Cast Iron Margherita Pizza, aka possibly the best thing I’ve made this quaratine so far. Sorry for holding out on you until now!
And yup, it is another Kenji Lopez-Alt recipe that I absolutely love. (Anyone else adore this guy? His recipes are so so good!)
This pizza recipe couldn’t be easier, although does take a little planning in advance. Because homemade pizza dough!
But, before you say “nah I don’t want to fuss” and go grab the pre-made stuff, hear me out. The crust is what makes this recipe. Seriously. It is worth it.
It’s a no knead dough, which is no knonsense (I might be losing it), so you just mix in the morning, and set it and forget it until evening. The resting period lets the gluten do it’s work and develop on its own without you breaking a sweat. Effortless, and foolproof. Aka, the best way to have carbs.
For the ingredients, I highly recommend using bread flour for this one, not all-purpose, but you can substitute in a pinch.
What’s the difference in the flours? Bread flour has a higher protein percentage than all-purpose, meaning that it will have a better texture (yay extra chew!) and be more prone to rising higher when you bake your recipes.
The pizza toppings that include are just simple tomato sauce, low moisture mozzarella, and basil. But the toppings can really be substituted for any ingredients you prefer. This pizza, of course, is a classic Margherita style. We also love mushroom and sausage at our house, and have tested it out with this recipe and it works beautifully. But for the purposes of this post I’m sticking to the classic.
Another thing we should discuss is tomato sauce. I am embarrassed to admit that it took me until quarantine to discover the wonderful product Raos All-Purpose Marinara (<– affiliate link, but am not paid by Raos) but find it I did, and I’m now using it on everything.
For any people who appreciate trivia, apparently Raos got their start as a quite exclusive/famous NYC restaurant, and has since expanded to other cities around the country, and also began packaging their sauce. Anyway, I haven’t been to the restaurant, so all I know is that this sauce is bomb and it is my new favorite from a can pasta sauce and pizza sauce topping. I’d be super intrigued to try the restaurant as well (if we ever can travel again…)
Okay, let’s talk finished product.
The pizza is baked at high heat in the oven with a generous amount of olive oil to create the most perfect deep-dish-esque crust. The bottom should be browned and crisp. You can check it after it comes out of the oven, and if it’s not perfect, just put it over medium heat on the stove or a minute more and this should finish it off perfectly.
The cheese melts to a fantastic stretchy and browned top, and the basil provides a sweet, herbal note that compliments the sauce and cheese perfectly. I like to top the entire thing with a sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan cheese and additional fresh basil for extra flavor.
I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this one. Because we all need a little more comfort food right now.
And above all else, pizza is comfort.
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Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Cast Iron PizzaCourse: MainCuisine: Italian, AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Makes 2 pizzas. Minimally adapted from Kenji Lopez-Alt
2 1/2 cups bread flour plus additional for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoon table salt (Kenji calls for kosher, and I only have table salt, so I reduced the quantity. His recipe calls for 2 teaspoons kosher salt).
1 teaspoon yeast (instant or active dry – they’ll both work)
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoons olive oil plus more for coating the pan
1 cup tomato sauce (I used Raos All-Purpose Marinara and highly recommend)
12 oz grated low moisture mozzarella
2 oz freshly grated Parmesan
A handful of fresh basil
- The night before, start the pizza dough. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, yeast, and water. Mix with your hand or a wooden spoon to combine. When dough comes together in a sticky glob, form it into a loose round and cover the entire bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside on the counter to rest. (Dough should rest a minimum of 8 hours, and up to 24 hours for best results).
- Flour your counter or work surface, and turn out dough. Cut dough in half, and form each piece into a ball. Technique for this is to hold the dough in 2 hands and gradually fold the dough in on itself, rotating, until an elastic ball forms. Do this for both pieces. (If only making one pizza, now is the time to wrap one ball of dough and store it in the refrigerator for later).
- Generously oil one or two cast iron skillets with olive oil. Place dough into oil, flipping dough over to ensure all sides are covered in oil. Cover again with plastic wrap and allow to “proof” for about 2 hours.
- Next, preheat your oven to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the oven is heating, stretch your dough with your fingers to fit your pans (this should not be a challenge if you have followed the proofing step).
- Smear each pizza with about 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 6 oz of shredded mozzarella, and a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves.
- Bake for about 13-15 minutes.
- Check bottom of pizza but lifting with a spatula – if the bottom of your pizza is not crispy enough, put it on the stove top over medium for about 1-3 minutes (I did an additional 1 minute and it was perfect!)
- Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and additional basil, as desired, before serving.