The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Delicious pizza is so easy to make.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

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.

The result:



dosco's picture

David Esq.:
Looks tasty.

I worked at a pizza shop in upstate NY for a bit after college. I learned quite a bit ... my method for homemade pizza:

1. Install pizza stone in oven, preheat to 550dF

2. Grease a pizza baking pan (I have 2 that are about 14" diameter)

3. Stretch dough on pizza pan

4. Apply sauce, cheese, and other toppings as desired

5. Put pizza (on baking pan) in the oven on the stone

6. After about 3 to 5 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, and gently slide the partially cooked pizza off of the pan and on to a pizza peel. The crust has to be firm/cooked enough to hold its shape during this step. Use a pancake flipper or similar implement to assist in moving the pizza to the peel

7. Quickly put the pizza in the oven and directly on the pizza stone

8. Cook until the cheese is browned to your liking, and the bottom of the crust is also browned to your liking


(side note ... when I worked at the pizza shop the oven ran at something like 680dF ... I think this makes a big difference but it is unfortunate that our home ovens cannot get that hot).






David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

It was tasty and had a nice chew factor.  I've had the best luck putting the dough on a hot surface first but know it can be done the other way too.

embth's picture

If I plan to top a pizza heavily, I spread the dough onto a cornmeal sprinkled piece of parchment paper, add toppings, and slide it onto the hot pizza stone.  Then, when the crust has set, I lift the pizza just a bit with my peel and pull the paper out to finish baking directly on the stone.   If the pizza is lighter in toppings, just build it a peel or sheet pan dusted with some flour, cornmeal or rice flour,  and slide it directly onto the stone….no parchment needed.  Using the parchment paper seems easier to me than trying to get a heavily topped, half baked pizza off a pan.

Soon, when the snow is gone, I will fire up my outdoor masonry oven for pizzas that are done in 2 or 3 minutes.   No parchment goes in the outdoor oven, of course, because of the high temperatures.

golgi70's picture

And pizza without a bit of char to it just ain't all that good in my world.  So from the look of it you got it just right.  Not overcooked at all.

i too am from NY (Westchester) and grew up eating great pizza but then I found the old world pizza coming on strong in my home town.  One place was a great italian restaurant and pizza shop specializing in the burnished thin crust pizza and did not make the standard NY Pizza.  It was a revelation.  Sure classic NY pizza is great but the old world Italian pizza is even better.  That restaurant was opened and to be a gift to the daughter when she graduated from school but she didn't want it so it was sold and went downhill fast.  Then I started Culinary School at the FCI which was around the corner from Lombardi's and there it was again.  So good.  Your pizza looks like theirs so it must be darn good.  Sorry to rant but there are few things I miss dearly from home.  Pizza bagels and delis are at the top of the list with family.  

Buy the way I love that market in Grand Central and there are two good bread bakeries in there if I recall correctly.  Ever look at the prices of that coffee stand?  some coffee for like $80/lb.  Insane.  I enjoy it for its window shopping mostly.  

Fine pizza making sir


David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

It was a great pie. I only meant that I charred the top when par-baking. Was fine covering with the tomatoes and cheese. 

dabrownman's picture

crust on an 550 F pizza stone but only for 3 minutes maximum and no broiler required later, but our crust is thinner than yours and the the sauce takes about 4 hours to make and then has to sit overnight in the fridge with the dough to get some character - or the girls have a fit and threaten to take away my baking toys, put me in the dog hose and make me sleep on the couch :-)

I wish we could just make a fresh sauce of a can of fire roasted tomatoes, garlic cloves, half an onion, red chili flakes, some Italian seasoning with extra oregano and just buzz it up in the food processor - done. 

Your pizza looks great and has to be tasty too.  Well done and Happy Baking.  Lucy sees a mill in your future.......   

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Sauce is not too difficult. But when I get home at 7 and can't get to the kitchen until 8, that sometimes means just the can!

chouette22's picture

And I found out, from your post, about the screw on plastic lids one can use for mason jars - I had no idea these existed. Shall buy them ASAP, so practical! Thanks for the tip!

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

They are handy for things that you do not need to be water tight. To get them  water tight you need to use a canning lid as well.  But, for things like baby formula in he fridge and my starter, they are perfect.