Cast Iron Pizza
I’m not really sure why it never dawned on me to make pizza in my cast iron skillet. After all, Chicago pizzerias use cast iron to make deep dish pizza and it has qualities that are sure to make for good pie. Namely, it gets really hot and stays really hot.
So, I was very happy when it destroyed all the other options in last week’s poll. I guess you guys want to know how to make pizza in a skillet!
Well, I’m happy to oblige. There’s just one or two tricks that I discovered along the way. It’s pretty straightforward though and the pizza came out AWESOME.
Cast Iron Pizza
Yield: 1 pizza
2 1/2 Cups bread flour
1 scant Tablespoon sugar
2 Teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 Teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 scant Cup warm water
1 1/2 Cups tomato sauce
1 Teaspoon dried parsley
1 Teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 Teaspoon onion powder
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Big pinch of salt and pepper
- 1/2 pound sausage, browned
- 1/4 Cup scallions, chopped
- 8-10 ounces mozzarella cheese
- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, minced
A cast iron skillet obviously!
1) To make dough, add water, sugar, salt, and yeast to a bowl and stir. Let sit for 5 minutes so yeast dissolves and starts to foam. Add flour and stir well to combine.
2) Use a hand dipped in water to vigorously work the dough until it forms a ball. Let the dough rest for a few minutes and then continue to work it until it is really soft and pliable, about 5-6 minutes of mixing.
3) Coat the dough with olive oil and store it in a plastic bag. Let it rise at room temp for an hour, then punch it down, reshape it into a ball, and store it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Remove it an hour before you intend to make pizza.
4) Prepare all your ingredients: brown sausage, chop basil and scallions, and grate cheese.
5) Stir together sauce ingredients and adjust to your tastes.
6) Roll dough out into a large circle and place it in the center of your cold skillet. Trim off excess dough, leaving about a inch of dough up the side of the skillet. Use your fingers to fold the dough over itself, making a crust.
7) Add sauce, sausage, scallions, and cheese to pizza.
8) Cook the pizza ON THE STOVETOP over high heat for 3-4 minutes to rapidly heat the pan up.
9) Move the pizza to a 450 degree oven until the pizza finishes cooking, about 18 minutes.
10) Remove the pizza and use a spatula to carefully slide the pizza out of the skillet.
11) Let it cool, slice it up, and serve it!
Making the dough
This is my standard recipe for a thicker pizza crust. You wouldn’t want a really thin crust for this pizza. It would just burn I think.
For the dough, mix together water, sugar, salt, and yeast in a bowl. Stir it together and let it sit for a few minutes until yeast is dissolved and foaming a bit. Then add in your flour and stir it together.
Use a hand dipped in water to vigorously work the dough into a ball.
As you work the dough, you might notice that it’s too wet or too dry. For example, my photo above, top right, is too dry, I added a few extra tablespoons of water. The dough should be pretty moist and flexible. If it seems firm, let it rest and relax for five minutes, then continue to work it.
After about 8 minutes of kneading it, you should have a very soft ball of dough (bottom left). Coat the dough well in olive oil and place it in a plastic bag. If you’re using the dough the same day, let it rise for an hour at room temperature, then take it out and de-gas it. Reshape it and store it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Then take it out of the fridge at least an hour before you need it.
I kept my toppings for this pizza pretty straightforward, but you could use any toppings that you would put on a normal pizza.
The sauce I used is just some dried spices stirred into tomato sauce. I kind of play with it every time I make pizza. It’s always good though.
I also chopped up some scallions and basil, browned some sausage, and grated a lot of cheese.
Shaping the pizza
This was the part that I was kind of winging. While normally, I would heat up my pizza stone and just slide the pizza on it, I knew this wouldn’t work with the cast iron skillet. I didn’t want to be putting dough in a very hot skillet.
So I started with a cold pan.
Roll the dough into a large circle and just plop it in the center of your skillet. You don’t need to oil the skillet or anything. The dough shouldn’t stick to it at all assuming you have a well-seasoned skillet. Once the dough is in your skillet (top right), use a knife to cut off any extra dough, leaving about an inch of dough up the side of the skillet (bottom left). Then use your fingers to kind of just fold the dough over itself, forming a crust (bottom right).
Now we can make some pizza!
Add a light coating of sauce to the pizza. You probably won’t need all of your pizza sauce. Then add on the sausage and scallions.
Next add on all that grated cheese! I also sprinkled on some freshly ground pepper just for extra flavor.
The Heat Trick
So I had a problem at this point. I know that to get a good crust, the dough needs to be cooked at a really hot temperature. The hotter the better. But I have a cold pan which will take forever to heat up in the oven.
So I thought I’d just cook my pizza on the stove top for a while which would heat up the bottom of the pan really quickly without cooking the toppings.
This worked like a charm.
Crank up your stove to HIGH heat and cook the pizza over high heat for about 3 minutes. You won’t notice any change in the pizza, but the pan should be really hot.
Then move it to a 450 degree oven and continue to cook it until the crust is browned and the cheese melted. This took my pie about 18 minutes.
Removing the Pie
When your pizza comes out of the oven, you should be able to get a spatula and just slide the pizza right out of the pan!
It’s a beautiful thing! (I also sprinkled on my chopped basil when the pizza came out of the oven.)
Let this cool for a minute or two and then slice it up.
The real test for me was the crust and I thought this was a really good crust. Nice and crispy but still somewhat chewy.
As I see it, this pizza was as good or better than a lot of pizzas I’ve made on my pizza stone! It was awesome.
The only downside to the cast iron method is that it’s kind of hard to make more than one pizza in a row. When you pull out your first pie, your pan will be way to hot to shape another pie in for at least 15 minutes. This probably isn’t a big deal unless you’re planning a pizza party or something.
Chalk this up to another incredible use for a cast iron skillet!