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pan-demic days

Recipe: pan pizza

It’s been a while since the last post and that was originally unintentional, but soon became quite intentional. I’ve been taking the time to educate, and in some cases, re-educate myself on racism in this country. For those who don’t follow my personal Instagram (@jenyuphoto), I’m listing a few of the pods and reads I’ve recently recommended:

1) The Scene on Radio podcast is an excellent series of documentary journalism. I highly recommend listening to Season 2: Seeing White, which examines racism in United States, and Season 4: The Land That Never Has Been Yet, a look at how our democracy was built. I cannot recommend these two seasons enough.

2) The 1619 podcast from The New York Times. If you listen to Scene on Radio, you’ll notice a little overlap between the first two episodes of 1619 and the Seeing White (season 2) series. Additionally, Scene on Radio’s John Biewen, in collaboration with Reveal, produced an episode relevant to episodes 5 and 6 of 1619. It’s called Losing Ground and worth a listen.

3) White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. 2018, Beacon Press.

4) 13th on Netflix. Documentary.

5) Hidden Brain episode The Air We Breathe: Implicit Bias and Police Shootings.

6) The Electoral College’s Racist Origins, from The Atlantic (Nov 2019).

This is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start. I continue to work my way through more material. For those who are upset or offended by the list, I think #3 is right up your alley. If you don’t want “politics” on a food blog, we’ve discussed this in the past and just like before, you can find another food blog to read. No one is going to miss you. So, bye.

The last time I posted, hints of spring were sprouting in our mountains. Now we have entered proper summer, but I wanted to document the familiar transition that kept me grounded throughout the tumultuous combo of the pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, economic nosedive, and general incompetence/malfeasance of the current administration.

signature spring green in the aspen stands

blessed rain

a pair of happy morels

not a great season, but not a terrible season (yuki for scale)

the start of thunderstorm season

colorful skies

paddleboarding says summertime

happy to still find snow up high

the blooming of the wildflowers is underway

I haven’t been one to follow Taco Tuesdays, Meatless Mondays, or Pizza Fridays at our house. We are neither that organized nor regimented. The menu I generate results from an intersection of what we have, what needs to be eaten, and what is available at the market. During the pandemic I decided to give pan pizza a try instead of our usual hand-tossed grilled sourdough pizzas. And you know what? It’s so good that we’ve made it a regular on our menu. Regular, as in, it happens every 10 days or so. Regular, because we still love it every time it comes out of the oven. That’s why I’m posting this on the blog, because I use the recipe all the time. It requires flour, which is thankfully coming back to store shelves. It also requires yeast (I use active dry yeast) that remains in short supply. Luckily, I dug up a half jar of yeast in my basement refrigerator. The expiration date was August 2015, but yeast are hardy little organisms. I dropped a few granules in a small bowl of room temperature water and watched them bloom and foam within a minute. Still good!

for the dough: flour, water, yeast, olive oil, kosher salt

whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl

stir in the water and oil

form a shaggy dough with no dry pockets of flour

The dough takes about 2 minutes to measure and mix. Then you cover it with plastic, set it on the counter at room temperature, and walk away. That dough can rise for as little as 8 hours or as long as 24 hours. I opted for 24 hours to maximize flavor development. The warmer the room, the more active your yeast and the faster the dough rises. Generally a temperature between 65°F and 75°F will work. Any cooler and the dough may require more time. Warmer temperatures will require less time.

When the dough (or you) are ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. It’s sticky stuff, so I like to sprinkle a little extra flour on top of the dough before working it. This recipe makes two pizzas and requires 2 cast iron skillets. Kenji uses 10-inch skillets, but I have a 10-inch and a 12-inch skillet. Instead of cutting the dough in half, I divvy it according to the percentage each skillet’s base surface area is of the combined skillets’ base areas. Now, the 10-inch skillet is actually 10-inches in diameter on the top of the skillet where it is more flared than the base. My 10-inch skillet has an 8-inch diameter base and my 12-inch skillet has a 10-inch diameter base. I work the math out in the note at the end of the recipe for anyone needing help with that. Math is your friend, folks. Math is your friend.

risen and ready

place the dough on a floured work surface

cut the dough into 2 pieces

shape the dough into balls

Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into each skillet. I found that a tablespoon or more resulted in a lot of splattering of hot oil in the oven. I’ve reduced the oil to 1-2 teaspoons simply because I don’t like the mess in the oven, but you can adjust according to your preferences. Place the ball of dough in the skillet and roll it around the bottom of the pan to spread the oil. Flip the ball over to coat the dough in oil and then slightly flatten the ball into a disc. Repeat for the other pan. Cover both pans and let the dough balls rise for 2 hours.

