Delicious pizza is so easy to make.
I live in New York, and I have a pretty good selection of fine pizzerias from which I can get pizza. The same can pretty much be said for having a good selection of fine breads. In fact, every day, I walk through Grand Central Station and pass by a market that has some very good loaves at reasonable prices (unlike everything else in that market.)
That said, I wanted to make my own bread, and with my own bread came the desire to make my own pizza. Fortunately, among the first books I picked up was Tartine Bread. I say "fortunately," because the Basic Country Loaf that forms the foundation of the book, is also recommended for pizza dough. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! In Tartine Bread, Chad Robertson recommends the use of the Lodge Combo Cooker, a cast iron set of frying pans, one deep, the other shallow, which works perfectly for making the Basic Country Loaf. Once I had that bread down, I decided to buy a Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan, based on the reviews I had seen.
Now, there are those who make better pizza then I. I've seen the photographic evidence of it. They also make better bread than I. But, I am happy to say that I have been making a lot of very fine pizza in addition to a lot of very fine bread. I have found the Super Peel to be a pretty good aid in getting pizza dough onto a hot pan, whether it is the cast iron combo cooker or the cast iron pizza pan. (I heat both to 500 degrees, and find the Extra Long Oven Gloves to be great for handling the hot cast iron.
By now, I am seeing that I have spent a boat load of money buying bread baking stuff, but it all pales in comparison to the grain mill I am still waiting to pull the trigger on...
Anyhow, my usual process is to drain a can of crushed tomatoes (lately, I have been using and preferring organic fire roasted crushed tomatoes), saute some chopped onions in olive oil, mix in the crushed tomatoes and divide it into 1/2 pint wide-mouth mason jars. Incidentally, this is what I store my starter in as well. I use a screw on plastic lid but don't screw it down tight.
Typically, I have been sauteing chopped onions and then adding a can of crushed tomatoes to make the sauce. I also keep my chopped onions in one of the jars as well, but use the standard rings to keep them sealed tight. This keeps the onion odor out of the fridge and lets me store onions all week for use whenever I need them.
On Saturday, I made some dough and let one pizza's worth sit in the fridge until Tuesday evening. When I went to make the pizza I realized that I did not have any of my sauce made, and I did not want to dirty a pan, so I opened up the can of crushed tomatoes, poured it into a colander to let the water drain out cooked my pizza dough.
The process is as follows: I put the lodge pizza pan in the oven and heat it to 500 degrees. I take the pan out of the oven, drizzle olive oil on the pan (which lets the dough brown better in my experience) and then use my peal to put the pizza dough on the smoking hot pizza pan for a 5 minute bake. Once the dough is set and maybe a little browned (in this instance, I actually overcooked the dough since it was very thin in the middle and it became crisp like a cracker....turned out delicious), I add the sauce (1/2 pint jar is enough sauce for the whole pie) and top it with sliced mozzarella, at which point I return it to the oven for a few minutes, and once the cheese is all melted, I take it out, sprinkle some fresh Basil leaves on top and return to the top rack of my oven where I put the broiler on High and broil for a few minutes until the cheese just starts to brown.