Homemade Pan Pizza with Perfectly Crispy Crust
The process of how to make pan pizza with a perfectly crispy crust is actually quite simple to do at home! This recipe and tips will show you exactly how you can make a crispy crust pan pizza and I dare say it is better than take-out!
I haven’t met too many pieces of pizza I didn’t like. Even crappy pizza is good pizza in my book. Especially at 2 am…
Now that football season is in full swing and Mr. BB’s Sundays are devoted to obsessing over his fantasy team, he has been asking for game day food.
This week his request was for “pan pizza like the kind they make at Domino’s or Pizza Hut.” Requests like this make me just want to prove that I can do it better. Let’s just say, Mr. BB was pretty pumped with the results of this endeavor.
The crust came out slightly thick and crispy and chewy. And when we make it at home we can add toppings that those chain pizza places don’t offer, like cream cheese. Our favorite pizza topping. You definitely need to try it!
What is Pan Pizza?
Pan pizza is a pizza that is baked in a heavy metal pan, like a cast iron pan, that has high sides. The pan is typically greased heavily and because it has high sides the pizza crust is thicker and chewy in the middle while being very crispy and almost fried on the bottom.
How to Make Pan Pizza
STEP 1: GATHER YOUR INGREDIENTS (MISE EN PLACE)
Before you start making the dough for your pan pizza, measure out all of your ingredients: yeast, sugar, dry milk powder, canola or vegetable oil, warm water (105-110ºF), all purpose flour, and salt.
Dry milk powder can be easily found in the baking aisle of the grocery store. If you prefer to use regular milk you can substitute it for the water and milk powder. You just need to scald it first. I like to keep dry milk powder on hand so I can omit the scalding part, but it will work well either way.
STEP 2: HYDRATE THE YEAST AND MILK POWDER
In a large bowl, if you have a stand mixer use that bowl, Stir together the yeast, sugar, milk powder and warm water. Let the mixture sit for about 2 minutes. If it begins getting a little bubbly and frothy then you are good to go. This means the yeast is alive and feeding! Add in the oil and mix together.
Remember you want warm water (about 110ºF) but not hot water. Warm water will wake the yeast up and it will begin feeding on the sugar and growing. But if the water is too hot it can kill the yeast.
STEP 3: Knead the Dough
Add all of the flour and the salt into the mixing bowl and stir together. At this point if you have a stand mixer fit it with a dough hook and knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and cleaning the sides of the bowl.
If you do not have a stand mixer, give the dough a few turns in the bowl until it begins forming into a ball. Turn out on a clean lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
STEP 4: LET DOUGH RISE IN PANS
This dough will make enough for about 2- 12″ pizzas. You need to use either cast iron or a non-stick skillet that can go in the oven. I only had a 12″ non-stick and a 10″ cast iron skillet, so my 10″ pizza was a little thicker.
Liberally oil your two skillets with about 3 oz of oil each. I know that sounds like a lot, but this is what helps get that crispy crust. use your fingers to make sure the oil is spread all around the skillet and up the sides.
Divide the dough in half and spread out to about the width of the skillet (it doesn’t need to be completely to the edges, it will spread during rising). This dough is loose enough that you should be able to do this with your fingers, but if you find it easier you can use a rolling pin.
If the dough is springing back a lot while trying to stretch it, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it alone for about 15 minutes. The glutens will relax and it will be easier to stretch.
Cover the skillets with a lid or with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm place for at least an hour and up to 1 1/2 hours. During the last 20 minutes of rising time, preheat your oven to 500ºF.
STEP 5: TOP THE DOUGH
After the dough has risen, add your favorite toppings. Be fairly gentle when spreading the sauce out on the dough as you don’t want to deflate it.
STEP 6: JUMP-START YOUR CRISPY BOTTOM
Before you put the pizza in the oven, start it out on the stove top. This will get your skillet good and hot so that the pizza doesn’t just steam in the oven while the skillet is still heating up and it will also get the bottom of your crust going so that it is crispy. Put the skillet over high heat on the stovetop for 2 minutes.
You can’t really tell it is on the stove, but this is our sausage, onion, and cream cheese pizza getting heated on the stove before going into the oven. You can see a little steam coming out of the side there.
STEP 7: BAKE AT HIGH HEAT
Put the pizza in the 500ºF oven and bake until golden brown and crispy. This took about 15 minutes in our oven. I would suggest just keeping a fairly close eye on it. With this high of heat it can go from perfect to burnt pretty quickly. But you want the high heat to get that crispy golden crust.
Be very careful taking it out of the oven. I know from a lot of experience and learning the hard way that we forget those skillet handles are hot when the excitement of homemade pizza is on the brain. I have grabbed and have seen many people grab those skillet handles. BE CAREFUL!
STEP 8: STUFF YOUR FACE!!
I have said this many times, but one of the main reasons I hardly ever post savory food is because I am too impatient for all of the food styling and taking good photographs.
I run around the dish trying to snap a few shots while Mr. BB is standing over my shoulder trying to snatch a few pieces. It feels like this frantic frenzy of me trying to force myself to work while I’m starving and fresh hot pizza is my subject.
This is the ultimate “food blogger problem.” But I did what I could. You understand.
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder (see note for substituting regular milk)
- 1 TBSP sugar
- 1 package (0.25oz) active dry yeast or 2 1/4 tsp if measuring from bulk yeast
- 1 1/3 cup warm water (about 110ºF)
- 2 TBSP vegetable or canola oil
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 oz vegetable or canola oil for greasing the pan
- your favorite sauce
- your favorite toppings
- Put the dry milk, sugar, yeast and warm water in a large bowl and stir together. If you have a stand mixer, use that bowl. Let sit for about 2 minutes. Add the oil and stir again.
- Add the flour and the salt into the bowl and stir until it begins forming into a ball. If you are using a mixer, fit with the dough hook and knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, until a smooth dough forms and it cleans the sides of the bowl. If kneading by hand, turn out onto a clean lightly floured work surface. Knead by hand for about 10 minutes until a smooth elastic dough forms.
- Divide dough into two balls. In two 12" (or 10") nonstick or cast iron skillets, put 3 oz of oil in each making sure it is spread evenly and up the sides. Spread the dough out to about the size of the skillets using your fingers or if you need to, a rolling pin. If the dough is snapping back quite a bit, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes. Then stretch again. Place the dough in the skillets (it doesn't have to go all the way to the sides, it will grow during rise time). Cover the skillets with a lid or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour and up to an hour and a half.
- During the last 20 minutes of rise time preheat the oven to 500ºF.
- Top the dough with your favorite sauce and toppings. Place the skillets over high heat on the stovetop for about 2 minutes. This will heat up the skillet and get the bottom of the dough crispy. Place the skillets in the oven and bake until golden brown and crispy. This should take about 15 minutes, but watch it closely.
If you would like to use regular milk instead of milk powder, eliminate the dry milk and water from the recipe and substitute for 1 1/3 cups milk. Scald the milk (meaning heat it up to simmering on the stove) and let it cool to about 110ºF before adding it in the first step of the recipe.