A staple in our diet at home is pizza. Ever since Miracle and I got together there has been pizza—from the Eucharist-thin Dayton-style pizzas to the deep dishes, to ones I once made on English muffins. For the last seven months we have lived around the corner from two pizza places—one with the aforementioned Dayton-style and the other from the floppy saucy slice New York-style school (which we prefer). So the idea of setting out for an entire year without the ability to make our own pizza might have been one of the more daunting aspects of our plan. With only a two-burner cooktop, I needed to know: can I make a pizza on a gas stove?
The answer is yes.
Per my usual, I turned to the trusty cast iron pan as my sole cooking vessel. You’ll want a good, fast-rising dough.
For the dough:
- 1 ¼ cup flour
- 1 packet of yeast
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- ½ cup warm water
- Pinch of salt
- Olive oil
- Any spices you want
- A few spoonfuls of grated parmesan cheese
Put about half of the flour in a bowl (or even the cast iron pan) with the yeast, sugar, salt and spices (I like oregano and garlic powder). Add in water and oil and stir. Slowly add the rest of the flour. You’ll be done mixing when the dough starts pulling off the pan and gets elasticy. Coat the ball of dough in oil.
Here’s where the stovetop part gets interesting. You’ll want the dough to rise and you’ll also want to avoid extra dirty dishes and messy cleanup. So turn the stove on low and heat the pan. Add a touch more oil so the pan soaks it all up and it gets warm. Now coat the ball of dough with grated parmesan. Turn off the heat and cover with aluminum foil for about 30 minutes.
While the dough is rising, let me tell you about the most wonderful pizza topping combination ever invented. We totally ripped it off Dayton’s own Old Scratch Pizza (which is not Dayton-style, but rather more New York). Their version is called “The Angry Beekeeper” and it is hands-down one of the best pizzas you can get: a rich tomato sauce, actual mozzarella, fresh basil, salami, and—this is the kicker—a spicy honey drizzle.
I make my own sauce using a can of plain tomato sauce and seasoning to taste with fresh garlic, dried oregano, a little dried basil. And I tend to use higher-grade pepperoni (AKA not Hormel).
By the time the dough has risen, you can smash it down into the pan. The beauty of this recipe is that the parmesan and oil will make a crispy outside crust, which means easy clean-up for your pan (no scouring!) as well as a fluffy middle of the crust. As soon as the dough is smashed down, turn on that burner to about medium. Slop the sauce on there. Add the cheese and pepperoni and cover with foil. Let it cook on medium for about seven minutes. Remember, right now the goal is to make the outer crust crispy. You can periodically check by using a spatula to pry up the edge of the crust. Once the edge starts crisping up, turn down the heat and let it cook more thoroughly. On a stove, this will take time. Leave the pan covered and let the heat do its thing for about another 20 minutes.
As the crust puffs up and looks like it is on its way to being done (and those mozzarella balls are no longer spherical), add the fresh basil. Why wait so long for the basil? Because you want it to wilt, not become completely dried. Wilted basil has a much better, robust flavor than wizened basil. Let that pizza continue to cook for a few more minutes. At this point I sometimes let the foil sit loosely on the top so the pizza doesn’t get too soggy. Just before serving, drizzle that pie with what you consider an acceptable amount of spicy honey. Slice and enjoy, my friends.