The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Quick and easy pan pizza - Cast Iron skillet

AndyPanda's picture
AndyPanda

Quick and easy pan pizza - Cast Iron skillet

I had posted here, years ago, about using an oven steel to make pizza.  And I do still prefer that style of pizza - but the drawback to the oven steel is that you need to heat the oven for at least an hour before you put a pizza in. 

This past week, I've been making pizza in a cast iron skillet where it cooks on the stove-top for 7 minutes and then under the broiler for 4 minutes to brown the top.  Instead of having a normal, puffed up pizza edge -- this method has the sauce and cheese and toppings going right to the edge where they get caramelized by the cast iron pan. 

The advantages to this method is you don't need to preheat and you don't need a pizza peel - after shaping the dough into a round, same as you would for a normal pizza, you put the dough into a room temp, olive oiled, cast iron skillet and let it rise for 30-40 minutes in the skillet (just until it has risen a bit - it isn't going to "oven spring" so you need to let it rise before starting the heat).  Then Medium flame on the stove-top for about 7 minutes (start the broiler heating at same time you start the stove-top heat).  You spread on the sauce and cheeses and toppings as the bottom is browning - then under the broiler for 4 minutes to melt and brown the cheese and toppings.  

Another advantage of this method is that I sprinkle some herbs and salt onto the pan before adding the dough - so the bottom of the crust has a bit of seasoning.  Pretty interesting approach, I thought, and really tasty for very little effort.

You will need to use a knife to release the edges - at least on my cast iron pan - but once the edges are free the bottom doesn't stick at all.  My cast iron is well seasoned on the bottom but the sides are not.

If you time it right (your stove flame may be different than mine) the bottom should be very brown and leopard spotted but not burnt.  For me that's 7 minutes on my largest burner set to medium flame.

 

Tom M's picture
Tom M

Thanks for contributing this, Andy.  I must try it!

—Tom

MontBaybaker's picture
MontBaybaker

can't wait to try it.  Sent the link to my son-in-law who likes to make pizza with sourdough crust.  Happy Thanksgiving!  

Karen

Benito's picture
Benito

Interesting idea, I use my cast iron skillet all the time for pizza but never with this method.  The resulting pizza looks delicious.

Benny

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I've been researching this on youtube. 

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=cast+iron+pan+pizza

turns up some good ones. The ones by Ragusea, Test Kitchen, and Babish look good.

 

AndyPanda's picture
AndyPanda

Here's the dough recipe I've been using - this makes 5-6 pizzas - though I'm still experimenting to figure out how thick to make the crust in the pan.  I've found that too thin doesn't work well in the pan -- it gets soggy from the sauce.  And I'm still experimenting on how much to let it rise before turning on the heat - I'm finding I really need to let it rise quite a bit since there won't be any oven spring.

flour   600g
salt      16g
yeast      4g   (dry instant active)
water   450g  

That doesn't sound like much yeast but it works really well for me.  I like to let my dough rise in the fridge for 3-4 days but I can never wait that long to get started.  So I usually make a pizza on day 1 and again on day 2 and again on day 3 and so on and it's pretty delicious every day but I find day 4 is when the crust has the best flavor.

QUESTION: how do you guys feel about olive oil in your dough?  How about sugar?  I find I like it best with neither of those.  Though I do put olive oil on the pan before I put the dough in the pan (and olive oil on my fingers as I'm getting the shaped dough into the pan).     But I got in the habit of no oil or sugar because of using the oven steel and very high heat (90-120 second baking time - very fast) where the oil would burn.   This pan pizza is baked much slower and lower heat so maybe the oil and sugar would be a good thing?

 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

It depends on the style of crust you're aiming for.  

For Neopolitan style, thin, then sugar, oil and milk are left out.

For (Pizza Hut style) "pan", Detroit (kinda "deep dish") , Grandma style, or Sicilian/Roman style, then various combos of sugar/oil/milk are used to make it thicker, fluffier, and alter the consistency of the crumb.

