Thursday, April 13, 2017


Best Blog Tips

I've been sick with the flu and bronchitis for a month-- hence, the lack of blogging.  However, I am on the mend and interested in cooking again.  I had a yen for pizza the other day, but I really didn't want to heat up the oven for a long period of time at high heat for just two little pizzas.  I remembered reading about pizza cooked in cast iron pans on the stovetop in a bread baking book, so I thought I'd give it a try. Now I'm hooked! (And you will not have to buy a $200 stovetop pizza maker!)

You can make the no-knead dough the day before or a week before and the cold dough will be easy to handle. I've never made pizza so fast and with less fuss and bother than this, and I have made alot of pizza in my time.  It's perfect for 2-4 people.

And I love that I don't have to have the oven on for so long-- saves energy.

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This method may take a bit of adjustment, depending on your stove burners.  I have an electric stove and the burners tend to be VERY hot, so I was not going to heat the pans any higher than on medium heat. (More details below.) It's also worth remembering that cast iron heats faster and retains heat longer than a pizza stone.

NOTE: If you have time to do a trial run with one piece of dough , it might be helpful, so that you can see how the dough responds to 3-4 minutes cooking on your particular burners (with the lid on the pan), and then you can adjust the heat accordingly.

So, when you are ready to make pizza....

1.) Have your toppings ready
(and you want to go easy on the toppings): I saute some thinly sliced onions, peppers and mushrooms, and a bit of vegan sausage, thinly sliced, and then I use Daiya mozza shreds (but use any kind of vegan melty cheese you like) and a bit of Go Veggie! soy parmesan. For the sauce, use whatever kind you like.  If I'm in a hurry, I just use some bottled tomato passata with basil and add a bit of salt and garlic to it.

2.) Measure out the dough (see info below and recipe links) and have your rolling-out set-up ready and waiting.

3.) Now pre-heat your skillets: I use well-seasoned cast iron skillets. I have read that you can use a heavy stainless steel skillet as well, and I would think that you could use a carbon steel skillet, too, since you can actually season both of those pans just like cast iron. See the end of the blog post for how to season all these types of skillets.
The first time I made the stovetop pizzas, I heated my pans at medium heat for 5 minutes on the two largest burners (#5 for the front one, and #4 for the back burner, which is very hot).  It worked okay, but the bottoms burned a bit.  The second time, I turned the front one to #4 and the back one to #3, which worked better.) PS: I didn't grease the pans at all.

You can heat the pans while you roll out the dough.

WARNING:  I use silicone hot handle covers on the handles of my skillets, but you will still need really good oven mitts when moving these hot pans around.

4.) Move the top rack of your oven to about 4-5 inches below your oven broiler and turn the broiler to high. You will be quickly broiling the top of the pizzas after stovetop cooking.

5.)  I used 6 oz. of cold dough for each personal pizza, rolled out to fit an 8-inch cast iron skillet.  The no-knead dough should be fresh out of the refrigerator (after at least an all-night stay) and will need a good sprinkling of flour all over before rolling out on a piece of baking parchment or a silicone mat.

I used the no-knead version of my 3/4 whole wheat flatbread dough, or you could use my 100% whole wheat no-knead flatbread dough-- both doughs will keep refrigerated for a week or two. Or use your own favorite dough.

6.) Quickly place the rolled-out dough into the hot pans.  Quickly spread with some of your sauce (dump about 3 tablespoons in the center of the dough and spread it outwards in a circular motion with the back of a soup spoon), top with a small handful vegan cheese shreds, a sprinkle of vegan parm and a handful of your toppings.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil from a squirt bottle, if you like.  Cover with a lid and let cook for about 3 more minutes.

NOTE: If you are making 2 more pizzas, you can roll out the dough during this cooking time.

7.) Lift the lid and check the bottom of the dough-- it should be lightly browned with maybe some dark spots.  If it's burning, the heat is too high-- you might want to move the pan off the heat for the last bit of cooking.

8.) Finishing off: now, you can slightly brown the top and melt the cheese thoroughly by moving the pans from the stovetop to the top rack of your oven, under the broiler. 1 or 2 minutes under the broiler should do it-- watch carefully.

Remove the skillets to the stovetop again and use a large spatula to move the pizzas to racks or plates. Repeat with more dough, etc, if you are making a couple more pizzas.


Instructions for seasoning a carbon steel skillet here, here and here.
here and here.

Instructions for seasoning a cast iron skillet

If your cast iron skillet is really a mess
, here is one way to restore it. If it is a rusty mess, it needs to be stripped and re-seasoned. I had an old pan like this and I did not want to use lye or oven cleaner to scrub it.  I used the self-cleaning oven method described at the beginning of this article. This treatment stripped it right down to the grey iron. Then I did thorough oven-seasoning-- rub oil on all parts of the pan, including the handle; make sure there is no dripping oil; bake at about 350 degrees F for 1 hour; cool completely; repeat 3 more times. This may seem excessive, but you can do it when you are baking something at the same time, and the pan was like new!

To keep your cast iron pans well-seasoned, after cooking, add some HOT water to the pan (do not use cold) and let them soak for a few minutes.  Then clean with a scrub brush (no stainless steel scrubbers, please!).  Anything is stuck, use the edge of a plastic (not metal) dough scraper or the special polycarbonate pan scraper that Lodge sells for this purpose.

Dry the pan thoroughly.  Rub a little oil all over the inside of the pan.  Rub it in well and don't leave any excess oil.  Place over low heat on the stove for 5-10 minutes.  Let it cool and store.

PS: You do not need to use an expensive oil like flax oil, or even coconut oil.  Your favorite neutral smelling/tasting oil will do just fine.