Party-Pan Pizza

pizza

Because I worked as a baker for a good portion of my life, for some reason, people mistakenly get it into their heads that I worked early morning hours. But anyone that has spent any time with me in the morning knows I am one to be feared if forced to interact with others before noon. When I worked in the restaurant, my shifts actually began in mid-afternoon, and I would get home around 2am. Which to me, were my kinda hours.

olive oil in pizza doughpizza dough
pizza dough ballroasted tomatoes

However every once in a while, I would do my penance and be assigned to work the dreaded morning shift, which started at the challenging hour of 8am. Which meant I had to get up a lot earlier to make it to work on time. The regular kitchen staff got there at 6am, and by the time I arrived, they were all coffee’d up and in full-on work mode. And believe it or not, some of them were kind of cheery.

oven-roasted tomatoes

In spite of having to occasionally work with Mr. Grumpy, the morning prep crew are truly the unsung heroes of professional kitchens, and they get there early to do things like chop onions, make sauces, take produce and meat deliveries, and survey and make sure anything left over from the previous evening gets dealt with. I liked working with those folks because they were not typical line cooks, with line cook mentalities, but were people either who had families and wanted to be home at night, or people who were starting out as cooks and were being trained. And perhaps a few of them were the dreaded “morning people” and just wanted to work in the morning.

After I had several coffees and after several hours of the staff avoiding the cranky dude filling tart shells, churning ice cream, and whipping up cake batters, avoiding contact with anyone, I became “normal.”

garlic oil for pizza

Right before lunch service, there was usually time for a quick staff meal. Because these people worked so hard, it was usually a sandwich made hastily for last night’s leftovers, or something reheated. For some reason, I got it into my head that I would make pizza for staff meal. Perhaps to redeem myself for my earlier behavior?

pizza dough pizza dough

Chez Panisse was, of course, known for its thin-crusted, wood-fired pizzas, which people referred to (and misnamed) as “gourmet pizza” at the time, since many Americans just knew sheet-pan pizza, or pizza as large, round, cheesy pies.

pizza dough rolling pizza dough pan

Because I manned big pastry ovens, and didn’t have the time (or skill) to make the beautiful pizzas they were making upstairs in the wood-fired oven, I would grab a generous boule of pizza dough they were mixing up, and make a giant sheet-pan pizza, which, for lack of a better term, I’d call party-pan pizza. Secret: Restaurants workers like to eat the opposite of the food they’re preparing all day. And sheet-pan pizza seemed to fit the bill.

pizza

Am not sure why I named it “party” pizza, at the time, but you can take that as license to top it with whatever you want. Oven-roasted tomatoes, grated cheese, olives, spicy chorizo sausage, and ham can be used. Sautéed mushrooms, roasted eggplant, capers, stewed onions, pesto or torn basil leaves, and sautéed greens are other possible guests to invite to your own pizza, to make it a party.

pizza

Party-Pan Pizza

Four to six servings


Dough adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters


This kind of pizza is perfect to make for folks that shy away from pizza, thinking that it’s fussy or the dough is hard to deal with. In fact, nothing could be easier and it really just takes about five to ten minutes of work. And you don’t have to worry about shaping it in perfect rounds.

One of the secrets of working with yeasted dough is that soon after you start rolling and pulling it, it’ll become more resistant and “fight” back a bit. Instead of struggling with it, let it sit for five minutes to relax, then go back and work with it. You’ll find it a lot easier to handle. If you want to make more traditional pizzas with this dough, just divide it in two.

For the pizza shown, I used 2 pounds (1kg) tomatoes, oven-roasted, 2 sautéed onions, 6 slices of country-style ham (jambon de Bayonne), a few slices of chorizo, 1/2 cup pesto, 6 ounces (180g) grated Comté cheese, and 8 ounces (240g) fresh mozzarella.


Garlic Oil

1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced


Pizza Dough

  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) tepid water
  • pinch of sugar
  • 3 cups (400g), plus 1/4 cup (35g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (35g) whole wheat or rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) cold water

1. Mix the olive oil and garlic together and set aside for a few hours.

2. To make the dough, make the starter by mixing the yeast, 1/2 cup water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. (If making the dough by hand, mix them in a large bowl.) Stir in the 1/4 cup of flour and whole wheat flour, and let stand 30 minutes undisturbed, until foamy.

