Sheet pan pizza 2022

Pizza making around here follows an annual cycle. Since getting a portable, outdoor pizza oven, summers are devoted to Neapolitan-style pies. But in winter, when it’s too cold for the outdoor oven (I found that the Ooni struggles to stay hot enough when it’s below 20º out, plus who wants to walk out there?) we switch to focaccia or Sicilian-style pizza baked in a half-sheet pan.

My dough recipe has evolved, but all versions have adhered to some general principles. I make a very wet since it gets baked in a pan and doesn’t have to be shaped by hand or slid off a peel. A kilogram of dough is the right amount to fill a half-sheet pan.

For last year’s version of pan pizza, I would mix almost equal masses of water and flour with salt and a very small amount of yeast and let that ferment overnight in the refrigerator before panning and baking it the next day.

But that all changed this fall after I made Andrew Janjigian’s Sicilian Slab pizza recipe. This is one you really should try — it makes this fluffy, pillowy pizza — almost a cross between a pizza and a doughnut.

The Slab pizza recipe is very good, but it was a little too sweet and not quite as chewy as what I like to eat on a regular basis. But the key thing I learned from that recipe is that I could do away with the overnight fermentation and make the dough the same day as I planned to bake the pizza.

For the current recipe, I mix together:

  • 515 g bread flour
  • 485 g water (94 percent hydration)
  • 11 g salt
  • A few teaspoons yeast (I just eyeball this)

Once all the flour is incorporated, I let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Then I stretch the dough out and fold it over itself in four directions and let it rest another half hour. I’ll repeat this a fewe times as time allows. If I start the dough around 1 p.m., it’s in good shape to pan around 5.

About putting it in the pan: I prepare a half-sheet pan by spraying it with cooking spray and brushing it with olive oil — using a lot of olive oil gives the bottom of the crust a texture like fried dough, if you’re in the mood for that. After a final 30 minute rest, I turn the dough out on to a well floured counter and stretch and pat it into a rectangle.

I carefully lift the dough rectangle into the sheet pan, pour on more olive oil, and then lightly stretch and dimple it out to near the edges of the pan (it will resist going all the way to the corners). I let that rest another half hour, then use my fingertips to again dimple the dough out to the edges of the pan. From there it’s ready to top and bake in a 500ºF preheated oven, preferably with a stone or steel in it (I use both stacked on top of each other), for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese looks as brown as I like.

Speaking of toppings, I make a variant of the crushed tomato sauce from Peter Reinhart’s American Pie (actually, I thought it was exactly his recipe, but having looked back at it recently I realized I’ve diverged):

  • A 14oz can of crushed tomatoes, or a can of whole tomatoes that you puree in the food processor or with a stick blender
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper
  • A splash of red wine vinegar
  • A splash of olive oil
  • A minced garlic clove

Just stir it all together and spread it on the pie — no need to cook it, since it’s about to go in a very hot oven.

For cheese, we use regular low-moisture whole milk mozzarella.

That’s where things stand with sheet pan pizza now. The weather in Minneapolis is warming up, so it will soon be Ooni season again (I’ve been making my Neapolitan dough with sourdough recipe based on this recipe, also from Andrew Janjigian). But when it cools down again in the fall, we’ll be back to this — or whatever its next iteration is.

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