I try to keep my kitchen purchases to a minimum, but recently I splurged and bought a 16-inch cast iron pizza baking pan from Crate and Barrel. To go with it, I also bought a 16-inch crisping sheet, which has holes in it for crisping up leftover pizza and breads in the oven.
I reasoned that this pan could be preheated in the oven, much like a baking stone but without all the bother or potential for third-degree burns. That’s exactly how it works, and it makes great pizza. It’s definitely an improvement over the warped, stained cookie sheet I had been using.
I used Mark Bittman’s excellent pizza dough recipe for the crust. The only snag is that the dough makes two 12-inch pizzas and the pan is 16 inches, so some experimentation will be called for to roll out the perfect amount of dough. Leftover dough can be frozen and used to make breadsticks or rolls.
The inaugural pizza was a Pizza Margherita, which is a very simple, summery pizza that can be made on any kind of pan and even using store-bought dough. Here’s the recipe.
Yields: 1 16-inch pizza
Time to make: ~20 minutes
- unbaked pizza dough for a 16-inch pizza (see recipe)
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 fresh tomato, sliced thinly
- 6 oz. whole-milk mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly (not the kind packed in liquid)
- several basil leaves
- salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
Roll out the pizza dough to fit your pizza pan — the thinner, the better. If using a baking stone or cast-iron pan, preheat it in a 425-degree oven while preparing the pizza.
Drain the canned tomatoes. Using a blender, puree the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper until smooth. Spread the sauce out on the pizza dough.
Arrange the sliced tomatoes, slices of cheese and basil on top of the pizza. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired. Carefully transfer the pizza to the preheated pan or stone, if using. Bake 12-15 minutes, until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbly.