Foolproof Pan Pizza

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Note: Although mozzarella is standard, any good melting cheese such as cheddar, jack, or young provolone will work for this recipe. This recipe is intended to be made with dry (aged) mozzarella cheese, the yellowish variety that comes in firm blocks. Do not use fresh mozzarella, as it it too moist. If you only want to bake one pizza at a time, you can transfer 1 ball of dough to a sealed zipperlock bag or container in step 3 and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Continue with step 4 when ready to bake.

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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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Foolproof Pan Pizza

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 4 to 6 (makes two 10-inch pies)
Active time:15 minutes
Total time:8 1/2 to 24 hours
Special equipment:Digital scale with gram measurements
This recipe appears in: The Food Lab: 11 Essential Tips for Better Pizza The Pizza Lab: Foolproof Pan Pizza
Rated:

Ingredients

  • 400 grams (14 ounces, about 2 1/2 cups) bread flour
  • 10 grams (.35 ounces, about 2 teaspoons) kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 4 grams (.15 ounces, about 1/2 teaspoon) instant yeast
  • 275 grams (9.5 ounces, about 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons) water
  • 8 grams (.25 ounces, about 2 teaspoons) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to coat pans and drizzle
  • 1 1/2 cups pizza sauce, such as our New York-style pizza sauce
  • 12 ounces grated full-fat, dry mozzarella cheese (see note above)
  • Toppings as desired
  • Small handful torn fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 2 ounces grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese (optional)

Procedures

  1. 1

    Combine flour, salt, yeast, water, and oil in a large bowl. Mix with hands or a wooden spoon until no dry flour remains. The bowl should be at least 4 to 6 times to volume of the dough to account for rising.

  2. 2

    Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, making sure that edges are well-sealed, then let rest on the countertop for at least 8 hours and up to 24. Dough should rise dramatically and fill bowl.

  3. 3

    Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour, then transfer it to a well-floured work surface. Divide dough into two pieces and form each into a ball by holding it with well-floured hands and tucking the dough underneath itself, rotating it until it forms a tight ball.

  4. 4

    Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of two 10-inch cast iron skillet or round cake pans. (See note above). Place 1 ball of dough in each pan and turn to coat evenly with oil. Using a flat palm, press the dough around the pan, flattening it slightly and spreading oil around the entire bottom and edges of the pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough sit at room temperature for two hours. After the first hour, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 550°F.

  5. 5

    After two hours, dough should be mostly filling in the pan up to the edges. Use your fingertips to press it around until it fills in every corner, popping any large bubbles that appear. Lift up one edge of the dough to let any air bubbles underneath escape and repeat, moving around the dough until there are no air bubbles left underneath and the dough is evenly spread around the pan.

  6. 6

    Top each round of dough with 3/4 cup sauce, spreading the sauce with the back of a spoon into every corner. Spread evenly with mozzarella cheese, letting the cheese go all the way to the edges. Season with salt. Add other toppings as desired. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter a few basil leaves over the top (if desired)

  7. 7

    Transfer pan to oven and bak until top is golden brown and bubbly and bottom is golden brown and crisp when you lift it with a thin spatula, 12 to 15 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese. Using a thin spatula, loosen pizza and peek underneath. If bottom is not as crisp as desired, place pan over a burner and cook on medium heat, moving the pan around to cook evenly until it is crisp, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the pizzas and transfer to to a cutting board. Cut each one into six slices and serve immediately.

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