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Pizza Wars Part I: Homemade Pan Pizza

December 19, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

homemade pan pizza

Homemade pan pizza is easy!

Second only to the long-running debate Mr. P and I have about about who loves the other more, the debate about thin vs. thick homemade pizza is a common one in our home. I like many things about living on the east coast: the people are rough around the edges but loyal and sincere, there is mass transit, great culture, and rolling hills and valleys. Here on the east coast, pizza is eaten in thin, big, floppy slices that are folded in half lengthwise to make a kind of pizza taco. Rob is a Philly native and prefers his pizza thin.

But, when I think back to my Midwestern upbringing, I find myself missing two major things: the wonderful city of Chicago and its thick crust pizza that’s perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.

We love pizza in our house and we make our own from scratch several times a month. One thing you figure out quickly when you master homemade pizza is that ordering takeout pizza is never, ever a good value.

Let’s face it, most of the chain pizza places turn out pies with flavorless crust, anemic sauces full of mystery ingredients, and skimpy toppings. Homemade pizza with an abundance of fresh toppings can easily rival pies from the best pizzerias at a fraction of the price. And, making pizza is a wonderful way to get together in the kitchen to assemble your pies while singing to “O Sole Mia” and drinking  glasses of fine Chianti.

homemade pan pizza

Shaggy dough, before kneading

When I recently discovered the recipe for homemade pan pizza dough in the October 2014 issue of Bon Appetit magazine, I was positively giddy that I could experience Chicago-style pizza at home without ordering Lou Malnati’s online and having it delivered to our door packed in dry ice. In New York, they call pan pizza that’s cut into squares “Grandma Pizza” but it’s close enough to Chicago pizza to satisfy this east coast transplant.

Mr. P and I agree that there is room in our lives for both types of pizza because each one has its pros and cons. Homemade pan pizza is better than thin pizza for feeding a crowd. It’s filling, you don’t need to make multiple pies, and you don’t need a pizza stone. However, because the dough requires a slow, overnight rise to ensure a perfectly chewy crust, you need to plan accordingly so the dough is ready when you are.

homemade pan pizza

Smooth dough ball, after kneading

Pan Pizza Dough (makes enough for one pie, serves about 6)


2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast, or one packet

2 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for the bowl

2 tsp. Kosher salt

4 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading surface

homemade pan pizza

Stretching the dough to fit the pan

Step one:

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast, or one packet

Combine yeast and 1 1/2 cups of warm (105-110°) in a large bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes, until mixture is bubbly.

homemade pan pizza

Ready for toppings!

Step two:

2 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for the bowl

2 tsp. Kosher salt

4 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading surface

homemade pan pizza

Ready to bake

To the yeast mixture, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, the salt, and 2 cups of flour. Add remaining 2 cups of flour, one at a time, mixing until incorporated and a shaggy, sticky dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes. The dough should now be smooth, soft, and elastic. Form a ball with the dough and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 24 hours.

 Step three:

Take dough out of the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coat an 18×13″ rimmed baking sheet with 1/2 cup of olive oil. Remove dough from the bowl and gently stretch and pull the dough to fit the pan. Go slowly with this process and be patient. The dough will want to keep springing back, but you can let it rest a couple of times before proceeding to make it a little easier. Once the dough is stretched to fit the pan, gently press it into the corners and sides of the pan to help it stay put.

Cover the entire sheet pan with the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to sit in a warm place for about 40 minutes before topping and baking.

homemade pan pizzaI like to go halfsies with this pizza, using a chunky tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella on one side and a marinated Tuscan kale with dollops of whole milk ricotta cheese on the other. It’s best to sprinkle on the cheese prior to adding sauce of any kind. This will help keep the crust from getting soggy.

However you prefer to top your pie, bake it at 525° for about 25-30 minutes until top is golden brown and bottom is crisp. We have found that slightly overcooking this pizza is preferable to undercooking because the top may look done, but the crust will be a little too soft, particularly in the center. So, err on the side of cooking a little longer if you’re in doubt.

Stay tuned for Pizza Wars Part II when I’ll reveal Mr. President’s secrets to the best thin and crispy trattoria-style homemade pizza ever.






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Category: Food, General, Main Dishes, Recipes, Winter

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