Layered with pepperoni, sausage, smoked ham, sautéed mushrooms, rich tomato sauce, and a gooey five-cheese blend, The Village is surprisingly light. The secret lies in the preparation of the cured meats and thick sauce. Read on to find out more...
Union Pizza Company closely monitors the temperature of their dough. A blend of H&R unbleached and semolina flours, the dough is hydrated with a generous portion of butter, along with corn oil, olive oil—not extra virgin, since the smoke point is too low—and water. All ingredients are kept at room temperature and emerge from the mixer in the low 80’s, nudging along the dry active yeast. The resulting dough is soft and loose, to ensure a flaky crust.
When the Union Pizza Company first opened, they used typical deep dish pans. But removing the heavy pies was slow, unwieldy work. So Bruce began using Dura-Kote cheesecake pans, instead.
With ample oil in the dough, there is little need to worry about the crust sticking to the pan. Still, Union Pizza Company glazes the interior of the 12” pan with a light layer of butter for flavor, and a dusting of cornmeal for texture.
In this commercial kitchen, a press is used to flatten and bring the refrigerated dough up to room temperature—in the late spring of California, that's about 79º F. At home, be sure to let your dough rest and rise to temperature before rolling it out or pressing it into place in the pan.
Line the Pan
Drape the sheet of dough into the pan. You shouldn’t need to trim the edges—as the pie is filled, the dough relaxes and pulls itself neatly into pan.
How Much Cheese?!
Yes, an entire pound of shredded cheeses are poured into the base of the pie.
Render the Fat
At Union Pizza Company, all toppings are pre-cooked. The Zoe’s pepperoni and Marisa’s sausage is laid out on perforated pans and baked for 7 to 10 minutes. This renders a significant amount of fat, concentrating the flavors into crisp pork pucks. The mushrooms are also sautéed, adding flavor and removing the bitter water it would otherwise release into the pizza.
Fill 'er Up
Layers of pepperoni and sausage are laid evenly on top of the cheese, followed by blanket-like squares of smoked ham. When the layer of sautéed mushrooms gets added, the crust is filled almost to the brim! And no, we're not done yet.
Bruce prefers his tomatoes with no citric acid—just tomatoes and salt—so he sticks with the Escalon brand for all three styles that go into his sauce. The tomatoes are drained, extracting as much water as possible—at home, this should take about 20 minutes.
Take care to avoid getting any sauce on the very top of the dough where it will touch the pan. With a naturally high sugar content, the sauce will quickly burn during the bake. Not the worst thing in the world, but not the most delicious, either.
Are you making a bunch of deep dish pizzas (must be party time!)? At Union Pizza Company ,the chef places a nip of each topping in the center of the pie to identify them, both in and out of the oven.
Not Done Yet
The pizza bakes at 475 degrees for 20-22 minutes. Here, Bruce points out the still undercooked dough, telling us the pizza is not quite ready. Though only a thin rim of crust is visible, you’ll want to be sure it is fully browned before removing it from the oven.
Push it Real Good
Place an object approximately the size of the pan’s bottom beneath the opening. Place the pan on top and the pizza pops right up—like a push pop! With a final sprinkle of Parmesan, this pizza is ready to devour!