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Backcountry Quarantine Cooking

Cast Iron Skillet Potato Crust Pizza with Lentine Alexis

by Lentine Alexis

If you have instant potato flakes in the pantry, you’re halfway to PIZZA. That’s right! Instant potatoes make a fantastic, quick-rising homemade pizza crust, at home or in camp. The crust is risen and ready to bake in an hour, but you can slow the process by tossing it in the fridge or in the cooler while you go head out for a hike or finish up your day’s work. This recipe gives you two options for how to top your pizza – a simple margherita and a fancy herby mushroom + burrata situation. Use these suggestions as a jumping off point to make your own creations – you can top with anything you have in your cooler or fridge. Cooking your pizza in a 10” skillet will yield a thicker crust, while using a larger 12” skillet allows you to shape a thinner crust. 

Cast Iron Skillet Potato Crust Pizza

Makes two 10” or 12” pizzas

Ingredients: 

For the pizza crust

 

  • 4oz instant mashed potatoes, dry
  • 2oz warm water (80-105°F degrees)
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2 ¼ cup all purpose or bread flour
  • 6oz cool water, plus up to 8oz more to make dough
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp honey

 

For the toppings: 

For margherita pizzas: 

 

  • ½ cup favorite tomato sauce (homemade, or in a jar) 
  • 4 small balls of burrata, torn into pieces
  • 1 small handful fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parmesan cheese

 

OR

 

For herby mushroom + burrata pizzas:

 

  • 1 ½ cups fresh mushrooms, sauteéd in olive oil with 1 clove garlic + ½ tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 4 balls of burrata, torn into pieces
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 handful fresh arugula
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Make the pizza dough: 

In a small bowl, combine the active dry yeast with 2oz warm water and 1 tablespoon honey. Whisk until dissolved. Allow to stand until the mixture is frothy, about 5 minutes. 

In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with 6 oz water, instant potato flakes, flour and lastly, the salt. (Adding the salt directly to the yeast will kill the yeast!) Mix with your hands, squeezing and twisting to bring together a dough. You will likely need more water to make a dough come together, especially if using bread flour. Add water to the dough mixture in 1 tablespoon increments until a smooth, elastic ball of dough forms. 

Leave the dough in the mixing bowl, cover with plastic and allow to stand to rise one hour. If you are planning to make pizza many hours later, place the dough in the fridge to slow the rise, in a cooler in camp, or in a shady place. The warmer the yeast, the faster it will rise. 

After the hour has passed, and when the dough has nearly doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down, then divide it into two balls. 

Preheat your cast-iron skillet over high heat. Meanwhile, stretch your dough into a circle ample enough to fit into your skillet. Once your pan is very hot, brush the cast-iron generously with olive oil then carefully place the dough into the skillet, pushing out with your fingers to fill the skillet. 

Brush the top side of the dough with olive oil. Allow the pizza dough to cook and sizzle until well toasted and fragrant, you’ll smell a slight charred scent. Using a metal spatula and a bit of skill, flip the pizza dough over to the newly oiled side. The side cooked first will be the top of your pizza. 

 

For margherita pizzas: 

While the bottom cooks, spread the tomato sauce over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with pieces of burrata and fresh basil leaves. Allow to cook until the bottom is fragrant and smells faintly charred. You can speed the melting of the burrata by placing a cutting board or lid over your skillet to trap the heat. Remove the pizza from the skillet, repeat the process with the second ball of dough. Slice and enjoy! 

 

For herby mushroom and burrata pizzas: 

While the bottom cooks, spread the yogurt over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with sautéed mushrooms (raw mushrooms will not cook amply over the heat in this case, so be sure to cook them ahead of time!) and pieces of burrata. Add lemon zest easily over the pizza, then top with pieces of arugula. Cover the skillet with a lid or cutting board to trap heat and allow the flavors to melt and the cheese to melt.  Allow to cook until the bottom is fragrant and smells faintly charred. Remove the pizza from the skillet, repeat the process with the second ball of dough. Slice and enjoy!

Lentine Alexis is a pro chef and cyclist based in Boulder, CO. Check out more of her recipes at lentinealexis.com.