Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza Dough
Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water. Add the sugar and stir well. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine 3-1/2 cups of flour, salt, and cornmeal. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add the yeast mixture, the vegetable oil, and the 1/2 cup of water. Stir and mix thoroughly until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and a rough mass is formed.
Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a well-floured work surface. Knead and pound the dough (dust with flour if the dough sticks to your hands) for 5-6 minutes until it is smooth and soft. Dust the dough and a large mixing bowl lightly with flour. Place the dough in the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
After the dough has doubled in bulk, turn it out of the bowl and knead it for about 2 minutes. Oil the bottom and sides of the pizza pan. Spread the dough in the pan with your fingers and palm. (It will spread more easily if you let it sit in the pan for about 10 minutes.) Work the dough until it covers the bottom of the pan. Pull the edges of the dough up to form a lip or a pronounced border all around the pan. Preheat the oven to 475°F (220°C). Prick the dough bottom with a fork at 1/2-inch intervals and parbake the crust for exactly 4 minutes in the preheated oven. Brush the crust lightly with olive oil.
Baking the pizza for 4 minutes on the lowest oven rack assures a better crust bottom. Parbaking the crust is necessary to give the dough its initial spring; otherwise, the weight of the cheese and tomatoes will compact the dough and cause it to be heavy.