pepperoni pan pizza

This week the Foodie Joanie blog achieved a milestone, sort of. Two people signed up to receive e-mail notices of new blog postings. One is someone from the blogosphere, the other is Andy. I know he shouldn’t count. However he has the distinction of being an early connoisseur (and survivor) of my cooking ever since I baked him a chocolate cake from a mix for his birthday when we were in college.

This was a big week, cooking-wise, since Sandra came to show me how cooking is done in an Italian kitchen. I know now that pizza isn’t genuine Italian food but it’s such a big part of American food lore that America’s Test Kitchen decided to improve upon it. But with a Whole Foods a few blocks away that makes and sells ready-made pizza dough, it’s not hard to find a shortcut and a timesaver.

Pizza Crust
1 bag of refrigerated dough (I bought white pizza dough)
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 (9″x2″) round cake pans

Let the dough come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 200˚F then switch off the heat. Prepare the two cake pans. Put 3 tablespoons oil in each pan and set aside. Cut open the dough package and put the dough on a lightly floured board. Knead a couple of times and shape into a ball. Grease a large glass bowl with cooking spray, put the dough ball in it and turn it until it is coated with oil all over. Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and put it in the warm oven to double in size, about 1/2 an hour. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Marinara Sauce for topping
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

In a cold saucepan, add the oil and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes. Cook for 15 minutes until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Pizza toppings
1 roll pepperoni sausage cut into thin rounds
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, bundled and rolled into a cigar shape and sliced thinly crosswise
Red pepper flakes for serving, optional

Put the pepperoni rounds between sheets of paper towels on a plate. Microwave for 30 seconds to draw out the oil. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 400˚F. Gently swirl the oil around the bottom of the cake pan, being careful not to get any oil on the sides. Set aside. Turn out the risen dough onto a lightly floured board and cut the dough ball in half. Roll each half into a 7-inch circle. Drape one of the circles over the backs of your knuckles and gently stretch out the dough circle to 9 1/2 inches. The center should be thin, the edges thicker. Gently pat into a prepared pan. Don’t get any oil on the top of the crust. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set it aside as you do the second crust.

Remove the plastic wrap. Spoon one ladleful of sauce in the center of each dough circle and spread it towards the edges, leaving a 1/2 inch border. You may need to add a little bit more of the sauce to cover the dough. I forgot to mention that you will have leftover tomato sauce. Just refrigerate the leftovers if you plan on using it up in the next three days. If not, freeze the leftovers.

Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of the grated mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce. Spread the pepperoni on top of the cheese. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and let the pizza rest for 1 minute.  Sprinkle the top with fresh basil. Slice and serve with red pepper flakes, if you like. Yum!