Homemade pizza is great for so many reasons. It’s ready when you want it, prepared with all your favourite ingredients and toppings, and it fills your house with the delicious smell of fresh baking. You can make it as simple or as technical as you like - using homemade pizza sauce and an artisanal sourdough base, or a can of juicy tomatoes and shop-bought dough. And for the perfect crust, your secret weapon is a cast-iron skillet.
If you’ve ever wondered how restaurants get their pizza bases so deliciously crispy, the answer is using extremely high cooking temperatures. Pizza ovens can reach temperatures of up to 900°F, while a conventional oven tends to max out at around 500°F. To get your pizza to the right temperature using your oven at home requires a little help, which is where the cast iron skillet comes in.
Cast iron is the perfect material for high-temperature cooking. It gets extremely hot and maintains temperature well, which makes it great for searing steaks or cooking stir fry. The secret to using a cast-iron skillet to cook pizza is to get it as hot as possible first, and try to assemble the pizza inside quickly to stop it losing heat. You should also avoid using extra virgin olive oil, as it will get very smoky at these high temperatures.
Our cast-iron skillet recipe is simple and adaptable. If you have a favourite dough, sauce, cheese or topping, feel free to sub it in to make your very own version of the perfect pizza.
Cast-iron skillet pizza recipe
4 oz pizza dough
6 oz pizza sauce
6 oz mozzarella cheese
2 oz parmesan cheese
2 tbsp high smoke point oil such as regular olive oil (not extra virgin) grapeseed, peanut or canola.
A handful of torn basil leaves, to garnish
Preheat your oven to 500°F, or as hot as it will go, with the cast iron skillet inside. For the crispiest crust, you need to get the skillet as hot as possible.
Place the dough on a clean counter, and use your hands to shape it to the size and shape of your skillet.
Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and add the oil, swirling the skillet so it is fully coated.
Place the shaped dough into the skillet.
Spoon the pizza sauce into the centre of the dough, then spread outwards in a circular motion, using the back of the spoon. Leave a space around the edge for the crust to form.
Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.
Put the skillet back into the oven and bake for 14-16 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Place the pizza on a cutting board and add the basil leaves to garnish.
Francesco Martucci from I Masanielli in the Campania region of Italy has been named the best pizzaiolo in the world for a third year running. See the full list as well as all the international winners.