When I told my husband that we’d be having pizza for dinner, he assumed we’d be ordering in some delivery. Nope, this was going to be the real deal with homemade crust and all. While I’ve made homemade pizza in the past, my dough usually comes from a bakery that does all the labour for me….I just need to let it rise, punch it down and stretch it out. Not too much hassle. But now that I’ve primed my yeast-baking skills, I figured it was time for me to branch out and bake a real pizza with real dough made from my 2 hands. Exciting times in this household!
I always thought making dough would be tough but really it’s pretty simple. Just a few repetitive steps: stir, knead, rise, punch, knead…ta-da!! I had spotted a recipe for a deep dish sausage pizza in the Gourmet Cookbook (my go-to cookbook edited by my muse, Ruth Reichl), and decided that I’d create my own sauce and toppings but definitely follow the dough recipe step by step. While I followed the directions carefully, this dough was unlike any of the bakery dough that I had used in the past. While it was much easier to work with, it certainly wasn’t as elastic and stretchy so that made me slightly fearful that I had somehow screwed up this pizza attempt. Luckily, the crust was perfect and even tastier than its bakery counterpart!
As for the toppings, I just went with what I had in the fridge. I love pineapple on pizza, but you could certainly substitute your favorite toppings to make the pizza of your dreams. Instead of mozzarella cheese, I used a farmer’s cheese recommended to me by the proprietor of my favorite local Italian deli. He not only sold me some lean pancetta, but told me that the farmer’s cheese would go great on pizza. It was perfect!
deep dish tomato, pancetta & pineapple skillet pizza
1/4 t sugar
1/2 c warm water (105° – 115°F)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/2 c flour, plus additional for dusting
1/4 c cornmeal
1/2 t salt
1 T olive oil
1 T olive oil
1/4 c chopped pancetta (or bacon)
1 small onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small can of diced tomatoes
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil
salt & pepper to taste
1 c fresh pineapple, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1½ – 2 c grated farmer’s or mozzarella cheese
1. Make the dough by stirring together the sugar, warm water and yeast in a large bowl. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until the surface appears creamy. Add flour, cornmeal, salt and oil and stir until dough forms. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Dust occasionally with flour to prevent sticking.
2. Place dough in a large oiled bowl and turn dough to coat with oil. Let rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm location until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. While dough is rising, start making the sauce.
3. In a large skillet, heat oil and fry up pancetta. If you use a fatty pancetta or bacon, you may not need oil at all. Add in onion and turn down heat slightly, letting the onions get soft and slightly caramelized. Add in garlic, tomatoes, spices and salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 500°. Oil up a cast iron skillet. Punch down dough and knead 4 times. Press dough into oiled skillet with oiled fingers until it comes 2 inches up the sides and is an even thickness on the bottom. Let dough rise in a warm place for 15 minutes, covered loosely in plastic wrap.
5. Sprinkle dough with half of the cheese then top with tomato sauce. Evenly sprinkle pineapple and green pepper on top and then cover with remaining cheese. Bake for 12 minutes and then lower oven temperature to 400° and bake for 8 minutes more or until edges of crust are golden. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before cutting.