When the weather changes, I find that my methods for cooking change, as well. I’ve mentioned before that we live in an old Victorian house (110 years old to be exact). We do not have central air, so we make-do with our window units. When it’s a scorcher of a day, I generally avoid using the oven because the air conditioners just can’t keep up. And this happens often during our Minnesota summers. Honestly, sometimes it’s even too hot for me to stand next to a grill outside. I’m painting quite a lovely picture of the hot mess that is me during the summer, aren’t I? I’m not a fan of the heat, but I try to cope.
I love summer pizza, but since I’m unwilling to endure the added heat of firing up my pizza stone– at 500°F for thirty plus minutes– I turn to this skillet method. A pizza loaded with fresh herbs, fresh mozzarella and all of those fresh tomatoes is my thing. I used ramps, mushrooms, ricotta, and smoked mozzarella for this version, but you can use whatever you prefer. If you can get your hands on some morel mushrooms, please do that and think of me when you eat it. Please. I’m very particular about my pizza crust. If it’s not perfect, it’s not worth my time. I like a nice crunch on the outside, tender on the inside (NOT doughy), and a lovely deep flavor throughout. Over the years of making homemade pizza I learned something about myself– the longer the pizza dough hangs out it my fridge, the more I like it. So, I never make pizza dough the day I want to eat it, and rarely even the day before. I make it a few days prior and the flavor develops beautifully. The texture is spot on, as well. It’s loaded with air pockets from the yeast.
Using a cast-iron skillet works wonderfully for making pizza. Use whatever size you have. I have an old 10-inch. Coat it with olive oil and let it heat up. Then place the rolled-out dough in it. Let it cook just a bit until it has a light golden color. Add more olive oil, if necessary and flip it over. Add the toppings and cover with a lid. Cook over medium-high heat until the bottom of the crust is the color that you desire. I like mine a little on the dark side. When you get there, place the skillet (no lid) directly under the broiler for a few minutes to darken up the cheese (this will go quickly). Watch carefully, as broilers tend to be finicky. You may even need to move the pan around for even browning. Remove when pizza is a deep golden brown. The entire process takes no time at all and you’re left with a delicious pizza that has an incredible crust. Speaking of the crust– I jump back and forth from using two favorite recipes. This one, which I’ve previously blogged about and the one I’m sharing today. They are both fantastic. Whichever one you choose, just try to make it a few days in advance– it really does make a difference. I like the crust recipe I’m sharing today because it fits wonderfully into a gallon-sized ice cream bucket and because it’s ridiculously easy to mix up. Dump, stir, done. You may not use the whole thing in one sitting, but you can either use it within two weeks, or even freeze it in plastic bags. Enjoy the pizza!
The Recipe: Skillet Pizza on the Stovetop with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Smoked Mozzarella
(makes enough dough for 3-4 12-inch pizzas and will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator)
1 1/2 cups plus 4 teaspoons (about 355 grams) water heated to 100°F
1/2 tablespoon granulated yeast
3/4 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 3/4 cups (540 grams) all-purpose flour
(using a 10-inch cast-iron skillet)
3 ounces pizza dough
2 ounces smoked mozzarella, grated
1-2 ramps (or scallions) chopped
6 crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced (or Morels!)
a few dollops of ricotta cheese
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
extra-virgin olive oil
Begin a few days in advance by preparing the pizza dough. In a gallon-sized ice cream bucket (or anything of that size that has a non-airtight lid) add the heated water, yeast, salt, and olive oil. Use a Danish dough hook or a wooden spoon to mix everything together. Then add the flour and give it a really good stir using the hook to really incorporate everything. You’ll want all of the flour to be wet. The mixture will look shaggy. Cover with the lid (I use a nail to poke a tiny hole in the top of mine (this lets the gases escape when it’s refrigerated). Let it rise at room temperature for two hours. Do not ever punch this dough down. Technically, the dough could be used at this point. But, this particular dough works better when cold. And tastes a whole lot better after a night or two in the refrigerator.
When ready to make a skillet pizza, remove some dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up for a few minutes, as it is easier to work with. Dust some flour on the counter and a bit on the dough (don’t be shy with the flour). Form a ball. Roll it out to the size of your skillet (if it doesn’t roll easily, just let it rest for a few minutes). Coat the skillet with a bit of olive oil and heat it over medium-high heat. Shake off any excess flour from the pizza dough and place it in the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip it, adding more olive oil if necessary. The olive oil gives the crust a nice crunch to it. Immediately place the sliced garlic clove, a heavy drizzle of olive oil, ramps, ricotta cheese, mushroom, and smoked mozzarella on top of the pizza. Cover with a lid (to help it melt) and cook for about 5 more minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown. Then remove it from the stove and place it directly under the broiler (no lid) for a few minutes until the cheese is your desired color. Move the pan around, if necessary. Remove from the oven, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of good sea salt. Enjoy!
Pizza Dough adapted from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day
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