturday night so we can keep the line moving smoothly. We’ll do nothing different, do the std. cheese and one pass, then we’ll stack the par’s on top of the oven on top of an upside down empty pan. I guess it’s to help me feel like I don’t have them sitting up there just baking the bottom of the pies to death waiting for that next order. Seems to work just fine though. We’ve never tried to pre-par, and hold in the cooler, not sure if that’d present other issues with moisture forming in the pan or not.

Bread and cheese . . . I’ve seen cheesy breadsticks in bakeries sit all day. Food quality would be my main concern . . . I like hearing from you deaconvolker . . . I might could do these on occasion for specials if I can par-bake the first step and hold at room temp for a while.

Oh! And it sounds good for the original poster.

Hate to hijack a post, but how much dough would you guys recomend for a half-size steam pan? I KNOW!! It is a heretical idea, but I got dough and a half pan. Live with it :slight_smile: (I do also know that Chicago style dough is different than mine)

I think my biggest fear is also going to be quality of finished product. Are you going to dry out the crust by letting it sit and then reheat it to finish. The other thing is, and here comes the BIG argument, of what a Chicago deep dish is. There is in my opinion the traditional deep dish…which is not thicker a crust than a hand tosed pie with a 2" lip around the edge and yes the sauce on top :stuck_out_tongue: and then there is stuffed pizza that comes from who knows where…that is a double crust and don’t get me wrong…can be very good. I grew up in Lake Zurich, IL and there is a little place called JJ Twigs that has one of the best stuffed I have ever found. They use a slightly salted crust and a thick rolled edge with a really fresh and sweet tasting sauce. They have been around for a really long time and they do stuffed right. Too many places try to make a deep dish stuffed and end up with a soupy mess that is just…well…crap. Tom what about the WP Bakery oven products? I know they are big in the bakery world but it seems like they are putting their foot in the pizza world. Do you know of anyone using them yet or any experience with them?

Here’s my argument against parbaking just the crust- the sauce doesn’t adequately cook. Part of the flavor profile of Chicago style pies is that the tomatoes roast for 30-40 minutes in the oven. I have tried to parcook crusts and the final product looks right but is decidedly not as good. If I had a steam kettle I guess I could cook off my sauce, but that seems overly complicated and not worth the investment (plus I don’t have the room…)

Patrick Cuezze

I’ve been hearing about their products, but as yet, I ve not had the opportunity to look at any of them yet, nor have I spoken to anyone using it either, at least I don’t think I have. The fellow who set the bar for me and stuffed pizza was Edward Jacobson, of Edwardo’s Pizza. He had several downtown locations and a few out in the “burbs”.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Like a lot of you, I was born and raised in Chicago :slight_smile: My current restaurants serve Chicago-style pizza exclusively and we do thin-crust and stuffed.

One of our stores is deck and one is conveyor so I have some experience with both type of operations. Our deck store definitely does a better job cooking the stuffed than our conveyor store. I thought we would have the most problem trying to get the thin-crust correct on the conveyor, but that turned out to be much easier than the stuffed.

We cook it in two stages just like everybody here as alluded to - without sauce for about 12-14 minutes (until the top crust is nice and crispy) and then with sauce for another 10 or so. Those times are when the ovens are at full temperature.

This is exactly what we do for our stuffed sauce, and I believe it was Tom Lehmann that gave me the idea (correct me if I’m wrong Tom.) You don’t necessarily need a steam kettle to cook your sauce. We have a cook-and-hold steam table, so we just fill it with sauce in the morning and let it cook. We then use the hot sauce straight out of a steamer to sauce the pizzas. This cuts some of the cooking time off because we aren’t wasting energy in the oven heating cold sauce.

We do all of our business in the deck store on two Blodgett 1060’s, and it’s not exactly a small store. You just have to manage your wait times if you don’t have enough oven space to handle the rush. It’s not uncommon for my store to go to a 90 minute wait for a stuffed pizza pick-up or delivery on a Friday or Saturday night. Hey, that’s the way it is and I don’t feel bad about it at all!

I’m not in Chicago now, and at the beginning it was very difficult to explain to people why it takes at least 35 minutes to get their pizza - it just takes some education. The first time a 6 pound pizza hits their table they’ll understand.

Reminds me of the Giordano’s on Rush Street, where they make you place your order before you even have a table. Last time I was there I asked the server how many drivers they had on the clock at the time. His response was “I’m not sure, maybe 30 or so.” :shock:

Did you need to put a screen under your deep-dish pizzas withthe deck ovens? I’ve always gotten a darker than wanted bottom crust color if I didn’t. I’m sure part of the problem stems from the use of adding egg shade to the dough to get the yellow color. When you add the yellow color to the browning, the summation of color was too dark, so we just got into the habit of putting a screen under the pan. I’ve always wanted to experiment with using pans made with dimples in the bottom to hold the pan slightly off of the deck to see if that would work as well, but I’ve not had the chance as yet.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

We don’t Tom; the pan sits directly on the deck. One problem I have is that our Small Stuffed pizzas (10 inch) do not brown up nearly enough on the sides and the bottom before the pizza is done. I’m going to try removing those from the pan after sauce and either cooking on a screen or right on the deck. That’s a new size for us so we’re still working out the kinks.

Tom, as long as you’re here I have a question. One of the problems we occasionally have with our stuffed pizzas is the sides coming apart when we cut them. We have the two layers of dough on the pan, we crimp cut it with a rolling pin and then “pinch” the sides together and into the side of the pan to make the edge. Those two layers of dough, for some reason, do not want to become one and as a result the edge often splits. What’s the secret? I’ve thought about egg wash, but I don’t want raw eggs on the line.

I know exactly what you mean. I have the same problem too. It takes a little extra work, but what I’ve found that seems to work well is to moisten the vertical edges of the base (bottom) dough with just a little water before I apply the thinner, second layer of top dough. The operative word here is MOISTEN, brushing the water on will apply too much water, so I just wet my fingers and run them around the dough, the ides is just to make it tacky, not wet. Then, when I crimp cut the dough from the pan, and finger crimp the dough layers together they stay together rather than seperating.
Are your pans bright colored or dark colored. The pans I’ve worked with were all dark due to seasoning or more recently, they have had a dark, anodized finish, which helps a lot with heat absorption.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks Tom, I’ll try the water tonight. I have a little ninth pan space in my make-line open so we could just fill that with some dipping water.

Well my 14" pans are now very dark from almost 6 years of seasoning. The 10" pans were seasoned with oil three times before using, but they are still very, very light. Some of them have probably only been cooked in 5 or 6 times. I never thought of it, but is that why the sides and crust are coming out so light on those?

Probably so. Especially if the pizzas made in those well worn, seasoned pans are coming out better/darker. During some down time run those newly seasoned pans through the oven a few times to help darken them up a bit. As soon as they get to be a nice golden color, you should see an improvement in the way they bake.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor