Hellllllllllllllo, summer. Tomatoes and watermelon are the two foods that truly represent summer for me. Corn on the cob, fresh berries, and BBQ are close seconds. I love seeing plants ornamented with colorful cherry tomatoes this time of year. I know people take great pleasure in eating them fresh from their vine, still warm from the sun. I however, prefer my tomatoes warm from the oven and a little wrinkly. Better yet, cooked on top of a pillowy cheesy skillet pizza.
This is a fun pizza to make. Albeit, the dough is time consuming. It’s an overnight dough, so you’ll need to prepare it a day in advance of serving it. That being said, it’s so delicious. It’s full of flavor and has a soft Chicago pizza style texture. Crisp along the edges and pillowy inside. It’s super cheesy and the cherry tomatoes add a fresh burst of flavor in each bite. The technique of building the pizza is interesting too. You place the dough in the skillet and then top with a thick layer of cheese before you top the cheese with tomato sauce. This change in order protects the crust from getting soggy from the sauce. A little more cheese, then topped with cherry tomatoes. It’s as delicious as it is beautiful. Serve with a fresh summer salad and enjoy!
Cherry Tomato Skillet Pizza
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. instant or active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus 1/2 tbsp. for the pan
- 1 1/4 cups mozzarella, grated (6 oz.), divided
- 1/3 cup tomato sauce or pizza sauce
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half length wise
- sprinkling of fresh basil and parmesan
- Combine the flour, salt, yeast, water, and 1 tbsp. of the olive oil in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large mixing bowl). Mix for about 30 seconds, using the paddle attachment, until the dough is shaggy and no longer has flour streaks. This will take 1 minute by hand. Gather dough by hand to create a ball and cover the bowl for 5 minutes.
- Uncover the bowl and using your hands or a bowl scraper, lift one side of the dough and stretch the bottom of the dough up and over the top, creating a fold.
- Re-cover the bowl, and after 5 minutes, turn the bowl 90 degrees and do another fold. Wait 5 more minutes and repeat, turning the bowl 90 degrees with each fold; then another 5 minutes, and do your fourth and final fold. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest in a warm spot for 40 minutes.
- Refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or up to 72 hours.
- About 3 hours before serving, prepare your pan. Pour 1½ tablespoons of olive oil into a cast iron skillet (about a 10” pan). Tilt the pan to spread the oil evenly along the bottom. Use your fingers or a paper towel to ensure the oil reaches up the sides a swell.
- Transfer the dough into the pan and turn it once to coat each side with oil. Press the dough to the edges of the pan, dimpling it and stretching it with your fingertips. If the dough resists, let it rest for 15 minutes and repeat the dimpling process. If it still shrinks back, give it 15 additional minutes until it stays along the edges.
- Cover and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature. It will be soft and pillowy when ready.
- Position oven rack at the bottom and one up near the top. Preheat the oven to 450F degrees.
- When ready to bake, sprinkle the pizza with 1 cup of mozzarella. Cover the entirely so you can’t see any dough. Spoon dollops of sauce over the cheese (this prevents the dough from getting soggy from the sauce). Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top of the sauce. Place cherry tomatoes, cut side up, in a pretty arrangement on top of the cheese.
- Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pizza to the top rack for a few additional minutes if the top seems too pale.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and carefully run a knife along the edges. Carefully transfer it from the pan to a cooling rack or cutting surface. Sprinkle optional fresh basil and Parmesan over the top. Slice and serve.