add oil to the skillets

coat the dough ball in oil and flatten it

cover and rise for 2 hours

When the dough is finishing the second rise, preheat your oven to 550°F. I’d like to point out that my willingness to run a HOT oven in a non-air conditioned house in summer is testament to the freaking awesomeness of this pan pizza. While the oven preheats, use your fingertips to press the dough from the center out to the edges of the pan. The dough yields easily, so just boss it around until the base is completely covered. Next, lift the edge of the dough up to release any trapped air underneath and lower the dough from the center to the edge. I call this burping. Continue to burp the dough around the entire perimeter.

press the dough to the edges of the pan

burp the dough all around the sides

The basic ingredients to go atop your dough are: sauce, mozzarella cheese, kosher salt, and Parmesan cheese (to finish). Does it have to be red sauce? No! You can use barbecue sauce, pesto, garlic butter, white sauce, whatever you are willing to eat. As for the cheese, that’s also up to you. Based on my experience, the firm and shreddable mozzarella is superior to the fresh mozzarella (that I typically use on my grilled pizzas) for pan pizza. The flourish comes with your other optional ingredients. We like mushrooms, greens (sautéed broccolini, chopped sautéed kale, sautéed dandelion greens), pepperoni, crumbled spicy Italian sausage, asparagus, corn, prosciutto, etc. Just keep in mind that anything with excess moisture can render your pizza a bit soggy. I tend to cook mushrooms and greens ahead of time and press them with paper towels to remove the extra liquid.

the basics: sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, kosher salt

added pepperoni and broccolini on this version

sliced batter fried morels, mozzarella, broccolini, kale, dandelion greens, kosher salt, garlic butter, parmesan

ready to bake

They key to a good pan pizza is not to skimp on the cheese and to distribute the ingredients all the way to edge of the pan. That’s actually the absolute best part where the cheese and oil and sauce mingle and brown into a crisp edge of umami bliss. So please do that part. The cooking time is 12-15 minutes, but my oven requires 16 minutes to get that mottled browning on top (which we love). Once the pizzas come out of the oven, sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan on top. Do this while the pizza is HOT so the cheese can meld and become one with the pizza. Now, if the bottom of the crust is not golden, which mine never is, set the skillets over stove burners on medium flame for 2-3 minutes. I set mine on medium-high flames for 3 minutes. Check the crusts to make sure they don’t burn, because they will if left too long. I found a nifty use for my big round cake spatula – I lift the edge of the pizza with a regular spatula enough to get the cake spatula underneath and lift it out of the skillet in one piece. Slice it up on a cutting board and it’s pizza time!

the red pizza

the green and mushroom pizza

serve it hot

never gets old

Pan Pizza
[print recipe]
from Kenji’s Serious Eats Foolproof Pan Pizza

400g (14 oz. or 2 1/2 cups) bread flour, all-purpose flour works, too
10g (2 tsps) kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
4g (1 tsp) instant yeast
275g (9.5 oz. or 1 cup + 3 tbsps) water
8g (~2 tsps) extra virgin olive oil, plus more to coat the pans
1 1/2 cups pizza sauce
12 oz. full fat hard mozzarella cheese, shredded
toppings of your choice
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated

Place the flour, salt, yeast, water, and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Stir (or use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer) the ingredients together until well-mixed and no pockets of dry flour remain. Cover with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature (no hotter than 75°F) for 8-24 hours (I prefer the 24-hour option).

Remove the plastic from the bowl and sprinkle some flour on top. Generously flour your work surface. Turn the dough out onto the work surface (I use a soft pastry scraper to get it all out of the bowl) and divide the dough into two pieces*. Pour 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil in the center of each pan (I pour a little less to avoid major oil splatters in the oven). Shape each piece of dough into a ball. I do this by flouring my hands and holding the dough in my left hand while lightly smoothing the dough from the top, contouring down the side, to the base, and repeating this motion around the entire piece until it is tidy and spherical. Set a ball of dough in each pan, turning to the coat the dough in oil and moving it around to oil the bottom of the pan. Slightly flatten the dough. Cover the pans with plastic and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 550°F. With the tips of your fingers, flatten and spread the dough to the edges of the pan until the entire bottom is lined with dough. You can gently lift the edges up to burp any air pockets, repeating for the entire perimeter of the pan. Spread sauce on top of the dough, then distribute the cheese over the sauce. Sprinkle with salt and any desired toppings. Kenji drizzles olive oil over the top, but I don’t do that anymore because it makes a mess in my oven. Bake 12-15 minutes (I go 16 minutes) until the cheese is bubbly and starts to turn golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle the Parmesan on top. If the bottom is not golden (mine never is), place each pan on a stove burner set to medium flame (I use high) for 1-3 minutes until the bottom is crisp, but not burned. Remove from pan, slice, and serve hot. Makes 2 10-inch pizzas.

