People go to great lengths to get a crisp, golden-bottomed pizza crust at home; pizza stones are the most common trick, allowing the cook to preheat the heavy disc before placing the dough on top. The pizza develops a wonderfully un-soggy bottom crust due to its direct contact with the hot, heavy stone, which simulates a real pizza oven. Wanna know what else works well? A cast iron skillet. Totally brilliant!
The idea behind a pizza stone is to conduct high heat directly and evenly across the bottom of the pizza dough, developing a crisp crust the way it would in a real pizza oven. The temperature range of home ovens doesn’t allow it to get as hot as a typical wood-burning pizza oven, which can run at 800-1000 degrees. But heating a cast iron skillet to cook your pizza on (or in) will do the same; cast iron has excellent heat retention properties – it can get nice and hot and give your dough a wonderful crust. Bonus: the seasoned finish keeps the pizza from sticking.
You’ll need some raw pizza dough. It’s easy to make your own. I like to cook pizzas at 450F, and when I do mine in a cast iron skillet I put the skillet into the oven as it preheats. If you do this, be careful – cast iron is heavy, and you’ll have to remember it’s hot and not grab the handle. If you’d rather not preheat it, you can just start with the dough in it cold, no biggie. Roll it out and slap it in.
Top with sauce, your choice of toppings and cheese. Slide it back into the oven – remember that the handle is hot if you’ve preheated the pan! Bake for about 20 minutes, until your pizza is golden and crisp. Pull it out (the handle makes it feel almost as if you’re using a real pizza peel) and slide out of the pan onto a cutting board. Mama mia!