The pizza of my childhood, I mean when it didn’t come from Little Caesars, was a homemade fluffy crust baked in a casserole dish. There were no en vogue charred bubbles or flame kissed cracker thin crusts in our house. Oh no, it was like fluffy white bread with tomato sauce and cheese and I loved it and now I crave it.
During the start of the pandemic, before we added a pizza oven to our arsenal, we made a version of my mom’s homemade pizza weekly. The nod to my youth brought comfort in the form of bread and cheese and in the face of so much unknown I’ll take comfort and the certainty of homemade pizza any night.
The recipe below comes from my second cookbook, Let’s Stay In, which is my love letter to my family. When words fail, my food steps in. This book is filled with recipes that have delighted around our family table and this one has definitely been on repeat. Although not always in the exact form below.
Pizza, I believe, is a perfect carrier for what is lingering in the fridge. Vegetables that have slumped tucked away in the drawer? Roast those up and toss them on a pizza. Random pickled things in jars cowering in the corners? Those add zip and zing to any ‘za, pizza (nope, sorry, won’t even do it for the alliteration). As long as you have cheese you are ready for pizza. That’s right, I’m not even calling tomato sauce a necessity. My favorite pizzas are the ones drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with thinly sliced garlic. Trust me.
This recipe is also what we’ll be cooking together on Sunday for our second Cook - Along. For paid subscribers, I have a monthly virtual gathering where we hang out in our kitchens the way I imagine we are doing when I’m writing recipes for you all. We’ll cook and converse and connect over our love of food. It’s very informal and I do hope you’ll be there. Sunday, January 30 at 3:00 pm PST. I’ll send the link for the zoom shortly.
Also, if you’re interested in joining us but paying the subscription fee isn’t possible right now, please do let me know. Everyone is welcome in the kitchen. Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram @ashrod
Sheet Pan White Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella Stuffed Crust, Leeks, and Mushrooms
We are big pizza fans in this house as are many of your homes–I’m sure. And let me admit I do have a soft spot for the stuffed crust variety from my childhood. So much so that I’ve taken it upon myself to indulge that longing with a version of my own. Here we use smoky mozzarella to tuck into the crust then top the fluffy pan pizza with leeks, mushrooms, and rosemary. The sauce is a simple drizzle of olive oil and a smattering of thinly sliced garlic cloves, a trick I learned from our favorite pizza spot in Seattle, Delancey. Of course you can make the traditional pizza here in lieu of a pan pizza but I often find myself still in the kitchen while my family starts working on the first hot, round pizzas. This way it’s one pan and done so we can all sit together and pull apart the cheese laden crusts.
*Store bought pizza dough would work great for this but you may need use two portions to cover the entire sheet pan.
Serves 4 to 6
1 recipe pizza dough (recipe below)
4 tablespoons olive oil, dividec
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 ounces/ 230 g smoked mozzarella
6 ounces/ 170 g fresh whole milk mozzarella, roughly torn
1/2 cup/ 115 g ricotta
2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus more whole leaves for serving
1 large leek, sliced about 1 1/2 cups/ 135 g
6 ounces/ 170 g crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup/ 5 g finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Preheat your oven to 475°F and place one rack near the top of your oven and another in the middle. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to a sheet pan. Roll the dough around the oil a bit to evenly coat. Start pressing out the dough to cover the surface of the sheet pan. You will need to let it rest several times during this process so the gluten relaxes and will stretch again.
Cut half of the smoked mozzarella into 1/4 x 1 1/2 inch (roughly) pieces. Line the edge of the pizza with the cheese leaving about 1/2 -inch crust all along the edge. Fold that dough over the cheese and press firmly to seal it in.
Brush another 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil all over the dough, including the crust. Dot the dough with the garlic then dollop tablespoon size scoops of ricotta all over the dough. Scatter the smoked and fresh mozzarella around the dough then layer on the rosemary, leeks, and mushrooms.
Dust the Parmesan over the crust then bake on the top rack for 15 minutes. Check the pizza, if it seems to be browning too quickly move it to the middle rack to finish baking for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
Let the pizza cool slightly before serving. Add more fresh rosemary and Parmesan just before serving.
Focaccia/ Pizza Dough
This soft dimpled dough has become the house standard for fluffy crusted pan pizzas and freckled focaccia. Use it for the Roasted Grape and Taleggio Focaccia (page xx) or our Smoked Mozzarella Stuffed Crust Pizza (page xx) or create your own family favorite.
Makes 1 12x17 inch focaccia or pan pizza
3 cups / 1 lb/ 455 g flour
1 tablespoon yeast
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup / 10 ounces/ 300 ml warm water
1/4 cup / 1 3/4 ounce / 60 ml olive oil
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or in a large bowl using your hands as the dough hook) add the flour, yeast, sea salt, and sugar. Mix just a few seconds to combine. Stir in the warm water and olive oil then knead until a smooth, sticky dough forms. Let this rise until doubled, about an hour, or plop into a greased and lidded container in the fridge overnight.