* If you have two 10-inch cast iron skillets, you can divvy the dough equally. If, like me, you have a 12-inch skillet and a 10-inch skillet, then we need to talk. First off, cast iron skillets are beveled at the edges and flare out as you go up from the base of the pan. Cast iron skillet sizes are based on the diameter of the top (the widest part) of the pan. My 12-inch skillet has a 10-inch base diameter and my 10-inch skillet has an 8-inch base diameter. I divide my dough according to the ratio of the surface area of each pan to the surface area of both pans.

The surface area of each pan is: pi x radius2, where the radius is half of the diameter of the pan. The radius of the smaller pan is 4 inches and the radius of the larger pan is 5 inches. The surface area of the smaller pan is pi x 42 and the surface area of the larger pan is pi x 52. Adding them together you get a total surface area of pi x (42 + 52) or pi x (16 + 25) or 41pi. To figure out the percentage of dough to place in the smaller pan, divide the surface area of the smaller pan by the total surface area: 16pi/41pi or 16/41 or approximately 40%. I weigh my dough in grams, multiply by 0.4 and that’s the amount of dough that goes in the smaller pan. The rest goes in the larger pan.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

the woodward pizza sourdough pizza emerald kale pesto pizza basic pizza dough (db)

23 nibbles at “pan-demic days”

  1. Jill from Detroit says:

    Love the math explanation at the bottom. You know us mere mortals are just going to eyeball it! I only have one 10 inch cast iron pan so I could just make 40% of the whole recipe? Never mind I’m eating gluten free right now. But my stomach is growling just looking at your amazing pictures. Love the spring green aspens at the top.

  2. Georgina Thornley says:

    Those pizzas look fabulous, it’s only 9 am and you have made me very hungry for cheese ?… how about the salad?
    Your salad with tangerines looks nice. It’s that jicama or radish in it?

  3. Bette says:

    I miss your posts and hope you’ll come back regularly — you’re part of the “network of sanity” I envision across our beautiful country!

  4. Karen says:

    Love homemade pizza, and yours look wonderful. Thank you for all the time you put into your posts. I always enjoy them.

  5. Anne says:

    I love this recipe. I immediately had visions of pan pizza with my grandkids next door. Thank you for sharing your list. It’s very good and the podcasts are a great addition. Several years ago I claimed my racism and it was very freeing. It was an opportunity to be confronted by my country’s history of racism as well as my own.

  6. Allie says:

    How have you two been mentally dealing with the absolute failure of our country (and many states) policies to protect us? And/or the complete willful idiocy and ignorance of so so many Americans leading to the pandemic being worse here than anywhere else? I definitely think this is something that will never leave my mind even after the pandemic.. knowledge that so many people can’t think outside their selfish bubble about COMMUNITY. It gets me so down.

    Phew. In any case. The original reason I came here was to say how incredibly delicious this pizza looks and I want it right now even though it’s 9 in the morning! Your blog has gotten me through hard times in my life before (reading it, drooling over it, and making recipes), and now is no different <3 thank you.

  7. Stephani says:

    Thank you for the thoughtful post. I have been following your blog for years and I always appreciate the beautiful photos and the drop-dead yummy food. I also really appreciate your insightful way of approaching the world, and the recommendations for reading and listening fit right in. Thank you, again.

    Pan pizza has become a favorite in our house as well. I’ve been using Peter Reinhardt’s recipe, which has a sourdough version, and it is almost the same. The biggest difference is that half the cheese is cut into small chunks and pressed into the dough before the final rise in the pan. Gooey pockets of cheese and crispy bottom crust result.

    Happy cooking, baking, foraging and hiking from your friend in Bend, Oregon.

  8. Mary-Karen Euler says:

    Thank you for sharing your insights, information, musings, beauty and delicious recipes. I greatly respect your approach to your time on the Planet you inspire and uplift me in so many ways. I always savor your postings in their entirety…every “bite”!

  9. Kristin says:

    Well, jeepers, our daughter has been singing the praises of pan pizza made in her cast iron skillet, and now you. I have resisted because I really love a thin and crispy crust, but I will give it a try. It’s not that I don’t love a good pan crust too, but I broke a toe or two last month, and haven’t been able to run, so pan is kind of dangerous.

