How to Make Excellent Skillet Pizza
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Many of you know I am a huge fan of the Baking Steel, a 1/4-inch thick slab of steel that creates crisp bottom crusts and airy edges on pizza and flat breads. Since seeing my first Baking Steel pizza emerge from my oven ballooned and blistered with a golden undercarriage, the Baking Steel has become my tool of choice for making great pizza at home.
When I want to involve the children in the pizza-making process, however, I find it a little bit easier to use cast iron skillets. Moreover, it’s nice to know how to make excellent skillet pizza in your favorite cast iron pan or other heavy-bottomed pan.
This dough recipe is from my cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs.
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This is a double recipe of the skillet pizza in my cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs.
This recipe yields 6 rounds of pizza dough. Recipe can be halved; dough can be refrigerated.
I typically bake 4 pizzas one night, then refrigerate 2 rounds of dough (in individual quart containers), which I bake on the following evening, often just brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.
If you are unfamiliar with the peasant bread dough, it is a very wet, no-knead dough. The key when handling it, is to use as much flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the board and your hands.
Jarred sauce: Most of the year, I use jarred tomato sauce. I like using a local (to me) brand, Casa Visco marinara, or Rao’s Marinara.
Mozzarella: Look for mozzarella not stored in brine to prevent the dough from getting too soggy.
for the dough
- 4 cups (512 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for assembly
- 2 teaspoons (10 g) kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) instant yeast
- 2 cups (456 g) lukewarm water (made my stirring together 1.5 cups cold water and 0.5 cups boiling water)
toppings for tomato & mozzarella:
- Olive oil for the skillets
- Jarred tomato sauce, see notes above
- Fresh mozzarella, see notes above
- Sea salt, optional
toppings for kale & mushroom:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 1 bunch kale, tough stems chopped off, remaining leaves and stems finely chopped
- 6 to 8ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
- Fresh mozzarella, see notes above
- Crème fraîche
- Sea salt
- To make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and instant yeast. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. (If you need to use active dry yeast instead, proof it in the lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar first for about 10 minutes, until foamy, before adding to the other ingredients.)
- Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk. Note: Here’s a trick for making the perfect warm spot for the dough to rise. Set the oven to 400° F and let it preheat for 1 minute, then shut it off. The temperature will be between 80° F and 100° F. you should be able to place your hands (carefully) on the oven grates without burning them.
- Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 550° F. Cover a work surface or cutting board liberally with flour — use at least 1/4 cup and more as needed. The dough is very wet, so don’t hesitate to use flour as needed. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball. Turn the dough out onto your floured surface and use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 6 equal portions. With floured hands, roll each portion into a ball, using the pinkie-edges of your hands to pinch the dough underneath each ball. Let the balls sit on their tucked-in edges for at least 20 minutes without touching.
- Pour 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil into one or two 8- to 10-inch oven-safe skillet. (If you have two skillets, prepare two—I don’t bake more than two pizzas at a time, but if you have two ovens or if your oven is large enough to fit three skillets on one rack, you can prepare three skillets at this step.) Transfer one ball of dough to each prepared skillet, and roll in the oil to coat.
- With oiled hands and working from the center out, gently stretch the dough to fit the skillet or into an 8- to 9-inch round. As soon as the dough begins resisting or tearing, stop, let it rest for 5 minutes, then stretch again—small tears are fine and can easily be pinched back together.
- For the tomato and mozzarella pizzas: Spoon sauce over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border or so. Top with mozzarella to taste (see photos above for guidance). Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, if using. Place the skillets in the oven, one or two at a time, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are golden. Check the underside with a metal spatula; it should be crisp and golden brown. If the underside of the crust is still pale, continue baking for 3 to 5 minutes (checking often), or place the pan over a burner on medium-high heat for about a minute, keeping an eye on it the entire time and continuing to peek at the underside.
- For the kale and mushroom pizzas: Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When it shimmers, reduce the heat to medium, add the mushrooms and let them cook for 1 minute without disturbing them. After the 1 minute, stir to distribute and rearrange, then let cook for another minute. Stir again. Season with kosher salt and let cook another minute. When mushrooms are brown on all sides, scoop them into a bowl and return the skillet to high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. When it shimmers, add the kale and let cook for 1 minute without disturbing it. After the 1 minute, stir to distribute and rearrange, then let cook for another minute. Stir again. Season with kosher salt and let cook another minute. When the kale has wilted, turn off the heat, return the mushrooms to the pan, stir to combine, and taste. Adjust with salt to taste.
- Spoon crème fraîche over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border or so—I use about a tablespoon per pizza. Top with a layer of sautéed kale and mushrooms. Top with mozzarella to taste. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt. Place the skillets in the oven, one or two at a time, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are golden. Check the underside with a metal spatula; it should be crisp and golden brown. If the underside of the crust is still pale, continue baking for 3 to 5 minutes, or place the pan over a burner on medium-high heat for about a minute, keeping an eye on it the entire time and continuing to peek at the underside.
- Prep Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Pizza
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American, Italian
Keywords: skillet, pizza, cast iron, simple, children, kale, mushroom