Pizza made at home used to scare me. Aside from a grill, it’s hard to get a hot enough temperature in your oven to get a decent, crispy crust. After a few attempts, I lost all hope and gave up. A few months later I saw an episode of The Cooking Loft with Alex Guarnaschelli. She was executing a technique for pizza that I had never thought of. Frying the dough in a cast iron skillet before topping it. Then, finishing off the baking in an oven. Genius!
This pizza is great. So great in fact, we rarely order it out anymore (not that we have a slew of great pizza shops around here anyway). This recipe makes 2 12-inch pizzas.Top it with whatever you like. Unlike many pizza crusts, this one can take a beating. So, pile the toppings on. She can handle it, I promise!
Basic Pizza Dough, recipe follows
8 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups pizza sauce (make your own or use jarred)
8 oz whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
Additional toppings (I used pepperoni, ham, and bacon – it’s been dubbed “Porkapalooza”)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a 12 inch round cast iron skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Use a spatula to press gently on the top of the round to keep it relatively flat as it cooks. When you see it is slightly brown on the underside, season the top lightly with salt and flip. Remove from heat. Season the other side with salt. Spread about 3/4 cup sauce evenly over the dough. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella. Then, top with whatever toppings you like. Place in pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes or so, until cheese is nice and melty.
Repeat with remaining dough and topping.
Basic Pizza Dough:
1 package dry active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling dough
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus some additional for coating the bowl
In a large bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. Stir to dissolve the yeast and allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes.
Using a sieve or strainer, “sift” about half of the flour over the yeast mixture and blend until smooth with your hands. Add the salt, pepper and honey and mix to blend. Sift in the remaining flour and mix to blend.
Lightly flour a cutting board or flat surface. Turn the pizza dough onto the floured area and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. The flour should feel smooth and the ingredients fully integrated. Place the dough inside a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place, about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in volume.
Press gently on the dough and turn it onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts, rolling each half into a loose ball. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest for an additional 15 minutes. Flatten each ball, and roll into a 12 inch round. Place each round in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Adapted from: Alex Guarnaschelli