This came together as the amalgamation of at least 6 different pizza sauce recipes. Skip the pepper flakes if you prefer it mild. When cooking, I like to leave the sauce slightly thinner than optimal. We make pan pizza at home, so the thick crust needs a longer bake than the toppings. We bake the crust for 10 minutes with sauce only, then 10 more minutes with cheese and toppings. The first bake allows the sauce to evaporate extra liquid.
1 T butter 1 T olive oil 1 large clove garlic, minced 1 14.5 oz/400g can whole stewed tomatoes 1/2 t dried oregano 1 t dried basil large pinch salt large pinch sugar 1/2 t whole fennel seeds large pinch dried red pepper flakes (optional) 1 small onion, peeled and halved
Heat a small saucepan to medium and add butter and oil, cooking until milk solids just start to brown. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until very fragrant. Add tomatoes and juices to the pan. If you like your tomatoes chunky, add them to the pot whole and break them up with a spatula; for smoother sauce, run them through a food processor first. Stir in all of the rest of the ingredients plus a half-can of water, bring sauce to a simmer and cook on medium-low for one hour or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove onion, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Note: this post is evolving with us as we get better working with dough and change dwellings and available equipment.
Sarah found this recipe a few days ago, and we’ve been drooling about it ever since.
We don’t have two round 10-inch cast iron skillets, like the original recipe calls for, but we do have a 10.5-inch squarish one, and a 12” round one. Here are the ingredients from the Serious Eats recipe, converted to fresh yeast1, and scaled for the pans we use.2
Still measuring your ingredients by volume (cups, fl. oz.)? You must like washing dishes.
Mix everything in a large bowl by hand or with a wooden spoon or something. Don’t make it too complicated. When you’ve got the dough formed into a ball, transfer to a different bowl coated lightly in oil. Or it could be the same bowl — that’s fine.
Do the oven rise, or the steam oven rise, but not both!
Steam Oven Rise
This is the big advantage of our new4 kitchen. The steam oven cuts the rise time dramatically. Set your steam oven on “dough proofing” or similar. We set ours to 30 °C — that’s as low as ours goes. Let it rise in there for 2 hours.
No-Steam Oven Rise
Cover the bowl tightly in plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for up to six hours. We used our oven for this — set it to 50 °C for a few minutes at a time to keep the temperature warm and pleasant for the yeast to feel productive. It’s done when it’s more than doubled in size.
You need the in-pan rise no matter what.
Coat your cast iron skillet in olive oil: bottom and sides. Use your hands, and get them slippery, too. Grab the dough out of the bowl and form it into a ball, turning it inside out a few times in your hands. Spread it out as evenly as you can in the pan without tearing it. It will resist, so stretch the dough repeatedly in multiple directions to coerce it. If it does not reach all the way the walls of the pan, do not despair: during the next rise and subsequent bake, it will.
Do an in-pan rise for an hour. We use our oven for this; you may have another warm place for dough to rise. Set the oven as low as it will go — ours won’t go lower than 50 °C — and let the dough rise in the pan for an hour. You can make the sauce and prepare the toppings while you wait.
Baking, Saucing, Topping, Serving
Take the pan out of the oven (if the in-pan rise was happening there) and crank it up as high as it will go. Ours maxes it out at 250 °C. You might want to put a pizza stone in there or a baking steel or something to keep the temperature high and stable. We found that that’s really not necessary with a convection oven, but it worked well with our conventional oven in the past.
Do two bakes — one just for the crust and sauce, and one for the toppings. You give the crust a head start and dry out the sauce a little bit with the first bake. We’re going for a golden, crispy bottom layer, with medium-crumb airiness in the middle.
Spread the sauce on the dough as far out to the edge of the crust as you dare. When the oven is preheated, put the sauced pie in your cast iron skillet in for 10 minutes. It should start to brown a little by the time you take it out.
Take it out and apply the rest of your toppings. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is largely browned.
Use a wide metal spatula to flop the pie onto a wooden cutting board. It should come out pretty easily thanks to the olive oil coating you gave the pan before starting the in-pan rise. Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting it into servable pieces.
If you fail to wait for the pie to come down to a reasonable temperature, you will burn the heck out the roof of your mouth. Enjoy it anyways.
We’ve tried making pizza from scratch before, but never were really satisfied with the crust (Sarah’s sauce is awesome, however). It was always too flimsy, messy and difficult to move around or bake completely. So we stopped trying for a while.