Reinhart's "Perfect Pan Pizza" in Kindle format is selling for $5.99, which is a good price, although it is sometimes priced even lower, https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Pan-Pizza-Sicilian-Focaccia-ebook/dp/B07GMXFC8F?tag=froglallabout-20

This looks like a good Detroit Style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSe1W_jsRG8

and here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhMhYKSMWIY

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I have yet to find a pizza crust, that when cooked properly, I didn't love.

Having said that:

  • I am not a fan of overly sweet pizza crusts, lots of the American delivery pizza crust is that way. But, a little sweetness that is barely noticeable is often a nice addition.
  • With whole wheat pizza doughs, I find that the addition of oil often makes it easier when it comes time to shape the dough.

you wrote:

"But I got in the habit of no oil or sugar because of using the oven steel and very high heat (90-120 second baking time - very fast) where the oil would burn."

Do you have a pizza oven or something? Because I can't properly cook a pizza in 90-120 seconds with my pizza stone... even if the pizza is really thin, the fastest I can cook a pizza is in about 3 or 4 minutes. My oven maxes out at 550dF, I usually use convection because it seems to cook 10% faster with the convection fan running.

 

AndyPanda's picture
AndyPanda

I don't have a pizza oven.  I wrote about this a few years ago in a post here somewhere.   I have a regular oven (dual fuel - gas stove-top, electric oven) but I use a thick steel rather than a pizza stone.  With the steel, it absorbs the heat and delivers it really quickly to the pizza and gives a very similar effect to a pizza oven but you have to do some trickery.  (Please Note: the steel will deliver heat much faster than a stone - a 550-600F steel is like an 800-850F stone - too hot with the steel will burn the bottom in seconds)

My oven has a temp sensor probe that sticks out into the top of the oven.  My oven only gets to 550F which works pretty well with the steel if you preheat for at least an hour or more so the steel really is up to temp.  The problem (with my oven) is once it's that hot, the broiler will not come on.  SO I trick my temp sensor so that the broiler will come on to simulate the wood fired pizza oven hot air above the pizza.

I take some old cotton t-shirt material and soak it in water and wrap it around a wooden dowel or pencil (to give it a hollow center so it can slide over the temp probe in my oven).  Then I wrap that in aluminum foil and freeze it.   Once my oven has preheated and the pizza steel (1/2" of steel plate) is fully heated, I slide the frozen gizmo over my temp probe (very careful not to burn myself - it's hot in there) and the heat comes back on.  I have a K-type thermocouple thermometer that I use to tell when the oven temp is up to 600F - then I switch to broiler to get the air in the top of the oven good and hot and I start dressing my pizza dough on the peel.  Then I switch to convection (the broiler is still glowing red hot and the convection fan moves that hot air around) just as I'm sliding the pizza onto the hot steel.

If I time everything right, the pizza will start puffing up just like in a brick pizza oven and the red hot broiler coils will brown the top (the air above the pizza is around 650F at this point and the steel underneath the pizza is still at the 550F from the hour+ preheat.

It's pretty amazing to see the pizza cook up that way but, especially since Covid and I'm cooking for myself only, it seems really wasteful to use all that preheat energy to make one small pizza for myself.   That's why I've really been happy with this no-preheat method using the cast iron skillet. 

Hope that all made sense!

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Clever. Very clever.

I too get frustrated by how much energy gets wasted preheating ovens. Lucky for me, we have 6 kids, so we end up baking 1 pizza for each person, takes about 2 hours to get them all done. I try to give the oven and stone about 10 minutes to recover the temp between pizzas.

I really want a pizza oven. Where we live, we have copious amounts of oak, so I would love to build a wood fired pizza oven. Bucket list thing.

HansB's picture
HansB

I always point newbies to this recipe. I still use it myself once in a while.

https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/01/foolproof-pan-pizza-recipe.html