Instructions

  1. To make the dough: Mix and knead all of the ingredients together — by hand, mixer, or using the dough cycle on a bread machine — to make a smooth, soft dough. Don't over-knead the dough; it should hold together, but can still look fairly rough on the surface.
  2. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes; then refrigerate it for 4 hours (or up to 36 hours); this step will develop the crust's flavor. Make sure you have the dough in a large covered bowl, or put it into a large, lightly greased plastic bag; leave plenty of room for expansion.
  3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to rest and warm up a bit while you prepare the filling and the pan.
  4. Cut the block of cheese into 1/4" slices, then stack the slices and cut each into four pieces; a pair of scissors works well here. The cheese chunks should be about 1/4" x 1" x 1/2".
  5. Use vegetable oil pan spray to lightly grease an 18" x 13" baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of the pan.
  6. To assemble and bake the pizza: Gently flatten the dough into a rough 10" to 12" oval, and heap it with the cut-up block cheese.
  7. Fold the edges into the middle to enclose the cheese. Gently pat and stretch it into a rough rectangle, and place it in the prepared pan.
  8. Press the dough over the bottom of the pan, stretching it towards the edges. You'll probably get about two-thirds of the way there before the dough starts shrinking back; walk away for 10 minutes. When you come back, you should be able to pat it closer to the corners of the pan. Repeat the rest and dough-stretch one more time; your goal is to get the dough to fill the pan as fully as possible.
  9. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 30 minutes to an hour (or longer, for thicker crust). Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  10. Spread the sauce in a thin film over the crust. Bake the pizza on the lower oven rack for 8 minutes.
  11. Remove it from the oven, and arrange the meat and shredded cheese on top.
  12. Return to the oven, and bake on the upper oven rack for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned, both top and bottom. Check it midway through, and move it to the bottom rack if the top is browning too much, or the bottom not enough.
  13. Remove the pizza from the oven, and transfer it from the pan to a rack to cool slightly before serving. For easiest serving, cut into squares with a pair of scissors.
  14. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to a month.

Tips from our Bakers

  • For pizza with an extra-crisp bottom crust, place a baking steel or stone in the middle of your oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. Divide the cheese-stuffed dough in half, then pat and stretch each half into a 10" to 12" circle on a lightly greased piece of parchment (let the dough pieces rest and relax if they start shrinking back). Proceed with the recipe instructions as written, baking the pizzas one at a time on the hot steel or stone. You'll need to monitor the pizzas during the second bake, after they've been in the oven for 10 minutes, because the heat from your steel or stone will likely cause browning and cheese-bubbling to occur more quickly.
  • Use the lesser amount of water in summer, the greater amount in winter (and something in between in spring and fall).
  • Feel free to choose your own favorite cheese, anything from mild mozzarella or Muenster to jalapeño jack or an assertive flavored cheddar.