    Thanks for the resources! I don’t think the Scene on Radio podcast has appeared on any of the other lists I have seen, so I look forward to checking it out.

  10. Kelly says:

    Beautiful pictures! I will be making this pizza soon – thank you for posting. take care!

  11. Terri says:

    I have silently followed you for years. Thank you for your blog, the photography and the wonderful dogs. I too am a dog lover and geologist (geophysicist in a past life). I finished my career in public health and emergency preparedness. I appreciate your comment on the incompetence/malfeasance of the current administration. My words would be stronger. I am heartened about the number and diversity of people protesting and now have hope. Kiss the dogs.

  12. Miss B says:

    So glad you are back here! Beautiful post. I have a new-to-me 1.5 year old pup who appears to be roughly the same size and shape of your dogs. I would like to get her a more comfortable harness for running and everyday use. Can you tell me what harness/harnesses your dogs wear?

  13. jenyu says:

    Jill – Ha ha! I’ve made this recipe so many times and I *did* eyeball it the first few times, but then I was curious to weigh it out and found I was off by a lot. My eyeballing is terrible ;) And since the original recipe from Kenji uses 2 10-inch skillets, I think you can just halve the recipe and be fine.

    Georgina – I crave pizza at 9 am, too ;) The salad has Cara Cara oranges and jicama! It’s such a bright and crunchy combination.

    Bette – You’re so sweet xo

    Karen – Thank you for that kind comment :*

    Anne – You are AMAZING. Thank you for doing the work that we should all be doing xo

    Allie – Is it terrible to say that the current state of affairs is pretty much what we’ve observed about this country for years (not just under Republicans, but status quo Dems as well)? It’s just shifted into a higher gear and more blatantly pig-headed than before. None of this is a shock if you’ve been paying attention. That doesn’t mean it’s any less disappointing. The hope is that enough of us wake up and do something before the administration breaks the system so badly we can’t get rid of them even if we wanted to (and yet, an astounding number of people STILL support the idiocy). I’m not an optimist by any stretch. I’m a realist (and Jeremy is plain old Eeyore – ha ha ha!).

    Stephani – I think I’ll have to switch to the sourdough pan pizza when my yeast runs out because I refuse to pay outrageous prices for a jar of yeast. I figure it must be as good if not better. Ever since I got my starter, I’ve been trying to convert a lot of yeast recipes to sourdough. Pan pizza shouldn’t be a stretch at all :) But chunks of cheese in the crust might just break us. I think that means more miles to log on the trails! P.S. My aunt lives in Bend <3

    MK - Thank you xxoo

    Kristin - I love a thin crust, too. I should probably transition to thin crust (since we grill it) during summer and then pan pizza when the weather cools. But let's face it, pizza RULES! :) I hope your toe heals up soon. And yes, spread the work on Scene on Radio - it is EXCELLENT and made me stop and rethink so much of what I've been taught in school. Parts of it will make you weep.

    Kelly - You're welcome and be safe and healthy!

    Terri - Oh hon, my words are generally much stronger (for those who have heard me in person), but... my mom and MIL read these posts, so I have to keep it pretty clean ;) The pups send wags! Take care xo

    Miss B - Congratulations on your new pup and thank you for rescuing! Our pups wear the Ruffwear Front Range harnesses. They come in several sizes (I have seen them on REALLY small dogs - who knew?!) and are adjustable. They have front and back leash attachment points. We use them to walk, hike, run, bike, and ski the dogs and we like them very much! For swimming, we have the Ruffwear Float Coats, which are flotation devices that allow for freedom of movement (to swim) and have a nice sturdy handle on top to help lift the dogs out of the water onto our paddleboards, and can still function as a harness for walking (but not as comfortable as the Front Range). Good luck with your pup!

  14. Cheryl says:

    Hi Jen! I too have followed you for years and always enjoy how much you share about your lovely dogs, and the hiking, skiing, and cooking – all interests of mine too! Your photography is outstanding. I made this pan pizza recipe tonight for Canada Day, and it was a huge hit with the fam. We had a pepperoni/mushroom/sausage pizza and a sausage/spinach/mushroom/roasted pepper pizza. I even went to the trouble to make your homemade pizza sauce recipe and it’s a keeper too. This will be in the regular rotation around here! Thanks so much! Cheers!

  15. hungry dog says:

    The pizzas look amazing. More important, thank you for the list. Most of us have some self-education to do (including me) and I appreciate recommendations from those I trust. Like you!

