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Question about making pizza from scratch

I want to make my own pizza from scratch, and am thinking of using a cast-iron pan or griddle for baking the dough. My problem is how to transfer the shaped dough into the hot pan.

The pan needs to be preheated first, to 450 or 500 degrees. I've read that it is possible to shape the dough directly inside the hot pan. This would let me avoid the "transfer dough to oven" problem. But the act of shaping dough inside a hot pan seems dangerous (risk of getting my hands burned).

My question: Can pizza dough be safely shaped inside a preheated cast-iron pan? Or does the dough need to be shaped in a different place and then somehow transferred to the pan?

Please do not advise me to buy a pizza peel and stone. Maybe in the future I will buy them. But at this point I just want to use what I already own, and I already have a cast-iron pan and griddle.

Thanks.

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  1. I would try to shape the dough on a well floured cutting board, then slide it into the preheated cast iron pan. Well floured will let your pizza dough slide easily, then you can just dust it off after baking if it's too floury on the bottom.

    1. Flour like bobabear mentioned, or cornmeal works too.

      1. I make my own pizza from scratch and use a cast iron pan a lot, especially when making personal pizzas - they are the perfect size and come out very round and nice-looking.

        Flatten and shape the dough on a pizza board. Using oven mitts, put the hot iron pan upside down over the dough that is on the board and flip. You can use the mitts to perfect any part of the dough that didn't make it. If you like a thick crust, you can take a separate piece of dough, roll it into a long, thin worm-like shape and wrap it inside the pan around the edges.

        Good luck

        1. I use parchment paper - I shape the dough on it and then put the whole thing on the preheated pan, paper and all. The edges are pretty brown by the time the pizza is done but it's no problem otherwise.

          5 Replies
          1. re: biondanonima

            This has been the best method for me, too. I had a tough time the one time I ran out of parchment paper. You want the cast iron to be as hot as possible. I do cut the parchment about 1-2" from the edge of the pizza but leave one longer edge for easier transfer,

            1. re: chowser

              Yea, I leave a "handle" on 2 sides of the parchment paper to more easily move the dough onto the hot pan. I also oil & cornmeal it, too.

              1. re: pine time

                I don't use oil or cornmeal w/ parchment. I also like parchment because I can make all the pizzas I want at the same time and slide one in when the previous is done. It's hard to premake multiple pizzas w/out because they can stick.

                1. re: chowser

                  Another vote for parchment. It will get "crispy" in a hot oven though, so keep an eye on it.

                  With or without cornmeal/semolina/flour, doesn't matter. I go back and forth.

                  Pizza peels and stones are really overrated. I have bought several of both through the years (from medium to expensive in price) and found I ultimately like my pizzas much better when cooked at 550 on parchment, which only ends up taking a few minutes.

                  To get a really crispy crust and let your long-proofed dough create those blackened crispy bubbles like at pizza shops, sometimes I stick my untopped crust under the broiler for a couple minutes, then flip and add toppings, then slide the whole thing on parchment directly onto the rack.

            2. re: biondanonima

              Same for me. Oven as hot as it will go with stone inside for a good 30 minutes. I shape the dough on parchment and just slide it on. Sometimes it crinkles to nothing but as you mentioned not an issue if you handle carefully. I started trimming the edges to lessen the amount of burned crinkled paper that can crumble into pieces.

            3. Before I had a pizza stone and peel, I heated the cast iron pan upside down and then dropped the dough onto it. Worked pretty well.

              1. Thank you everyone, for all the great suggestions.

                1. I love making pizza in a cast iron pan. I make one as one would barbecue pizza. I heat the pan up on the stove so that it is very hot, not smoking though, I lay the pizza dough in the pan and I only top it after I flip it. I finish it in the oven under the broiler. It is more unconventional but still delicious.

                  1. Have any of you tried using a silicone mat? I think the process may be the same as with parchment paper: I could shape the dough on the mat, carry the mat (with the dough) into the oven, and put it on top of the preheated pan. Because silicone doesn't burn, the mat can stay in the oven throughout the baking process.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: JCook233

                      Silicone mats shouldn't be heated above 450 F, which isn't hot enough for pizza.

                      1. I've done it for years and I don't bother preheating the pan. It cooks fine.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: rasputina

                          Preheating the pan makes a big difference if you're hoping to recreate the slightly charred effect created by the hot stone floor of a real pizza oven.

                          1. re: caganer

                            Many years ago I got a stiff piece of thick cardboard and cut a circle the same size as my pizza stone.
                            I preheat the stone in the oven. Roll out my thin crusts. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the cardboard circle. Slide the pizza dough onto the circle. Take it to the oven. Open the door. Carefully slide the rack holding the stone out of the oven about half way. Slide/shake the pizza crust gently off the cardboard circle onto the pizza stone. Slide the rack carefully back in. Close the door. Watch as the pizza dough bubbles up. Open the oven and flatten the dough to remove the big bubbles. When the top is just starting to color I reverse the operation and turn the crust over and do the same on the other side. Then remove to the counter to let cool while I do the other crusts. They turn out nice and firm but not brittle.
                            When the pizzas have been 'built' and are ready for the oven I use the cardboard the same way. When the pizzas are done and ready to remove I use an oven mitt and a pair of tongs to slide the cooked pizza onto the cardboard circle then slide the pizza onto the cutting board ready to slice.
                            My homemade cardboard circle lives alongside the oven until needed. Had it for years.

                            1. re: caganer

                              If I'm going for real pizza oven experience I'm cooking it at 800 degrees + on my big green egg on the pizza stone ( and I do the parchment method then, slipping it off after about 30 seconds) not in the house. Having said that, when I want to make a good pizza without the time to preheat the ceramic oven I will cook it inside on cast iron and I don't bother to preheat.

                          2. Some of you mentioned flipping the pizza over. Is flipping really needed? It seems to make the process a lot more difficult.

                            If I understand this correctly (and please let me know if I am wrong) 2 flippings would be needed: a flipping to get the dough into a bottom-side up position, and then a 2nd flipping to get the dough right-side up. The final position would need to be right-side up so the toppings could be added.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: JCook233

                              I'm curious as to why you don't just make pizzas on a stone? Seems to be you're trying to reinvent the wheel using a skillet. The whole point of using a flat pizza stone is not having to do what you appear to want to do. Respectfully.

                              1. re: JCook233

                                I don't know why you'd want to flip it either. I make pizza all the time, and have never flipped it. I make a great pizza, better than most pizza joints.

                                1. re: CanadaGirl

                                  The only time I flip a crust is if I'm doubling up and one crust is on my pizza stone and the other is on my "air bake" cookie sheet. The air bake one just needs a flip to get a better crust started prior to topping. I give that one to my toddler who doesn't care for super crispy crusts and we all are happy

                              2. I preform a bit on the bench and in the air, and finish pressing in the pan. It's not a super hot pan but it's hot. And I work fast. And dangerously

                                1. I would use parchment paper to shape the dough. Then, rather than use a pizza peel, I just use a baking sheet. I own a pizza peel, but I usually just use the baking sheet.

                                  You won't be able to shape the dough in the hot pan. Ignoring the danger of burning yourself, the dough will start to cook immediately, making it impossible to shape it easily. But, that immediate cooking is what makes the pizza so good!!