You know, until recently, I never really got the appeal of cheese pizza. Growing up, my pizza of choice was always ham and pineapple. Fast-forward many, many years and I’ve pretty much tried every type of pizza. Even so, amidst my extensive eating of porchetta pizzas, grilled-cheese pizzas, and caramelized-shrimp pizzas, I’ve been slow to answer the siren song of the regular-old, cheese-topped classic slice.
But now, I’ve gone to the dark and cheesy side. I’m all about cheese pizza, which is in no way plain. First off, we need to consider the base of all pizzas: the crust. My go-to is Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough. It comes together ridiculously easily and bakes up beautifully. Essentially, all you do is stir together flour, water, salt, and yeast, and wait for time to do its thing. The next day, you have gloriously soft and silky pizza dough, just waiting for sauce and cheese.
I shaped my dough in a cast-iron pan — because I like the extra heat that cast iron brings to the bottom of your crust. I’m adamantly against soggy crusts, and when home-baking pizzas, cast-iron pans are the workhorse that will give you crispy crust every time. I sprinkled the sauce with a bit of crushed fennel for depth, as well as some crushed garlic (because garlic and tomatoes are best friends). On top of that deliciousness, the cheese was added in layers: mozzarella on the bottom, then parmesan, then brie, then dollops of ricotta. The melt of the mozzarella, the nuttiness of the parmesan, the creaminess of the brie, and the freshness of the ricotta make this cheese pizza a winner.
Related: Goat Cheese Toasts With Balsamic And Roasted Tomatoes
makes 1 pizza
1 ball no-knead pizza dough
1/3 – 1/2 cup pizza sauce, depending on how saucy you like your pizza
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp toasted fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 small wheel of brie, cut or ripped into chunks
1/4 cup ricotta
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Red pepper flakes, to serve
1. Arrange a rack in middle of the oven and preheat to its hottest setting, 500°F– 550°F.2. Lightly oil a cast-iron pan and dust lightly with cornmeal, if desired.3. Shape dough into a circle, pushing gently. Spread the sauce almost to the edges and sprinkle on the garlic and fennel seeds.4. Top with the shredded mozzarella, parmesan, brie, and ricotta.5. Grind on a generous amount of pepper and place in the oven to bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is puffy, crisp, and slightly blistered. Enjoy immediately with red pepper flakes.