    Stay safe and healthy and far from the maskless morons.

    Hungry Dog

  16. R.C. says:

    Hi, Jen! Great to see a new post up! Thanks for sharing what you’re personally doing to combat racism—the more places we talk about it, the more normalized this fight will become. I’m currently reading DiAngelo’s book myself and am learning tons with every chapter. It’s quickly proven to be a text that I’ll refer to constantly throughout my life. I’m also reading a fantastic anthology you might enjoy: ‘Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry’, ed. Camille Dungy. It’s not an explicitly anti-racism text, but rather one of those works that provides an essential perspective on a broadly white area of literature. Incredible pieces in there, and an invaluable context. On the subject of nature, I LOVE your shot of the aspen stand! Awesome composition all around! (Though, honestly, all of your nature pics are awesome all of the time… such needed escapism from these flatlands of Ohio) And on the subject of pizza… both look amazing, and I can’t wait to try out the recipe. Mottled browning ftw! All the best to you and your family this hot summer!

  17. Carole Szetela says:

    Thank you for the listening/reading resources! The conversation is important and your willingness to have it makes me appreciate you that much more. I don’t remember how I came to follow your blog, but it’s been a pleasure for years (10? is that possible?). Thanks for your perseverance, your candidness, your fab photos and your great recipes.

  18. Michelle Chang says:

    Thank you, thank you for continuing with your blog – I’ve missed it! In fact, I just followed you on Instagram too. :) Love, love, love the recs for books and podcasts. Thank you for your authenticity, cooking expertise, honesty and humor. All are appreciated in equal amounts. Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson is also good. The movie was great too. Keep on keeping on!

  19. Jaclyn says:

    Hi Jen, I found your site today while looking for huckleberry recipes (do you have a tea recipe??). However I’ve been all over your site now and ended up here because I saw the link for pan pizza and was curious to see if yours was as good as mine . . .
    It’s the same recipe! I’ve been making Kenji’s pizza for about 5yrs now! It’s the best :D

  20. Lisa says:

    I made this last night and it was delicious! Thanks.

  21. Eileen says:

    I have been a long time reader, but never comment on blogs. I just have to tell you though how much I enjoy your posts. The content is always thoughtful and respectful and your photos are just phenomenal.
    This pizza recipe is a total game changer for me. My husband built a pizza oven a few years ago and we have gotten pretty good at making individual, thin crust pies, but they require stretching and topping immediately before going into the oven and become very labour intensive when feeding a crowd. They also bake much better with minimal toppings and we have found it difficult to convince guests of this when they are dressing their own pie which usually results in a soggy mess. As we can only turn out two or three at a time we never got to sit down together to eat, so it made for a really disjointed evening. This recipe makes it so easy to feed a crowd at the same time and all of the folks who like loads of toppings are as happy as can be. A million thanks from a happy family in Ontario, Canada!!

  22. Melanie says:

    Thank you for these words and incredible resources for learning more. We all have so much to discuss, learn, and reflect on. I came here for the incredible food, then Kaweah and photography. I am so thankful when I find that people I have been inspired by for years, align with humanity. Have you happened upon Gabrielle Blair’s (Design Mom) twitter thread on hosting a public blog and followers who have convinced themselves it is ok to vote for what trump stands for? Voices against hate is so important right now.

  23. jenyu says:

    Cheryl – This is so lovely to hear. I’m glad so many are loving this recipe as we love it, too! xo

    hungry dog – You are most welcome <3

    R.C. - Thank you for the recommendation. I will add it to my ever-growing list. And while I am very much in love with the mountain scenery around here, Ohio has some beautiful woodlands to enjoy (with lots of pretty mushrooms tucked about!).

    Carole - Thank you xo.

    Michelle - Appreciate the recommendation, it's on my list (I fear I'll never get through it all, but trying is better than not!) xo

    Jaclyn - I'm sorry, I don't have a recipe for huckleberry tea, but that sounds lovely. Glad we're on the same page "pan pizza"-wise :)

    Lisa - Yay!

    Eileen - Oh my gosh, YES! We've tried entertaining with the thin crust pizzas and it takes so long! Never thought to do so with pan pizzas - although I haven't had anyone over in several months... Great idea. Thank you!

    Melanie - I took a look at the thread and I definitely feel what she's feeling, but at the same time I know and love some people who vote the opposite of what I vote. It's a very sticky and messy business, one that requires consideration and thoughtful responses. I fear that inflexibility merely makes the wedge between people more permanent :(

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