Before the advent of pizza stones, pizza ovens and pizza peels, I used to make frying-pan pizzas for my kids. Now skillet pizzas have become part of the pandemic bread-making trend. Fortunately, it’s easy: All you need is pizza dough. A recipe is below, but store-bought is fine.
There are two different styles of pan pizza. The easy one, the thin-crust frying-pan version, and the breadier Detroit-style pizza, which is having a renaissance. The Detroit-style is a deep-dish pizza with cheese as the base layer and ingredients piled on top. It is not as crisp as the thin crust; the dough is more like a focaccia. Descendant in Toronto, High Dough in Edmonton and AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint in Vancouver are the go-tos for this style.
My easy food-processor dough is yeasty and light and makes a fabulous thin-crust pizza, as well the base of the Detroit-style. The dough comes together well in a food processor. Alternatively, use the dough hook of your stand mixer and beat for five minutes. Make by hand, too, if you love to knead. This should make four approximately nine-inch pizzas.
Mix together 1 cup warm water, 2 tsp active dry yeast and 1 tsp sugar in a bowl. Let stand for five minutes or until frothy. In a food processor, combine 2½ cups flour with 1 tsp salt. With the machine running, pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and process until well-combined. Continue to process for two minutes or until the dough is slightly soft and sticky.
Remove from the processor and knead on a well-floured board for about two minutes, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl, flipping it over so all dough is coated in oil. Cover and let sit in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
Punch the dough down and divide into four balls. Roll out each ball on a floured board into a nine-inch circle or spread dough with your fingers. It is more uneven, but extremely easy to do. If you find the dough does not stretch enough, chill it for 10 minutes and keep patting out.
Oil the frying pan and transfer one dough to the skillet. Top with a marinara sauce, either homemade or store-bought. Add whatever toppings you choose and bake for 10 to 15 minutes on the bottom rack of a 450 F oven or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.
Use the same dough for Detroit-style deep-dish pizza, which was traditionally baked in a large blue steel rectangular pan reminiscent of the steel used for building cars. If you do not have one, use two oiled eight-inch cake pans. Pat half the dough from the above recipe into each oiled pan. Chill it if it won’t stretch enough. Then keep pulling it with your fingers. Try to bring it up the side a little.
Brick is the traditional cheese for this pizza, cut into small cubes. Mozzarella can be used, but it is not as good. Top with a tomato sauce and whatever add-ins you like. Bake at 500 F on the lower shelf of the oven or until sauce bubbles and cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
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