This is a double recipe of the skillet pizza in Bread Toast Crumbs.
This recipe yields 6 rounds of pizza dough. You can halve it, but know, too, you can refrigerate extra dough. I typically bake off 4 pizzas and refrigerate 2 rounds of dough (in individual quart containers), which I bake on the following evening, sometimes just brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, sometimes as described here with sauce and mozzarella.
If you are unfamiliar with the peasant bread dough, it is a very wet, no-knead dough. The key when handling it, is to use as much flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the board and your hands.
Jarred sauce: Most of the year, I use jarred tomato sauce. I like using a local (to me) brand: Casa Visco marinara.
I like the balls of fresh mozzarella that aren't in brine. The brined balls tend to make the dough very wet. I prefer to pull the mozzarella into chunks as opposed to grate it, but I have used pre-grated mozzarella with success, too. My kids enjoy pulling the balls of mozzarella into pieces, so I've been sticking to the balls recently. —Alexandra Stafford
for the dough
(512 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for assembly
lukewarm water (made my stirring together 1.5 cups cold water and .5 cups boiling water)
olive oil for the skillets
jarred tomato sauce, see notes above
fresh mozzarella, see notes above
sea salt, optional
In This Recipe
To make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and instant yeast. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. (If you need to use active dry yeast instead, proof it in the lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar first for about 10 minutes, until foamy, before adding to the other ingredients.)
Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk. Note: Here's a trick for making the perfect warm spot for the dough to rise. Set the oven to 400° F and let it preheat for 1 minute, then shut it off. The temperature will be between 80° F and 100° F. you should be able to place your hands (carefully) on the oven grates without burning them.
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 550° F. Cover a work surface or cutting board liberally with flour — use at least 1/4 cup and more as needed. The dough is very wet, so don't hesitate to use flour as needed. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball. Turn the dough out onto your floured surface and use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 6 equal portions. With floured hands, roll each portion into a ball, using the pinkie-edges of your hands to pinch the dough underneath each ball. Let the balls sit on their tucked-in edges for at least 20 minutes without touching.
Pour 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil into one or two 8- to 10-inch oven-safe skillet. (If you have two skillets, prepare two—I don't bake more than two pizzas at a time, but if you have two ovens or if your oven is large enough to fit three skillets on one rack, you can prepare three skillets at this step.) Transfer one ball of dough to each prepared skillet, and roll in the oil to coat.
With oiled hands and working from the center out, gently stretch the dough to fit the skillet or into an 8- to 9-inch round. As soon as the dough begins resisting or tearing, stop, let it rest for 5 minutes, then stretch again—small tears are fine and can easily be pinched back together.
Spoon sauce over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border or so. Top with mozzarella to taste (see photos above for guidance). Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, if using. Place the skillets in the oven, one or two at a time, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are golden. Check the underside with a metal spatula; it should be crisp and golden brown. If the underside of the crust is still pale, continue baking for 3 to 5 minutes (checking often), or place the pan over a burner on medium-high heat for about a minute, keeping an eye on it the entire time and continuing to peek at the underside.