Crisp, olive oil-flavored crust; an open, airy, nicely chewy crumb; crispy, browned cheesy bits around the edges; and plenty of sauce and cheese. It ain't the classiest pizza on the block, but sometimes you're just looking for something cheap and easy.
Continue through the slideshow, or for full exact measurements, timings, and directions, see the recipe for Foolproof Pan Pizza here!
Step 1: Mix
This is the hardest part of the whole process: weighing out your flour (400 grams), salt (10 grams), and yeast (4 grams) into a bowl, then adding water (275 grams) and oil (8 grams) and mixing it up by hand. That's it. No need to knead, punch, massage, nothing. Just make sure there's no dry flour left, and you're good to go.
Step 2: Cover and Rest
Once the dough is mixed, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit. Go watch some TV, walk the dogs, kiss your significant other good night, or stay up into the wee hours playing video games. Your only job is to not touch the dough until the next day. At least eight hours and up to 24 is totally fine.
Step 3: Uncover
After all that doing nothing, your dough should look something like this—basically a big, puffy, lumpy-looking bowl of soup. When you uncover the plastic and knock the bowl slightly, you'll see the whole thing deflate a bit. This is A-OK.
Step 4: Pour Out
Sprinkle the top of the dough with some flour, then dump it out onto a floured work surface. It's fine to use a fair amount of flour here; just don't knead it into the dough. This should not be hard, as kneading isn't on your agenda anyway. Divide the dough into two even balls (in this case, I'm making four, as I've doubled the recipe), and set them aside.
Step 5: Oil Your Pan
Pour some olive oil into the bottom of a 10-inch cast iron skillet or a 10-inch round cake pan. If you want to bake your pizzas simultaneously, you'll need a pan or skillet for each ball of dough. Alternatively, you can store unused dough balls in sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to three days (leave room in the container for the dough to expand), or in the freezer indefinitely. Place the dough you want to bake in the middle of the pan.
Step 6: Coat With Oil
Turn the dough over a few times until it's coated on all sides with oil, then swirl it around the pan to get oil into all the corners and the sides of the pan. Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap, and let it sit in your kitchen for a couple of hours. Watch a movie, do your laundry, take your third bath of the day, you get the idea. Just leave it alone and let it do its thing.
Step 7: Unwrap Again
You should come back to find it something like this. See how nicely it behaved, stretching into the corners of the pan for you?
Step 8: Poke It
Using just the tips of your fingers, poke at the dough a bunch of times, working it into the corners a little bit harder and popping any big air bubbles you happen to come across. Those big bubbles will inflate like balloons in the oven, shedding their cheese and sauce, if you don't take care of them now.
Step 9: Lift It
Make one quick lap around the edge of the pan, lifting the dough like a blanket. This is just to make sure that no large bubbles are hiding underneath.
Step 10: Sauce It
You can use any sauce you'd like, or make your own from scratch. If you like having a rim around your pizzas, leave a little rim. I prefer going all the way to the edge with my sauce and cheese, which makes for some delicious crunchy bits later on. Thin pizza requires a thin layer of sauce. Thick pizza like this requires a thicker layer of sauce. Be liberal.
Step 11: Getting Cheesy
Spread cheese over the top of the pizza (again, going all the way to the edges, if desired). Any good melting cheese will do—mozzarella is classic, but a young cheddar, provolone, Muenster, or Jack will work. You can even go extra crazy and mix 'em up.
Step 12: Add Other Toppings
Most of the time, I say go easy on the toppings, but a pan pizza with a thick, robust crust can handle some serious loads, so go wild here. On this pie, I've got slab bacon (cut into quarter-inch strips), thick-sliced pepperoni (our winning brand for topping pizzas is Boar's Head), and pickled banana peppers.
Step 12: Bake
Drizzle the pie with more olive oil, add some torn basil leaves, season with salt, and throw it into a preheated 550°F (290°C) oven. This high temperature is necessary to give it good oven spring—the initial puff that gives it an open, airy hole structure.
Step 13: Baked
After 12 to 15 minutes, the pie will look like this. Golden brown, crisp underneath, and bubbly. I like to sprinkle it with a hard grating cheese, like Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, right as it comes out of the oven to give it an extra flavor boost. To remove it from the pan, just loosen it with a thin spatula. It should slide right out onto your cutting board.
Step 14: Eat It
Sliced and ready to eat.