In his latest book, “Every Night is Pizza Night”, Kenji Lopez-Alt takes us through his foolproof recipe for the whole family to enjoy: pan pizza. This simple recipe is perfect for help from smaller hands – kids love to get involved! Whether it’s helping measure ingredients, watching the dough knead, or topping with whatever whacky ingredients they desire. However you like your pan pizza, this recipe is all you need for ultimate cheesy crusts and soft, spongy dough.
Illustration: Gianna Ruggiero
9x 13” rimmed sheet pan
Makes 1x 9” by 13” pan pizza
For the dough
6g (0.21oz) instant or rapid-rise yeast
220g (7.7oz) warm water
300g (10.5oz) bread flour, plus more for dusting
6g (0.21oz) table salt
8g (0.28oz) Extra-virgin olive oil, plus a few extra tablespoons for drizzling in the pan
For the toppings
230g (8.1oz) classic pizza sauce
250g to 340g (8.8oz to 12oz) grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese
In a measuring cup, dissolve the yeast into the warm water. Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the water/yeast mixture and the olive oil to the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
If kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, the dough will feel quite sticky. This is OK!
If kneading in a stand mixer, mix at medium-low speed for 10 minutes, until the dough forms a smooth, silky ball. (The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl as it kneads rather than riding around the edges)
Shape the dough into a smooth ball and return to the mixing bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, or drape the top with a clean kitchen towel and place a heavy plate on top (Kenji top tip!). Set aside to proof at room temperature for roughly 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
Pour a couple tbsp olive oil in the bottom of a 9” by 13” rimmed sheet pan. Transfer the dough to the pan and turn to coat it in the oil. Use the tips of your fingers to press down on the dough, gently pushing it toward the edges. You won't be able to get it all the way to the edges; this is okay. Spread it as much as you can without tearing, then cover tightly in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
After 30 mins, the dough should have relaxed a little. Repeat the stretch – it should be able to reach the edges this time. If not, let it rest a little more and try again. To get the dough to stay in the corners, stretch it up beyond the corners so that it pulls back into place. Once dough is fully stretched, cover and set aside while you preheat your oven and get your toppings ready.
For the sauce for this pizza, we recommend preparing our easy Classic Pizza Sauce. For want of small helping hands, simply crushing good-quality tinned tomatoes with a little salt is another of Kenji's tips to make an excellent pizza sauce!
When ready to bake, form the pizza: Press down on dough with your fingertips to remove any large air bubbles. With a large spoon or ladle, spread an even layer of sauce across the base. Top with cheese, and any other ingredients you desire! Due to the sturdy nature of pan pizza, you can be pretty liberal with extra toppings.
Reduce the oven to the lowest flame, then transfer the pan to the mouth of the oven. Keeping the pan furthest from the flames prevents charring over a longer cooking period. Cook for 12-15 minutes, making sure to rotate the pan at least once or twice. Once the edges are bubbling and the cheese on top has turned a golden brown, remove the pan from the oven. Transfer to a trivet or folded kitchen towel on your countertop and let cool for 10 minutes.
Run a thin metal spatula all the way around the edges of the pan to loosen the pizza. Carefully lift it out and slide it onto a cutting board. Cut pizza and serve with your choice of garnish! Kenji’s daughter Pipo likes hers with fresh basil and grated parmesan.
Let us know what yours, or your little ones’ favourite toppings are over at @oonihq!