3. Mix in the salt, the 3 cups flour, then the olive oil and 3/4 cup water. Knead for five minutes with the dough hook attachment, or by hand, until a smooth, but slightly sticky ball of dough is formed. If it seems too wet, knead a bit more flour into it, if necessary.

4. Oil a large bowl and put the ball of dough into the bowl, then flip it over, so the oiled side it up. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

(After the dough has risen, you can punch it down and refrigerate it for a few hours, or overnight. Let come to room temperature before continuing.)

5. Preheat the oven to 500ºF (260ºC) or as high as possible.

6. Sprinkle cornmeal over an 11 x 17-inch (28 x 43cm) baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper. Roll the dough on a lightly floured countertop to approximately the size of the baking sheet. If the dough pulls back, let it rest a few minutes before continuing. Then lift the dough and stretch it out, then place the dough on the baking sheet, fitting it to the edges of the pan.

7. Brush a 1-inch (3cm) swath of just the garlic oil (without pieces of garlic in it) around the rim of the pizza dough, then smear the garlic and the rest of the oil over the rest of the interior surface of the dough.

8. Top the pizza with whatever toppings you wish (see post or suggestions in headnote.)

9. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, until the bottom is cooked and the top is golden brown.

Depending on your oven, you may need to monkey around a bit with figuring out which rack to bake it one. Usually I start mine on the lower rack, to get the bottom cooked, then move it to an upper rack to brown the top. Of course, if you have a pizza stone, use that under the baking pan for a crisper bottom crust.


Related Links and Recipes

Yeast Conversion Table (Red Star Yeast)

Potato and Blue Cheese Pizza

Tomato-Basil Pizza

Pesto

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

70 comments

  • Party-Pan Pizza makes me smile: cooking for my family of six calls for just that size. ;-)
    I like to roll and stretch the dough on a sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal or farina, then pull the parchment with the dough onto a rimless baking sheet or an upturned rimmed one. Once the pizza is ready to go into the oven, I slide the whole thing onto a baking sheet that I have preheated in the oven (the transfer works quite well with the open oven and the rack with the hot sheet pulled out).

    My Ge oven, with a pizza stone at the bottom (a slate slab work well too), preheated AT 550°F for half an hour, would produce a perfect pan pizza, on the second rack from the bottom, in 8 to 10 minutes, depending on how thick it was layered. A thin regular pizza, pulled with the parchment paper directly onto the preheated stone, took 4 minutes at most.

  • After a longer than expected renovation, our oven is finally hooked up.
    One of the first meals? PIZZA! Can’t wait.

  • mniam! :)

  • Yum, this looks so delicious!

  • I had to laugh at your post! I am a morning person. I get up at 4am and I am ready to go- no coffee needed! However, by 9pm, my day has come to a close, so if I know I will have a late night (my boyfriend and all his friends are night-owls), I must have a nap during the day or I will be the grumpy one!

  • um, YUM! That looks so good! I could eat it right now, even at 9.30am haha

  • This looks great! What type of French flour would you recommend for the whole wheat?

  • this looks absolutely delicious… thank you for the recipe… xv

  • Hi Dave… Your thoughts on roasting an heirloom tomato…?? They seem to have alot more moisture content so I’m wondering if the roasting procedure is different.. Nice looking pizza, by the way….

    • It’s very rare to come across heirloom tomatoes, or tomates à l’ancienne in Paris (except for the dubious hot-house varieties, grown more of color than flavor) so I haven’t had experience roasting them. If I had access to them, I would probably just eat – and use them – fresh.

  • This looks so fabulous!! What an awesome idea for a party :)

  • I made your tomato basil pizza last year and it was the best pizza I had ever eaten so can’t wait to try this version with your dough recipe.

  • This is the pizza of my dreams…even at 7am.

  • You said….”It’ll become more resistant and “fight” back a bit. Instead of struggling with it, let it sit for five minutes to relax, then go back and work with it. You’ll find it a lot easier to handle.”

