Photo from my bike club’s tumblr of an early round of pizza making
Oh, pizza how I love you. I won’t pretend that pizza is a health food, but I do know that it has been an integral, yummy part of my diet since I was old enough to think about food. In my Italian-American household growing up pizza was a ritual. My father painstakingly searched out all the local pizzerias to find one that made pizza closest to what he grew up with in Brooklyn. He practically interviewed the owner and the pizza maker (often the same person). I remember this place opened by a family who had moved from Brooklyn gave my father a special gold discount card because they loved how much he loved pizza!
What my pizzas look like today.
But then pizza became an issue when I first went vegetarian at age 13. I would pick the pepperoni off my slices and my father would yell at me that I was wasting money and we couldn’t afford to not eat toppings. When I went vegan a few years later my generally supportive mother was concerned that I was depriving myself unnecessarily by excluding cheese. “But, why cheese too? What will you eat, how will you survive?”
For years I ate cheeseless pizzas or made my own with pre-made dough and was generally happy with them. When vegan cheeses improved in the early aughts, I still wasn’t that impressed. I’d much rather have a tasty cheeseless pizza than have a mediocre cheese on there. But, and I hate to admit this, when Daiya came out it really was a game changer. All this time and I had never made my own dough. The rising and the kneading, it always seemed more science than art, and that’s not my cooking style. But then one day I wanted to make pizza with a friend and there were no pre-made doughs at any walkable stores. We had to resort to buying pre-made crust. It was expensive and incredibly meh. That did it!
So with new found excitement I called my good friend Dave Vandermaas (photo) who I knew would have a kick-ass dough recipe. Then I decided I wanted to make deep dish pizza in cast-iron skillets. It’s on another level! And it’s so much easier than I ever thought it would be. I’ve played with the recipe and made some small changes- maybe pizza making is more art than science!
Perfect Pizza Dough
1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm (not hot!) water
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 t salt
2 t sugar
1. Add dry yeast and 1 t sugar to warm water, let stand for 10 minutes.
What your yeast should look like after 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile combine flour, salt, remaining sugar and olive oil in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
3. After 10 minutes and yeast has grown significantly, add to mixing bowl.
4. Stir ingredients until well-combined. Dough should be slightly wet- it’ll stick to your fingers.
Pre-rise dough mixture.
5. Cover with dish towel and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes- I turn my oven on at 100 degrees and then turn off immediately. Racks should be warm to touch but not too hot.
Dough has just about doubled in size- in only 30 minutes
6. Dough should have risen to about double its size. Lightly flour a flat surface and your hands, pull dough out and kneed to shape. I flatten and double at least twice, but spend only about 2 minutes doing this. It’s way easier than I thought!
You don't have to do much kneading to get it to the right size.
7. Flatten dough into cast-iron, add toppings. Traditional deep dish has sauce on top of cheese, but I still prefer my cheese in between the sauce and toppings.
I flatten the dough on the skillet and press it against the sides, the way I imagine you do when making apple pie- though I've never made apple pie.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Note- I always double the recipe and use 1.5 doughs for my 12-inch cast-iron and 0.5 doughs for the 9-inch one.
Toppings for two pizzas
1 small head of broccoli finely diced
1 zucchini finely diced
4 cloves of diced garlic
1 bag Daiya mozzerella
1/2 package Field Roast sausage
15 ounce jar pizza sauce (slightly thicker than marinara)
Cost- These two pizzas cost me about $13- and I used organic flour, yeast, vegetables and pizza sauce. And half of that cost is the vegan cheese and sausage!! So you can make two organic cheeseless veggie pizzas for about $7 with pretty minimal effort. How amazing is that? And if you are like me and more of a cook than a baker, don’t let pizza dough intimidate you. It’s not a perfect science and if you are comfortable in the kitchen you too can make these fantastic pizzas.
Let me know if you try them! And please do share any pizza making tips and recipes in the comments. Thanks and enjoy!