The ingredients of a classic Pizza Margherita represent the colors of Italy with its ripe red tomatoes, white Mozzarella cheese, and fresh green basil. This attractive combination of simple, yet delicious, ingredients explains why it is a favorite of pizza lovers everywhere.
This version combines all of the above with a well-seasoned cast iron cooking surface and a super-hot 500°F oven to deliver a delightfully crispy crust with a soft, but not overly chewy, interior.
It’s no secret that large cast iron skillets are great for making deep dish pizzas at home, but there are a couple drawbacks to this application. For starters, it is challenging to cut the pizza without damaging that highly coveted well-seasoned surface that makes cast iron cookware so famous. What’s more, it is also difficult to transfer the whole pizza from the skillet to a safe cutting surface to avoid this problem.
For this reason, the flat surface of a 10½-inch square cast iron combo grill/griddle* is used here instead. Because it doesn’t have high sides, this piece makes it super easy to slide the finished pizza onto a more suitable surface before slicing.
*Product Details: Lodge LSRG3 Cast Iron Single-Burner Reversible Grill/Griddle, 10.5-inch
Prep time: 20 minutes (+ 1 hour for dough to rise)
Cook time: 12-15 minutes
Serves: 2-4 per pizza**
**This recipe yields enough dough to make two medium-crust pizzas on the cast iron griddle shown. If preferred, the dough can be divided to create three thin-crust pizzas of this size. Unused dough can be wrapped tightly and refrigerated or frozen for later use.
1½ c. very warm water (110˚-115°F)
2¼ t. active dry yeast
1 t. white or brown sugar
1 t. table salt
3 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 c. all-purpose flour, divided
Non-stick cooking spray
Toppings Ingredients (for one pizza):
1/3 c. pizza sauce
1 T. dried Italian seasoning
½ T. garlic powder
3 small Campari tomatoes, sliced***
4 oz. fresh Mozzarella, sliced
3 oz. low-moisture Mozzarella, shredded
3 T. fresh basil, sliced (+ small sprigs for garnish)
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional, for garnish
***San Marzano tomatoes are often used for Pizza Margherita, partly because they are less watery than other varieties. If they are not available locally, you can substitute other varieties, as well. The variety shown here are Campari, which are rounder and juicier than the San Marzano. If you are worried about a soggy crust, chop the tomatoes instead of slicing them and strain for excess liquid before placing on top.
- To proof the yeast, add the warm water to a large bowl, followed by the yeast and sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Add salt and two tablespoons olive oil to the same bowl and stir to combine. Gradually add two-and-a-half cups flour, one-half cup at a time, stirring continually until the flour is thoroughly incorporated into the dough.
- Sprinkle flour onto a clean work surface and lightly coat hands with additional flour. Drop the dough onto the prepared work surface and knead in remaining flour just until dough is no longer sticky. Shape dough into a ball and add to a clean bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside in a warm place for one hour or until the dough doubles in size.
Tip: It will take approximately 3½ cups of all-purpose flour for the dough to reach the correct consistency. (If the dough is still sticky at that point, work in a little more flour, one tablespoon at a time, just until no longer sticky). The additional flour in the ingredients list is for the work surface and your hands while working with the dough.
- When the dough is almost ready, place the top oven rack in the center position and pre-heat the oven to 500°F.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down with your lightly floured fist. After a couple minutes, divide the dough in half and roll out one half on a clean, well-floured surface until it is a little bit larger than the surface of your cast iron skillet or griddle, as shown.
- Transfer the dough to the cast iron griddle and stretch it with your fingers until it completely fills the space, and the outer perimeter is slightly thicker than the rest of the crust.
- Brush remaining olive oil around the perimeter of the dough, as shown. Then top the dough with the pizza sauce and spread into a thin, uniform layer up to the edge of the oil-brushed crust. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning and garlic powder on top of the sauce in an even, uniform layer.
- Arrange the sliced tomatoes and fresh Mozzarella cheese on top. Sprinkle with the low-moisture shredded Mozzarella and carefully place the pizza in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is brown and bubbly.
- Carefully remove from oven and cool for several minutes before topping with fresh basil and crushed red pepper flakes, if using.
Tip: The pan will be very, very hot at this point, so use extreme caution while working around it.
- To serve, carefully slide the baked pizza to a clean cutting surface and slice into individual pieces. Enjoy!