If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably saw bits and pieces of our Charleston vacation last week. We had a really lovely time exploring the city, working on our awkward tan lines, and boogie boarding until our tummies were scratched and our appetites were roaring. You probably also know we ate very, very well last week. I had my fill of fresh seafood, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (less than a football field away from our condo…dan-ger-ous!), hushpuppies, and sweet tea.
It was absolutely wonderful. Just what a vacation should be. But after a week of eating out, all I wanted to do was drag out the cutting board and chop something. I wanted to knead dough, hold a knife strong in my hands, smell the fresh herbs plucked straight from the garden.
While we were in Charleston, we found a great little deli that offers all sorts of specialty meats and cheeses. Have I mentioned before that we are total suckers for fancy meats and cheeses? What can I say? I like my cold cuts gourmet. Just that kind of lady.
Anyway, while we were there, we tried some of their prosciutto and fell instantly in love. Sliced papery thin, it was an absolutely perfect savory, bacon-y but better (yes I said better!!) treat.
Needless to say, we came home with a pound of it tucked snugly in our cooler between dozens of frozen Capri Suns. That’s the way we roll, people. Classy stuff.
So, on my maiden voyage back to the kitchen, I was left with piles of prosciutto, some leftover goat cheese, fresh basil from the garden, and a mad desire to knead some dough.
There was only one thing that could happen: pizza. And stat.
There’s really no way this pizza could have turned out bad. I mean, you could put roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and prosciutto on a shoe and it would taste good.
But this pizza was more than just good. It was great. And I have two things (and people) to thank for that.
First, the dough. I’ve long been a fan of this pizza dough and have used it religiously for homemade pizzas for over two years now. But I’ve been wanting to experiment lately, so when I found this recipe on How Sweet It Is that used a combination of all purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, and honey, I knew I had to try it.
Whoa, am I ever glad I did! The hubby described this as “the way pizza crust should taste.” It was chewy and yeasty, but didn’t taste like straight up bread. It puffed up beautifully in the oven and was just the right amount of salt and sweetness. It will now be my go to pizza crust. Thank you Jessica!
Second thing that puts this over the top? The method. A few months ago, Bev of Bev Cooks shared a method for cooking pizzas in a cast iron skillet…in under 3 minutes. What the whaaat?
That’s right, you slip the pizzas into a piping hot skillet then put them directly under the broiler for 3 minutes. Bippity bam! You’ve got yourself some puffy, golden, bubbly pizza.
I don’t have a pizza peel, so this method was a teensy bit difficult to maneuver. Alright, let’s be honest, the first pizza totally folded over onto itself and I ended up scalding half the toppings to the bottom of the pan. Whatevs.
Here’s what ended up working for me. First, I used a 6 inch skillet and made individual sized pizzas. This is great because each person can make their own special pizza. It’s also great because it’s much easier to slide a smaller sized pizza into the skillet without catastrophe.
Second, I shaped my pizza on the backside of a cookie sheet that was heavily dusted in a mixture of cornmeal and flour. Note the word heavily. Seriously, don’t be afraid here. This is crucial for easy sliding!
Third, have an oven mitt ready for the sliding transfer and the transfer from stove top to burner. Things move quickly, and the handles of cast iron skillets are not made to resist heat. In other words, they’re freaking hot! Do not touch!
This crust makes enough for 2 large 12 inch pizzas or 4 individual 6 inchers.
The result is a puffy, perfectly browned pizza with a crust similar to what you might get in a brick fired oven. It’s not quite there, but about as close as you’re going to get without actually building a brick oven in the middle of your kitchen. The bottom gets that perfect crispy, slightly charred flavor. It’s perfect.
I adore this combo of slightly sweet roasted red pepper, creamy goat cheese, and crispy prosciutto, but feel free to experiment. That’s the joy of homemade pizzas!
For the crust:
- 1 1/8 cups warm water
- 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Your favorite tomato sauce
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Crumbled goat cheese
- A few slices prosciutto
- Jarred Roasted Red Pepper, sliced
- Fresh basil and/or rosemary, torn
For the pizza:
- Once the dough has doubled, punch it down then turn it out onto a well floured surface. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. (or two or three, depending on the size skillet you're using. You can also freeze half the dough for later use).
- Place a cast iron skillet (or several, if you have them) on the stove top and turn the burner to high heat. If it gets too smoky, turn it down a bit, but you want it to be really hot.
- Place an oven rack as close to the broiler as possible so that the cast iron pan will still slide underneath. Preheat the broiler to high.
- Cover a pizza peel or baking sheet (without rims!!) with a mixture of flour and cornmeal. Place dough ball on top of the flour/cornmeal mixture. Roll out each dough ball to be slightly smaller than the size of your skillet and top with toppings of choice. For mine, I put a good layer of pizza sauce, a layer of mozzarella cheese, sliced roasted red pepper, a slice or two of prosciutto, and crumbles of goat cheese.
- Now for the tricky part. Slide a floured spatula under the dough. Place your peel or baking sheet beside the skillet and slide the pizza into the skillet. This is much easier if you have a buddy who can hold the baking sheet while you slide the pizza. I highly recommend buddies. This takes some practice, so don't be worried if the pizza gets a little misshapen or toppings fall off. It'll happen. It'll still be delicious.
- Leave the pizza on the stovetop for about 30 seconds then remove and place directly under the broiler. Leave it there for 1 minute then turn it 180 degrees and leave it for another 1-2 minutes. Once it's browned and bubbly, remove from oven. Leave it in the skillet for a minute or two, then use a spatula to slip it out and serve.
Crust from How Sweet It Is; Method from Bev Cooks, Toppings from Neighborfood