Crusty Skillet Pizza

I don’t do much baking. The reasons I don’t do much baking are: 1) I’m not good at baking, and 2) If I were good at baking, I am sure I would be the size of my refrigerator. My refrigerator with a head.

That said, like everyone else, occasionally I do small amounts of simple baking. For example, when 18 people will be at my house in 20 minutes to eat and I realize that I have no bread. I then frantically run around my kitchen searching for my seldom-used biscuit cutter, throw some dough together and cut some biscuits.

In the interest of all things frugal, I have lately been on a quest to make a delicious, easy pizza dough that is more frugal than those pre-made discs you buy at the store. Not a masterpiece, not one of those huge things that you can twirl above your head, but just a simple, easy, light, thin, crunchy pizza crust. The kind you can throw together when everyone is starving at 6:00 and you are desperate for something for dinner.

After much searching and experimenting, I have finally found a solution! My inspiration was found in this month’s Every Day with Rachael Ray – “Biscuit Pizza Dough.” I tried Rachael’s recipe just as is one time, but didn’t like a few things. The crust was too flaky and crumbly for pizza crust (it fell apart when I tried to eat a slice with my hands) and didn’t have a nice browned bottom.

So, I made a few changes, and voila! Easy crusty pizza crust! The two changes I made were: 1) I used bread flour and not all- purpose flour, which made the dough more sturdy, and 2) I added 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan before adding the pizza crust, which made the bottom browned and crunchy. Perfect! And, importantly, Frugal!

A cast iron or heavy bottomed 12-inch skillet is perfect for this crust – just cook over medium high heat for 3 minutes before adding sauce and toppings. (If you skip this 3-minute step, the dough won’t be crusty on the bottom.)

About 1 cup of sauce is plenty for a 12-inch pizza, then add toppings of your choice.

Transfer the skillet to the oven for finishing.

Voila! Yummy, crusty pizza that is fabulously frugal!

CRUSTY SKILLET PIZZA

Serves 3 or 4 folks

1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1/2 cup 2 percent milk

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup pizza sauce

1 cup desired toppings

1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter to small crumbs. Stir in milk until dough roughly comes together with some bits remaining separately. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead about 12 times, until all dough is in a ball.

Roll dough out to a little thicker than 1/4 inch, about 15 inches in diameter, adding just a little flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Pour oil into a 12-inch cast iron or heavy bottom skillet. Place dough in skillet, covering bottom and up sides about 1/2 inch. Cook on stovetop over medium high heat for 3 minutes.

Remove from heat. Spread sauce evenly over surface of dough. Sprinkle on toppings and cheeses. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes near top of oven, until toppings are cooked through and cheese is bubbly.

— posted by Donna

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