Making pizza at home is gratifying, and it almost always tastes better than what you can get from delivery. But achieving a pizza with a crisp crust in the home oven also can be a real challenge.
You need to stretch the dough carefully, preheat a heavy baking stone, and then swiftly slide the topped dough round into a hot oven, making sure the pizza maintains its shape.
In searching for a foolproof method for cooking pizza whenever the mood struck, we found that making truly great pizza is a breeze in a skillet. Our dough came together quickly in the food processor; after we let it rise, we rolled it thin and then transferred it to a cool oiled skillet, where we topped it with a fast no-cook sauce and slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.
We placed the skillet over a hot burner to get it good and hot and to set the bottom of the crust. Once the crust began to brown, we simply slid the skillet into a 500-F oven. In the oven, the hot skillet functioned like a pizza stone, crisping up our crust in just minutes and melting the cheese.
We’ve featured a Margherita pizza topping here, adorning the sauce and cheese with just a sprinkle of basil. But if you’d like a more substantial topping for your pizza, feel free to sprinkle pepperoni, sauteed mushrooms, or browned sausage over the cheese before baking; just be sure to keep the toppings light or they may weigh down the thin crust and make it soggy.
The sauce will yield more than is needed in the recipe; extra sauce can be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for up to one month.
Servings: 8 (Makes two 11-inch pizzas)
Start to finish: 2 3/4 to 3 1/4 hours (Rising time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours)
2 cups (11 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
1 1/8 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (6 ounces) ice water
Sauce and Toppings:
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick and patted dry with paper towels
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
For the dough: Pulse flour, yeast, and salt in food processor until combined, about 5 pulses. With processor running, add oil, then water, and process until rough ball forms, 30 to 40 seconds. Let dough rest for 2 minutes, then process for 30 seconds longer.
Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Unrisen dough can be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping)
For the sauce and toppings: Process tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper in clean, dry workbowl until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to 2-cup liquid measuring cup and add reserved tomato juice until sauce measures 2 cups. Reserve 1 cup sauce; set aside remaining sauce for another use.
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 500 F. Grease 12-inch oven-safe skillet with 2 tablespoons oil.
Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, divide in half, and cover loosely with greased plastic. Press and roll 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece covered) into 11-inch round of even thickness.
Transfer dough to prepared skillet and reshape as needed. Spread 1/2 cup sauce over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border around edge. Top with half of mozzarella.
Set skillet over high heat and cook until outside edge of dough is set, pizza is lightly puffed, and bottom of crust looks spotty brown when gently lifted with spatula, about 3 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven and bake pizza until edges are brown and cheese is melted and spotty brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Using potholders, remove skillet from oven and slide pizza onto wire rack; let cool slightly. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon basil, cut into wedges, and serve. Being careful of hot skillet, repeat with remaining oil, dough, 1/2 cup sauce, remaining mozzarella, and basil