New Haven is famous for pizza – not the Chicago kind, or the Domino’s/Little Caesar versions either. The stuff here is really thin, has only a tiny smattering of sauce, and is cooked in brick ovens at temperatures that produce black blisters on the crust and a slight charcoal dust on the bottom of every piece. And when you order mozzarella cheese on your pie you’d better not pronounce it Mahz-uh-rella or they will know you are from out of town. The correct pronunciation is MOOTZ. If you want to try this pizza you will have to either build yourself a brick oven in the backyard, or come visit us so we can take you to Sally’s or Pepe’s. This recipe isn’t a knock-off of New Haven pizza. It’s what I like to make when I get tired of New Haven pizza and have a hankering for a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza. It was inspired by America’s Test Kitchen.
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 6 tablespoons for the pans
2 teaspoons sugar
¾ cups + 2 tablespoons skim milk (this is 7 oz.)
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 package instant yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon table salt
1 (3/5-ounce) package sliced pepperoni
1 1/3 cups tomato sauce
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Heat oven to 200 degrees. When it reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray. Coat the bottom of each of two 9-in cake pans with 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Mix milk, sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in measuring cup. Mix flour, yeast, and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium-low and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter, gently shape into ball, and place in greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
To shape the dough: transfer dough to lightly floured counter, divide in half, and lightly roll each half into ball. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, roll and shape dough into 9 ½ inch round and press into oiled pan. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm spot (not in oven) until puffy and slightly risen, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees.
While dough rises, put half of pepperoni in single layer on microwave-safe plate lined with 2 paper towels. Cover with 2 more paper towels and microwave on high for 15 seconds. Discard towels and set pepperoni aside; repeat with new paper towels and remaining pepperoni. This is a great method for de-greasing the pepperoni. I you love puddles of orange grease on your pizza just disregard this step.
Remove plastic wrap from dough. Ladle 2/3 cup sauce on each round, leaving ½ inch border around edges. Sprinkle each with 1 ½ cups cheese and top with pepperoni. Bake until cheese is melted and pepperoni is browning around edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let pizzas rest in pans for 1 minute. Using spatula, transfer pizzas to cutting board and cut each into 8 wedges. Serve.
Variations: Sometimes you might get tired of the same old pepperoni pizza. I made a barbequed chicken pizza with this method using barbeque sauce, cubes of cooked chicken breast, slightly sautéed red onions, and cheese. It was amazing. Next I think I’ll try a Thai chicken pizza.
Equipment notes: America’s Test Kitchen used black and heavy 9-inch cake pans with tall straight sides. I found similar pans at Bed Bath and Beyond, and although they were expensive, they worked well. I can’t vouch for any other type of pan, but if you have success with another type of pan please let me know.
Nutrition notes: I know the amount of olive oil in the pan seems excessive, but come on, it’s monounsaturated! Besides that, it gives the crust this really great crunch. You can skimp on this if you want, but why?