Cast Iron Pizza
With a no-knead dough that bakes up crisp on the bottom and pillowy on the top, Cast Iron Pizza is the pan pizza of your childhood dreams. It’s surprisingly easy to make and you don’t have to log minutes in a reading program to enjoy one.
Pizza Hut Book It Program
When my kids were in elementary school, they participated in a program sponsored by Pizza Hut. It was designed to encourage kids to read by setting reading goals, tracking their reading time, and rewarding them with a certificate for a personal-sized pan pizza.
I loved this program because Pizza Hut made it available to homeschoolers, which we were for 17 years. My kids loved the program because every month they got a whole pizza to themselves. Never mind that it was the size of a small salad plate, this pizza was theirs and theirs alone.
When I was a kid, there was no Book It program, unfortunately. This was when Pizza Huts were still a popular place for families to eat. They were instantly recognizable with their angular red roof and all-you-can-eat pizza/pasta/salad buffet.
While the rest of my family liked the hand-tossed crust, I was on team pan pizza all the way. Occasionally my mom would relent and order a whole pan pizza for the family. The greasy, crunchy bottom and cheesy edges were my favorite part.
What makes this pizza so good? A cast iron skillet.
Cast Iron Cookware
Cooking in cast iron pots and pans has been around for a long, long time. My mom remembers her North Korean grandmother cooking rice in a cast iron or earthenware pot as they did centuries prior. In America, cast iron skillets were popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries because they were inexpensive and long-lasting.
Because cast iron can withstand high temperatures and retain heat, it is perfect for cooking over a fire, on the stovetop, or in the oven. Cast iron is great of course for stews and braises, but it is also ideal for baked items like breads, cakes, and cobblers.
My husband’s grandma gave us a cast iron skillet when we were first married. It rusted and I thought I ruined it, so I threw it out. Yikes.
I didn’t know that although cast iron is nearly indestructible, it needs to be cared for in specific ways.
How to Care for Cast Iron
Cast iron cookware can last for many decades if cared for properly. Here are a few tips that I wish I had known earlier.
- Determine if your cast iron cookware is already seasoned. If you are buying from a company like Lodge Cast Iron, then chances are it is. A seasoned pan has been sprayed with vegetable oil and baked at a high temp to create a non-stick surface. You will want to re-season your pan from time to time by scrubbing it, applying a thin layer of cooking oil, then baking it upside down at 450F/230C for 1 hour.
- Cleaning cast iron does not require soap but you can use a small amount if you’d like. Scrape out any food residue and rinse with warm water. Some folks use a scraper or chain mail scrubber to get all the crusties off. Dry thoroughly and rub a small amount of oil onto the surface before storing.
- Never place your cast iron cookware in the dishwasher or soak it in the sink. This will cause it to rust. Air drying also can cause rust. If this happens, all is not lost! Just scour all the surfaces with a metal scouring pad and soap to remove the rust. Once the rust is gone, follow the steps above to season your pan.
Cast iron skillets range in price from very reasonable to outrageously expensive. You can sometimes find them in thrift stores and at garage sales. The Lodge Cast Iron brand is widely available and a good value. My husband and kids gave me a 12-inch cast iron skillet over 10 years ago as a Christmas gift. It has cooked many meals including this week’s recipe for pan pizza.
Easy Pan Pizza
What I really love about this recipe is that you don’t have to do everything in one day. The dough is prepared the day before and allowed to rest overnight. It is crucial to do this as it is a no-knead dough that needs time to develop flavor, hydration, and a strong gluten network. All the things needed for a delicious crust.
Another thing that makes this pizza easy is that after the overnight rise, the dough is proofed right in the cast iron skillet. No transferring unwieldy dough discs into a hot oven. The pizza is proofed, topped, and baked all in the same pan.
The hardest part about this pizza: choosing the toppings.
- Don’t have time for the overnight rest? Start the dough in the morning and allow it to rise 8 hours during the day (in the fridge if your kitchen is over 70F/20C). It will be ready in time for dinner that night.
- Make the dough up to 3 days in advance and store it in the fridge. Place it in a Ziploc bag to prevent it from drying out. It can be frozen in a Ziploc bag for 6 months.
- A fresh salad with fried goat cheese makes for an amazing side!
Many thanks to Serious Eats for the foolproof pan pizza recipe.
- 2 ½ cups bread flour
- 1 tsp instant dry yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 ¼ cup water
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 ½ cups pizza sauce
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
- Handful of pepperoni, sliced mushrooms, broccolini spears
- Tip the flour, yeast, salt, water, and olive oil into a large bowl. Stir together until everything is combined and no dry bits remain. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to rest overnight in the fridge. If your kitchen is cool (under 70F/20C), you can leave it on the counter overnight but no more than 24 hours.
- After the overnight rest, flour your hands and divide the dough into two equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of oil each into two 10 or 12-inch cast iron skillets. If you don’t have two cast iron pans, you can place the other dough into a 10-inch cake pan but the results won’t be quite the same.
- Place the dough into the prepared pans and turn it once to coat it with oil. Press the dough flat so it is a disc. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and allow to rise on the counter for 2-ish hours or until it nearly fills the pan to the edges. Uncover the dough and lightly press the dough from the center outwards to the edges of the pan so it is evenly spread.
- Preheat the oven to 550F/290C. Top each dough with equal amounts of pizza sauce and mozzarella, taking it to the edges. Add the pepperoni, mushrooms, and broccolini (or whatever toppings you desire).
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the bottom is crisp golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Remove from the oven. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and cut into slices.
Keywords: cast iron pizza