Best Sourdough Stuffed Chicago Style Pizza

After Arthur's post about Zachary's Chicago Style Stuffed Pizza, I wanted to try the recipe with sourdough. When I searched for recipes online to see what other people did, no one seemed to be attempting a two-tier sourdough pie in the Zachary's style. This gave me some pause, especially when my first attempt didn't turn out as great as I imagined. But the second time I got it right.

The key, (one of them, anyway) is to let the pizza sit after assembly for a couple hours to let the sourdough rise. It also requires a 15 minute rest after being removed from the oven.


Prep time: 20 min to make the dough; 30 min to prep ingredients and assemble

Rising time: 4-6 hours for first rise; 2 hrs. for second rise (make sure pan sits on stove while it preheats)

Cooking time: 30 min at 475°F (+ 30 min. to let stone heat before cooking)

Let rest 15 min in skillet before cutting.

I mixed the sourdough using my basic technique you can find on a previous post

The dough will be a little sticky. You can knead it a little between your hands, then put it in a generously oiled bowl (upwards of 1 tsp oil) and cover it with cling wrap. The oil benefits the deep dish crust, so don't be too stingy with it. Let it rise for a good 4 hours. After it spreads a good bit, knead in the oil from the edges of the bowl. Then divide the dough into 2/3 and 1/3, with an eye to being generous with that 2/3rds portion. I went a tad more generous with the 2/3rd portion on my second attempt and did not regret it.

Place each portion in a separate bowl with some cornmeal at the bottom. Cover each one with cling wrap and put the bowls in the refrigerator for just a couple hours, or overnight. I just wanted the dough to wait a few hours until I was ready to assemble the pizza.

Let the dough come to room temperature for about 10 minutes before rolling out the dough. (The first time--in the photos-- I didn't do this and had to wait for it to warm up after rolling it out.)

Oil a cast iron skillet and apply a generous amount of cornmeal to it. Then spread the main dough over the edges of the pan. 

 Arrange slices of provolone over the dough first. Make sure they overlap, and even climb up the sides a good 1/2-1 inch, (I didn't do this my first attempt, which is why the photo doesn't show this. But it made for a delicious, cheesy crust. Do it!) The second time I also made sure not to go too crazy with the toppings. It's easy to get carried away, but treat it like a regular pizza and arrange mushrooms and olives (or whatever toppings you decide) at the same thickness you would for any other pizza. 

Top everything with grated mozzarella before arranging the second layer of dough. I grated the mozzarella for the second pizza, rather than chopping it. I would highly recommend grating it. To arrange the second layer, roll it out, then stretch it to the right size to cover the pizza. You don't want it to tear, but it should get thin, and it's okay if a small hole or two develops since you're going to poke more holes in it anyway. Put the second layer of dough over the mozzarella, then press down the edges of the main layer to form a pie crust edge. Make a few penny-sized holes in the top of the dough, then let it sit for about 2 hours. 

After assembling the pizza, prepared the sauce to allow the flavors to meld. To do this, simply mix together the garlic, herbs and spices with the tomato paste, then set aside. (I tried a more traditional sauce the first go-round. It was a little too much with the sourdough, so I switched it up.)

Make sure the pizza stone is on the middle rack, to better simulate a pizza oven. Heat the stone at least 30 minutes at temperature, and as much as an hour if you're so inclined. With preheating, this process will take close to an hour, so start on it once the pizza has sat at least an hour. The heat of the oven will also help the sourdough rise, so make sure to set the pan or skillet on top.

Once the stones and oven are heated and the crust has puffed up, then spread the tomato paste and seasonings over the top of the pizza. Covered this with thinly sliced tomatoes in a single layer. Sprinkle parmesan or another cheese blend over the top.


Take the pizza out of the oven after 30 minutes, or when the crust looks done. Then let the pizza sit for 15 minutes.

Once the pizza has sat 15 min, it will require a little bit of finesse to get the pizza out of the cast iron pan with a regular metal spatula (rather than one of those longer ones). It's doable with a hot mitt and some tilting of the pan onto a cutting surface. The pizza shouldn't stick--just be careful not to puncture the bottom with the edge of the spatula.

Cut your pizza! And enjoy!

Sourdough Ingredients:

-2 c. all purpose flour

-1/4 c. cornmeal

-1/4 c. TJ's white whole wheat flour (or all purpose, if you'd prefer)

-1 tsp. salt 

-1 spring dried rosemary (crumbled)

-1/2 c. sourdough starter

-3/4 c water (+2 tsp. or more if necessary)

-1 tsp. olive oil (to oil bowl and then knead in)


-1 can tomato paste

-5 small tomatoes (enough to cover top when thinly sliced)

-handful of fresh basil (coarsely chopped)

-a few sprigs fresh oregano (chopped)

-4 cloves chopped garlic (or to taste)

-salt and pepper to taste 

-dash dried basil, oregano and thyme

-dash red pepper flakes


-8 oz. grated mozzarella

-sliced provolone (most of a pre-sliced package)

-shredded parmesan cheese (a couple oz.)



-2 chopped garlic cloves

-fava beans leaves in place of spinach (first attempt only)

Other Toppings to Try:



Special Equipment:

-Cast iron skillet or deep dish pan

-pizza stone and pizza peel

-Robin & Field's Pizza Blade