Deep Dish Pizza Updated – Almost There – *bonus* Coca-Cola Cupcakes

So, dear reader, as it turns out, the tomato sauce was not to blame, per se.  As you might recall from last time, I ran into a few glitches with my deep dish pizza.  Too heavy crust with a strange doughy tippy-top.  Runny cheese.  Crust bordering on overbrowned.

So take two.  This time for sure. (Not really, but almost.  I’ve definitely trial and errored my way to THE deep dish pizza recipe).

This time, it was not Monday.  It was Friday. So cured pig was back on the menu. In this case, Italian sausage from Gene’s.  I just browned it off in a pan on medium, not worrying too much about cooking it through, as it spends 30 more minutes in a blazing hot oven.  Pizza dough, grated cheese, olive oil, marinara sauce i or marinara sauce ii.  Ready to rock.

I rolled out my dough to about 1/4″ thick, and then tried a bigger pan than last time.  Last time, 10″ cast iron, this time 12″.  I flew too close to the sun.  The dough was still plenty big to cover it, and I folded just the overhanging inch over and tucked it as I should have last time…

But this time it was too thin.  I feel like Goldilocks.  This one is too thick, this one is too thin.  Next time…it will be just right.

I brushed this crust all around with olive oil. As it turns out, there’s still a tippy top doughy layer to the dough (must be the presence of any liquid on the bottom?), and the crust still got a little too brown.  I had to cover it with foil with 10 minutes left to cook, which, given the highly conductive nature of cast iron, you could imagine was hot and tricksy work.

However, overall this one was much closer.

Look at Belly just waiting for some crumbs to drop…

The bottom crust was a bit thin to support the weight of the bounteous toppings.

Here are my conclusions, which I hope to back up with evidence real, real soon:

1. The dough should be rolled out to 1/2″ thick an placed into a 10″ cast iron, with the dough pressed against the sides.

2. There should be no brushing of anything with anything. If I want buttery/olive oil-ish dough, I’ll add more to the dough.

3. The layering order should proceed as follows for optimal results – preponderance of cheese first, fixings, sauce, light sprinkling of parm and leftover cheese.

4. 475 degrees for about 30 minutes give or take should get you to the promised land.

5. Let it rest 15 minutes or that cheese just runs like the cops are chasing.

6. Invite friends or bury the saved/wrapped slices at the back of the freezer where they cannot be seen, because once the deep-dish pizza train starts rolling, it cannot be stopped.  It goes very much like this, “I should cook something healthy and light.  Especially after that pizza.  Pizza… *salivate, salivate*.  Well, it won’t really hold that long in the freezer, a mere 4-5 weeks, I wouldn’t want to take any chances.  What if I didn’t wrap it properly?  I mean, it could be getting freezer burn right now, as I sit here thinking about it. That would be tragic.  I should nip that burn in the proverbial bud. And if I turned on my oven to 300, I could go watch Kitchen Nightmares on Netflix Instant while my meal just takes care of itself.  It does represent the four food groups.  I mean, that makes it practically healthy.  I’ll just skip dessert.  And have a salad with it.  And tomorrow, I promise, no matter how much I want another slice, I’ll have something light and healthy.  For sure.”  Repeat night after night until gone.

And of course, it’s me, so I don’t skip dessert.  Instead I make –

Coca-Cola Cupcakes with Almond Espresso Frosting

These are some caffeinated cupcakes, son.

Recipe adapted from A Cozy Kitchen who adapted it from Baked: The New Frontier


1 cup Coca-cola (The real deal, not diet)
1/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2  stick unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg


1 stick butter, room temp
8 ounces cream cheese, room temp
2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp espresso powder + 1 tsp espresso powder (and more for garnish if you like)

For the frosting – beat all of these items together.  Put in a piping bag or ziploc with a piping tip and pop in the fridge. Make the cupcakes.

So after I preheat the oven to 350, I put the butter, cocoa powder, and coke in a high-sided pot and heated on medium low until the butter melted.  I use scharffenberger cocoa powder, but it’s pretty frou frou, so I’m sure any ol’ cocoa powder would do.  I like it because it’s a little spicy.  And frou frou.

Also, if you’re local to Chicago, and live at all near HarvesTime foods, i.e. @ Lawrence and Rockwell, you have to go, like now.  Not that I encourage you to step away from the blog, but do what you have to do to visit HarvesTime because they sell Mexican coke for a buck a piece.  And perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “Who cares?  I have good ol’ American coke at every convenience store that I can practically spit and hit, so why would I drag my tired butt all the way to HarvesTime for Mexican coke, I’ve had a long week, you know?  Does Mexican coke still have cocaine in it or something?”  No.  It does not.  But it does have real sugar.  No high fructose corn syrup, which, don’t get me started, but which is pure culinary malevolence.  It’s not you, corn.  I still love you.  It’s what those crazy scientist lab types have done to you, darling.  Ok, getting off the soap box now.  Sorry about that.  But real sugar.  Like real sugar.  It tastes so good.  I always have a couple of bottles of Mexican coke on hand.  That’s right.  It still comes in a bottle, that you need a real live bottle opener to open.

But so anyway, coke, butter, cocoa powder melting – great, I whisked together the flour and baking soda and salt while that’s happening, and beat my egg while I was at it.

Once the coke/butter/cocoa mixture was melted, I added the sugars and stirred until dissolved then streamed in the egg while stirring constantly so said egg wouldn’t scramble in the warm mixture.  Then I carefully folded in my flour, so I wouldn’t overmix and render my cupcakes tough/chewy.

The recipe from the cozy kitchen is double the recipe I listed, and she says her yield is 15 cupcakes.  I have no idea how this works out unless her muffin tins are much bigger or something.  I got 12 cupcakes from this.  Best part about that?  Each cupcake is only 155 calories (without frosting).  With the frosting, you don’t want to know.

Cozy Kitchen’s recipe says 325 for 20 minutes, but if 40 “cupcake bootcamps” have taught me anything, it’s that almost any cupcake the world round does great at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Now I have to say, as I was scooping these into the tin, and it was positively dripping it was so liquid, I’m saying to myself, “Yeah, right.  I’ve never seen a batter this runny, and I’ve done at least 30 different cake batters just this year.  There’s no way in hell these are going to turn out.  Waste of Mexican coke.”

Boy howdy was I ever wrong.  Delightfully wrong.  They were fluffy and delicious, if monochromatic.  They tasted like a better, homemade version of hostess cupcakes.  But the frosting changes all that.  It brings the complexity these cupcakes so desperately need.

The almond is pretty close to a cherry flavor. I think next time I will put a teaspoon of almond extract in the batter and just go straight espresso on the icing.


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