Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Firing up the Cast Iron Skillet for Pizza

OK, so you know I am no Gwyneth Paltrow; I have no wood oven built to spec in my backyard.  But I do have a skillet and this has become one of my favorite items for making pizzas and flat breads.

I usually use Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast (which doesn't need to rise) but I was out of it so I had to do it the old fashioned way, making sure that I started the dough 2 hours before cooking time.

I have a lot of friends that still think making pizza is hard and they are always impressed when I make it for them.  It is so cheap and easy to make and turns out much yummier than some $6.99 frozen pizza from the grocery store.  And total active time on dough is less than 20 minutes.  And that includes the rolling out and cooking part! 

Basic Pizza Crust 
makes 2 skillet sized pizza crusts

1 3/4 to 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I tried using fancy "00" flour and didn't notice any difference.)
1 envelope rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup very warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Add water and oil and mix thoroughly 1-2 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup additional flour to make a soft, sticky dough.  Turn out on floured surface and knead about 5 minutes, until nice and firm and elastic.  (You can add a little more flour at this point if need be to make it less sticky.)  Place in a bowl and cover with a fine layer of oil.  Cover with a dish cloth and allow to rise 1 1/2 hours or about double in size.  Use the time during rising to prep your pizza ingredients or cook your sauce.

Punch down dough and divide in half.  Roll out half of dough into a circle a little larger than your cast iron skillet. 

Heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat and lightly brush pan with oil.  Once heated, carefully place circle of dough in pan and press edges up side.  Allow to cook for about 5 minutes.

Turn on broiler.

After a few minutes, gently raise up dough and see if it is getting brown underneath.  You don't want it burnt of course and every stove's medium high setting is a little different.  Once it is sufficiently browned, flip crust over and press edges against side of pan.  

Top your pizza with whatever your heart desires.  Allow bottom to cook for a few minutes. 

Set under broiler until nice and bubbly, about 3-4 minutes. Slide off onto cookie sheet and repeat with your second half of dough.  It is easy to under cook this so if in doubt, pinch off a little dough and test it for doneness.  My second pizza came out a little doughier than the first. 

Enjoy on your back deck on your new patio table with a refreshing pilsner.  

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