It’s one of the simplest pizzas out there with only San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil as the toppings, but making it is an art form. For home cooks though, achieving the large dough bubbles, charred portions and well-baked bottom (makes a hollow sound when scratched) that are the signature of a pizza oven, can be tricky. Enter the cast iron pan. Preheating, as you would a pizza stone, allows the pizza to cook in just a few minutes.
Sure, you could use a pizza stone or a baking sheet to make pizza and both work well, but cast iron holds the heat of your oven better.
With handles for lifting, even heating and easy care (just hand wash and, once dry rub with neutral flavoured cooking oil), this cast iron pan is great for making pizzas, flatbreads, Indian dosas, pancakes and crepes. Or, use it as a Mexican comal for quesadillas, tortillas and searing meat and vegetables. Although it is not quite deep enough to qualify as a true paella pan, in a pinch, it will do the job.
Lodge Cast Iron Baking Pan 14″, $64.00;
This is the most important step. Set oven to 500°F (260°C). Place the cast iron pan in the oven closest to the element for 45 minutes. Use this time to assemble the pizza.
It takes minutes to whip up pizza dough, waiting for it to rise is another matter. While store-bought pizza dough is the quickest way to go, stopping by your local pizza joint to purchase dough will result in a more flavourful pizza.
Top with canned San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo milk mozzarella (or swap cow’s milk mozzarella, for the same texture and melt). Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. We added freshly ground black pepper for extra zing.
Once the oven has come to temperature, turn it to broil or grill (depending on your settings). Transfer the pizza to the cast iron pan. It will take 5 minutes to cook. Resist the urge to open the oven door as this will cool the temperature.
* This time does not include preheating the cast iron pan. It only refers to assembly of the pizza and baking time.
This original recipe article first appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.