MoM Aug ’09 ATK American Classics: Pepperoni Pan Pizza

We’re still cruising through our Magazine of the Month selection, America’s Test Kitchen’s ancillary publication of “American Classics”.

Actually, I take the “cruising” comment back. Earlier this month we were cruising. Seeing as how the month is up in two weeks and I’ve only gone through three of the recipes, cruise control is off and I’m racing to the finish line like Snake Plissken racing to the Manhattan containment wall! Save me, Lee Van Cleef!

At any rate, I’m hoping to have a total of three selections from the MoM up by the end of the week.

Sliced Pepperoni Pan Pizza

So let’s talk pepperoni pizza. I love the idea of making pizza at home, but crust is often an issue for me: If I have to purchase dough, I figure I may as well skip the whole thing and just get delivery. After going through a multitude of different pan pizza crusts, the Test Kitchen came up with one that isn’t greasy or overly doughy, and is very little effort. I made my dough entirely in my food processor and no kneading is necessary. The pizzas can be made in 90 minutes from start to finish, which isn’t bad when you’re making the dough from scratch!

Degreasing the pepperoni is also a quick and effective little trick — it’s microwaved on paper towels for 30 seconds before topping them on your pie.

Baked Pepperoni Pan Pizza

I would have added more pepperoni than what you see here, but I made a mistake and accidentally bought some perverted concoction that had been marinated in Tabasco sauce. Hoo boy, was that hot! Had this been normal pepperoni, I would have thrown on twice as much.

Pepperoni Pan Pizza – Dough
Adapted from ATK American Classics
Makes two 9-inch pizzas

1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons skim milk, warmed to 110 degrees
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Lightly grease large bowl with cooking spray. Coat each of two 9-inch cake pans with 3 tablespoons olive oil.

Mix milk, sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in measuring cup. Mix flour, yeast and salt in food processor. Set machine to dough and pulse to mix dry ingredients together. In three batches, add milk mixture while pulsing the dough. After the dough comes together, turn the machine to on, and let the dough mix together until it forms a ball and is smooth (about 2 minutes). Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, gently shape into a ball, and place in the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Transfer dough to lightly floured surface, divide in half, and lightly roll each half into a ball. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, roll and shape dough into 9 1/2-inch round and press with knuckles 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.

Precooked Pepperoni Pan Pizza

I found that this dough was not at all difficult to work with. It doesn’t require kneading and doesn’t need a lot of flour in order to roll out. It’s not sticky, is easy to handle, and rolls out quickly without making a mess.

Pepperoni Pan Pizza – Tomato Sauce
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
table salt and ground black pepper

Topping
1 (3.5 ounce) package sliced pepperoni
3 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

While dough rises, cook oil and garlic in medium saucepan over low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, increase heat to medium, and cook until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Put half of pepperoni on single layer on microwave-safe plate lined with 2 paper towels. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Discard paper towels and set pepperoni aside, repeat with remaining pepperoni and paper towels.

To assemble: Remove plastic wrap from dough. Ladle 2/3 cup sauce on each round, leaving 1/2 inch border around edges. Sprinkle each with 1 1/2 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.

Pepperoni Pan Pizza

Other than the extra-hot pepperoni, I loved these little pizzas. I’d be proud to make these for an informal get together on a Friday night. The simple, crushed tomato sauce with garlic, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper was delicious and supported the pepperoni and cheese nicely. The pizzas do take a bit longer than a weeknight meal should (especially if you’re super hungry) but they turn out really well and are, surprisingly enough, really filling.

Our Magazine of the Month has this pizza, plus a gazillion more great American classics, so it would be well worth your while to pick up a copy. It will be on the stands until mid-October.

No, I don’t get any money to promote it, I just feel obligated to!

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