An article in Cook’s Illustrated discussed the virtues of making a pizza in a cast iron frying pan, and indeed, it did turn out very well. There were three things which were unusual about this approach:
- A long fermentation including the final 1.5 hours in the cast iron pan.
- A border of cheese on the edge of the pizza to get browned.
- A heavily oiled pan so that the dough fried on the bottom as well as baked.
The result of these three steps was a very light and airy crust with a browned bottom and toasted cheese on the edges. Very tasty.
I modified the original idea a bit using a bit less cheese and adding anchovies and black olives. This made 4 servings with a salad.
11 oz. bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. yeast
1 cup warm water
½ cup pizza sauce
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 oz. provolone or Monterey jack cheese
6 oz. grated whole-milk low moisture mozzarella
Toppings of choice such as anchovy and Kalamata olives.
Make the dough the night before. Mix together the bread flour, salt, yeast, and water into a smooth but sticky dough. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray and place the dough in the pie pan. With greased fingers, push it into a disk covering most of the bottom of the pan. Coat the top of the dough with cooking spray. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and rest it in the refrigerator overnight.
Two hours before baking, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow it to warm to room temperature for ½ hour. Coat the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron frying pan with olive oil and add the dough to the pan. With oiled fingers, press the dough out to near the edges of the frying pan. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1-1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Dot the top of the risen dough with the pizza sauce. Sprinkle the edge of the dough with the provolone or Monterey Jack cheese, including going up the side of the pan. Top the rest of the dough with the mozzarella. Top the pizza with other ingredients if desired.
Bake for 25 minutes and remove to the stove top. Rest for 3 minutes and then using a spatula carefully check underneath to see how browned the crust is. If not browned enough, turn the stove burner to medium and cook the bottom another 3-5 minutes, monitoring it to make sure it does not burn. When browned sufficiently, use two spatulas to move the pizza from the pan to a wire rack. Cool for 10 minutes and then serve.