    I couldn’t help thinking of my husband and I when we argue. LOL. Solid advice, even if you weren’t talking about relationships. HA!

    xoxo
    Cheri

  • Saturday is Pizza and a Movie night at our house, and we manage to get through most of a double recipe of dough made into two big pies.

  • So, David, you don’t like the results of letting the dough ferment a day or two in the frig? I find the taste and texture so far superior I can’t go back to the quick rise method. For most foodies planning a little ahead isn’t really a problem.

  • Can I use instant yeast? This looks delicious.

  • This looks like a great staff dinner! When I worked in a Michelin kitchen I was constantly appalled at the quality of staff dinners. Obviously they’re going to be made with the leftover bits and pieces, but that seemed to be an excuse for them to be badly cooked too. The only compensation was getting to raid the leftover pieces of cheese from the incredible cheeseboard. Cooking something like this would have instantly won the person who made it a place in my heart!

  • Elsie: Most likely you can, although I don’t have much experience using it. Just follow the instructions by the manufacturer for swapping it out for regular dry yeast.

    latafiolesucrée: They didn’t do that at Chez Panisse with the pizza dough (to the best of my recollection), and we didn’t have complaints about it. But folks can certainly do so, and I mentioned in the recipe instructions that putting it in the refrigerator was a possibility, which I do at home if I have time or plan to use it later.

    Cheri: Food as a metaphor for life! : )

    Zoe: Glad you liked the other pizza. This one is different, but my guests really loved it.

  • This looks delish David! Wish a had a slice right now. Adding chorizo sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to try it.
    ~ Caroline

  • Homemade pizza in my Nordicware baking pans is the only way!
    with caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, and pancetta! The best!

  • I love hearing about your time working at Chez. About 5 years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a quickbread workshop taught by Chez Panisse pastry cook Siew-Chinn Chin. She encouraged me to come stage at Chez. This was the first restaurant I ever worked in. One of my favorite parts of the day was the lunch. After a morning of baking and counting “ossi dei morti” and “langues de chat” cookies, slicing and sorting fresh cherries, hulling strawberries with a “bird peak” knife, and washing and trimming fig leaves, it was time for tasters, and then lunch. This was the best lunch I ever had, consisting of leftovers from the night before: ravioli, salad, fish, white bean soup, and crème fraiche ice cream, over casual conversation with the other cooks. I will never forget my experience at that beautiful restaurant.

  • Yum! Thank you for the inspiration. Will go make one too.

  • I like the addition of rye. While I don’t make pizza myself very often, I usually leave that to the pros, when I do, I like to make it something not si typique of what I’d find in a restaurant.

  • Oh my! This looks lovely! Your mid-afternoon to 2am shift sounds like my kind of hours, too :) lucky coworkers! I’d be thrilled if we did this kind of thing mid-day where I work :)

    • The only problem was that I would wake up and have a full day of taking care of other things, then go to work. After a number of years, I realized I was almost working 2 jobs. Unfortunately I never learned to “sleep in” !

  • Great story. I love the insight on how a restaurant works! A sneak preview to my studies next year. Thank you for sharing!

  • My kinda pizza. Yum yum Diane

  • Of course, in the south of France, pizza or pissladiere as it is known there, is always rectangular. You buy a cut piece, rather than too much.
    Big bone of contention who had it first. And I have never seen one with pineapple topping, which is a plus.
    The most common topping is slow cooked herby-olive-oily onions, covered with a lattice of anchovies and olives and or capers placed in the little squares. Base is always thin and as crisp as possible.

  • I make my pizza dough in my bread maker using 00 flour and flat beer as the liquid. I pull the dough to have it fit my pan, let it rest four 15 minutes then add ingredients and bake or grill. Best pizza ever. Also, I use instant yeast for my recipe and the dough always turns out perfect.

  • @ron shapley,
    I roasted heirloom tomatoes last summer when the bounty was more than we could eat while fresh. There really is no difference to the technique except for the time. I roasted in a ceramic cooker (a Big Green Egg) and the temperature was about 500F. Cooked until the tomatoes were slightly charred and the juices had reduced a little. Sometimes, I cooked them down until the texture and flavor was almost jam-like. Incredibly good and my prefered way to prepare them. Think I’ll do that this year for all the tomatoes.

