Everyone has their favorite style of pizza. Pan Pizza will not convert Neapolitan or other thin crust pizza lovers. For those of you who like your pizza loaded with 3 kinds of meat and weighed down with double cheese, this won’t be your “go to” pizza. But who says you can’t enjoy more than one kind of pizza? Pan Pizza is it is like having fresh, tasty, homemade bread as an accompaniment to a meal, a bowl of soup, or an assorted plate of salumi. An Italian Chopped Salad (p. 38 in the cookbook) and a piece of fresh, hot Pan Pizza makes a delicious and satisfying meal. And, YES, you can add other toppings. Just be sure to use a light hand so the dough can puff up in all its pillowy, crispy glory.
Vegetables and meats should be cooked before adding them in a single layer. Try other sauces such as pesto or one of our favorites, dollops of pizza sauce and pesto. Although the recipe recommends mozzarella, Fontina is quite tasty as well. I encourage you to stick to the layering process – cheese first, followed by sauce – and remember, cheese all the way to the edge of the pan! Add another sprinkling of cheese over the sauce if you like. I know it’s convenient to use pre-shredded cheese, but please read, “Let’s Talk Mozzarella” for why you should not use it and which cheese I recommend. After all, when your pizza consists of crust, sauce, and cheese, you want the best ingredients possible.
- 2 cups Tipo “00” flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 2 tablespoons for pan
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, dry packed in vacuum-sealed plastic packages, grated (do not use fresh mozzarella that is packed in water or brine or your pizza will be soggy)
- ¾ – 1 cup pizza sauce, homemade (p. 64 in the cookbook) or Mezzetta brand pizza sauce, thinned with 1-2 tablespoons water
- Chili pepper flakes (optional, add to pizza sauce or sprinkle on top of the cheese)
- Fresh basil, cut chiffonade
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and yeast. Add the water and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the liquid is absorbed and a sticky dough ball is formed.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to raise for 1½ to 2 hours. Dough should be doubled in volume. If you have time, let it raise for an additional 30 minutes to develop more flavor.
- The pizza can be baked in a 9” or 10” pan. A cake pan or an oven proof skillet can be used. A 9” pan will give you a thicker crust. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. This is not necessary if you use a non-stick skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.
- When the dough has doubled, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl with the rubber spatula and pulling it toward the center. It helps to spray your spatula with non-stick cooking spray first. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you gently deflate until the mass becomes a rough ball. Do not over-work the dough. Turn the dough into the prepared pan.
- Roll the dough around in the oil to coat it all over. Press down on the dough and flatten to almost fit the pan. Let it rest as is, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes. If the dough has not risen to fit the pan, don’t worry. It isn’t necessary for the dough to fit the pan completely. It will raise some more while cooking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 425° convection.
- After dough has rested, using all ten fingers, dimple the dough. If the pizza has not risen to fit the pan, you can use the dimpling process to push the dough to the edges of the pan.
- Sprinkle the dough with grated mozzarella – all the way to the edge. Drop the pizza sauce on top of the cheese using a tablespoon. The sauce will not cover the cheese completely. Don’t spread it out.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. A 10” pan will take a little less time. Interior temperature should be about 200°. Pizza should be brown and crusty, especially the bottom and around the edges. Home ovens can vary a lot, so use the visual cues and your own preference for the perfect bake.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Release the pizza from the pan and turn it out on a cooling rack. Continue to cool for another 5 minutes before cutting.
- Sprinkle with fresh basil for serving.