  • Oh I love this, and the oven-roasted tomatoes are a must!

  • Oh, this brings back such memories! I too used to bake professionally, and back in the day, it was the same pan, same “party” for the crew, and possibly the same, marginally crispy crust–whatever we could manage from an old deck oven. Bakers suffering brown-lung (cocoa), white-lung (flour) and sticky skin (sugar) do a hasty job on a savory party pizza.
    I have to mention, I will be returning to Paris in a few weeks, after many years, and cannot wait to try some of your recommended places! Thanks for all the great info you post.

  • My homemade pizza, one of the first more involved things I learned to make that wasn’t cookies or box cakes, looked very much like this.

    I would make a giant pot of pizza sauce and freeze it in bags so when Friday night came along, I would be all ready to make my dough and grate my cheese and prep my toppings.

    My children grew up on party-pan pizza I suppose!

    I haven’t made it in quite some years…. maybe when our NYC heat wave passes I can fire up the oven again… then again, maybe just on the pavement would suffice!!

    Beautiful!!

  • Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm !!!!!!

  • Night people, unite! I can’t actually “think” before noon. Homemade pizza is the best and once you’ve had it, pizzeria pizza will pale by comparison. Their “freshly made ingredients” just don’t stand up to the real thing. I especially like your oven-roasted tomatoes.

    My only suggestion is to bake the pizza crust by itself for 3 minutes, take it out, put the toppings on and then put it back in the oven. This helps to assure a crisp bottom crust. As to your last sentence, it you have a pizza stone, why wouldn’t you just bake the pizza on the stone without the baking sheet?

  • mmmm… that looks AMAZING!!!

  • Love reading your posts:). There is something about your writing style that I like so much:)

  • Looks so delish .We can’t wait to try.

  • Thank you! I love reading your blog. I can not wait to make this. Thank you too for allowing pins on Pinterest. I love bookmarking your recipes that I’m eager to try.

    • Because I use Flickr to host images, I didn’t realize that I had to toggle something there to allow “Pinning” on Pinterest. So it’s all fixed – and thanks for your kinds words, and glad you like the recipes!

  • The pizza looks incredible…and I suspect you went from “grumpy guy” to “hero”!

  • oo it’s so pretty, and feeds a crowd! love it!

  • Great job, nice story…this looks like comfort food pizza, the kind to sink your teeth into. A lot of us are stuck on thin crust right now, so it’s refreshing to see this variation. Good job to the pastry man.

  • It is 2:44 AM here in California (I’m having a wee spot of insomnia) and you are making me hungry! There is little I love more than pizza. I have mozzarella in the fridge and heirloom tomatoes on the counter and I just made pesto yesterday. Hmm. I like that you’ve included some whole wheat or rye flour in your crust recipe.

  • Just wondering what is the fresh yeast substitution for the dry yeast used here. Looks like a simple, killer recipe. thanks.

  • I am one of those ‘dreaded’ morning people and always do my clearing up of parties the next day, when the kitchen is quiet and empty of (still sleeping) people! I Love making homemade pizza. A friend once had a pizza party using produce from their garden and baked in the barbecue, was very delicious and very memorable.

  • yum, this sounds delicious! I am always trying to find a great recipe for pizza that isn’t the normal cheesy, greasy staple. With some tomatoes and various other produce growing in the backyard, my family will enjoy a wonderful pizza! thankd david!

  • Oh David! First time commenter, long time “lurker” on your blog. Thank You so much for your blog! I had to comment because tonight happened to be the night for me to make grilled pizza, it’s been months, and it came out awesome! Then, I read this and had to laugh because after many years of being a kitchen “wench” years ago, in many places, this is what I would feed our staff…pizza! Simple food, well made always made people happy!

  • Makes my day to stop by and see what you’ve been cooking up for your friends. This certainly doesn’t disappoint!

  • The party pizza looks yummy.. I am sure it will taste better.

  • This looks amazing. I bet you could successfully grill it, too.

  • Amazing recipe! I have tried lots of pizza recipes, since I absolutely adore pizzas, this is the very greatest. Easy, quick, crispy and delicious dough. I wonder whether it would be possible to store it in the freezer for those days you dont feel like cooking or if it would be ruined. It may seem a silly question but I am not an experienced cook.

  • I love the idea of using a baking tray instead of a pizza stone. Definitely one to try.

  • Let me know if you’re interested in my Kebab-Frites Pizza recipe or my Taco Pizza recipe! I’m also working on a “French Pizza” recipe…I’ll keep you posted.

  • Yummy! I usually consider pizza junk food but when its made with fresh veggies I have to have a slice now and then!

  • I wake up hideously perky, much to my friend and husband’s dismay, so I can appreciate your story…also, this pizza looks fabulous, so that’s just a double bonus to boot as far as I’m concerned!

  • I’m a night owl, too – it’s when all the fun stuff happens, right? ;) This pizza looks awesome – I’m going to give it a whirl this weekend.

  • The pizza looks amazing! And just the inspiration I need to get back into pizza night again.

  • Oh gosh, I’ve been so busy with summer I have spent an entire day catching up on blog posts. I had forgotten to make sure the frig was full before I returned here after being absent….. :O I am famished… for sweet french pastries and pizza, Thank You Always David :}

  • Okay. I have been cooking from food blogs for 7 years now (that’s pretty long in blog years, right?) (starting with Smitten Kitchen), and I have made some really, incredibly delicious things from them. But in all those years and all those recipes, I have never once come back to the post to comment after making it, no matter how much I loved it. Just didn’t cross my mind. But this? This. . .it’s just. . .I had to come back here immediately to thank you. I made this for my family last night, for a slow and lazy Saturday evening meal. The little prep steps (getting the tomatoes ready to go into the oven, putting the dough together then letting it rise, sauteing some onions and mushrooms then setting them aside, etc) done lazily with long wait periods in between just seemed perfect. But the result? So much more than the sum of those parts. I’ve made many pizza doughs, and I really can’t figure out why this one is so much better, but it just knocked our socks off. Maybe it was the brushing of garlic infused oil? With the genius idea of just letting it steep rather than cooking it and risking bitterness? I don’t know, but my husband and I were blown away, and my 6 year old and 3 year old each ate their entire piece without any cajoling from us–an unusual indication of dinnertime greatness. Anyway. I’ll stop gushing now. But David, my friend, between this pizza, your chocolate sorbet that I’ve been making for 3 years now, and your virtual hand-holding while I worked my way through my first kouign amann? Well, it’s just a good thing I’m not in Paris or I would be finding your doorstep and hanging out there until I could wrap you in a hug and pledge my devotion to you. With my husband next to me, rolling his eyes and apologizing for my craziness, no doubt. You’re a genius!

  • What an amazing idea…

    I am always looking for fun ways to feed our gang when we get together. My kids will absolutely love this….

  • Funny, I should know better, but, yes, I, too picture bakers getting in at 3 am and having the fresh bread ready for the customers to enjoy with their morning coffee. But, of course, it all depends on what shift you’re working.

    I like my own slow-rise, no-knead pizza dough, but I may have to try this after reading the comments from Kara.

  • Yowzer. This looks like my kind of party! (Roasted tomatoes make all the difference…)

  • Hi David,

    I, too, am a pastry chef who detests working early morning hours. Thanks for representing!

    This pizza looks amazing – totally making it for the next party I host or attend. The toppings sound phenomenal. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi David,

    I just showed it to my Mom and so we decided to give it a try to make a pizza and we follow your instructions carefully and we placed the pizza in our convection oven and preheat it under 500ºF (260ºC) well – it turns out to be fine only there are some burned crust in the pizza, maybe we’ve just make a thin crust pizza so that it easily burns under 500ºF. We’ll just try it again next week…”practice makes perfect” my Mom said. Thanks and More Power!!

  • I just tried this and it was sooo delicious! The dough was a snap to throw together and still came out chewy on the inside and crispy on the bottom. Thanks!