Cast Iron Pizza – When you Want the Wood-fired Texture Without the Wood Fire

My family has a passion for eating pizza, and fortunately my fiancé David has a passion for making pizza.

Pizza came to America with Italian immigrants in the beginning of the 20th century. Pizzerias started popping up in places like Boston, New York and Chicago around 1905. Just like in Italy, American pizza came to have regional differences in crust, sauce and other elements. 

At our kitchen in Jacksonport, we have evolved to making our pizza in a cast iron pan. It is our way to recreate a wood-fired oven effect without the wood-fired oven. The crust stays pliable, yet crispy on the bottom and around the edges. The goal is to create a crust that holds the ingredients without getting wet and becoming limp. 

The ingredients we choose come through a meeting of the minds. We share memories of the best pizzas we remember eating and we build from there. We blend our memories and create concoctions on our own, some simple and some a bit more complicated, building new memories along the way. 

When our pizza chef announces it’s pizza night, we know we aren’t going to bed hungry.


• 14-inch cast iron skillet (smaller skillets will work too, just adjust the amount of dough)
• Wooden spatula (to loosen the crust and slide the pizza out of the pan)
• KitchenAid mixer 
• Large cutting board 
• Bowls for rising dough, pottery or glass work best
• Plastic wrap


Photo by Rachel Lukas.

Makes two 14-inch pizzas

• 4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 packet yeast 
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 1 tbsp of salt
• Drizzle of olive oil
• 2 cups warm water (may not use all of it)
• 1 tbsp cornmeal (preferably rough cut)

Step 1

Using a mixer with a dough hook attachment, add all dry ingredients to the mixing bowl. Drizzle olive oil around the edge of the bowl, this stops the ingredients from sticking to the bowl. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add the water (you may not use all of it). Watch the consistency of the dough. You will know you added enough water and the dough is ready when the bowl is clean and nothing is sticking to it. The dough will form a ball in the middle of the bowl. The dough is perfect when it is elastic, holds its form and is not too wet.

Flour your hands and remove the dough from the bowl, cleaning all the dough from the hook.

Form the dough into a ball and cut in half. You may need to flour your hands a second time so the dough will not stick to you. 

Step 2

Using one ball at a time, you will stretch and tuck the dough into a neatly formed ball. Lightly dust the ball and place in a bowl to rise. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and set in a warm area in your kitchen. Repeat with the second ball. Allow the dough to sit for a minimum of 1 hour until the dough doubles in size. 

*Note, dough can be made a day ahead of time. Wrap each individual ball in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. If you do, let it sit out at room temperature for one hour before you proceed to step 3.

Step 3

Lightly flour your work surface and your hands. Remove dough from the bowl and press down with the palm of your hand to create a disk shape. Using your hands and gravity, pick the disk up by the edge and work the dough by stretching and thinning it out. Holding the dough in your hands, spin and work around the full circumference until the dough is relatively thin. At this point you can toss the dough into the air if you are comfortable (it takes practice!). If you’re not comfortable throwing the dough, use your fists to stretch and pull the dough into shape, taking care not to tear holes in the dough. You can also set the dough on the work surface and pull and stretch until you reach the desired size. You want the dough about an inch larger than the circumference of the pan as it will shrink when baking. The goal is to get the dough thin and about an inch larger than the skillet.

Photo by Rachel Lukas.

*Using a rolling pin makes the dough too dense and heavy. This practice removes the air from the dough itself.

Step 4

Sprinkle the cornmeal into the skillet. To place the dough into the skillet, hold one side of the dough with your hand. Fold the other half of the dough over the same hand. Lift and unfold the dough and place in the skillet.

Step 5

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Top the crust and bake. Each pizza should take about 15 minutes.


Photo by Rachel Lukas.


Preheat oven 350 degrees

• 1 head garlic, busted into individual cloves and peeled

• 2 tbsp pepperoncini, chopped 

• Olive oil

Place the garlic cloves and pepperoncini in an oven-proof bowl. Add enough oil to cover the ingredients. Place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes. You will know it’s ready when the aroma fills your kitchen. Carefully remove the bowl from the oven and set aside to cool.

Brush the crust with the Roasted Garlic Pepperoncini Oil, ensuring it is fully coated. 

• Tsp dried oregano 
• ⅛ cup onion, diced 
• ¼ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
• ⅛ cup sliced black olives
• 4 oz feta
• 4 oz shredded mozzarella

Sprinkle the oregano on the crust and add the additional ingredients, add the cheese last. We like to add the feta and finish with a light dusting of shredded mozzarella and bake (see note above).



Margherita pizza. Photos by Rachel Lukas.

We typically purchase the red sauce in a jar and embellish it with herbs and peppers. We use oregano, basil and sometimes add a bit of thai chili paste for extra spice.

• ¼ cup light red sauce
• Ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
• Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
• Fresh basil

Using a large spoon, place the sauce in the middle of the crust. Spread the sauce circling the crust until you reach the edge. Add the fresh mozzarella and tomato slices. Bake and add the fresh basil once you remove it from the oven.


• ¼ cup – spicy red sauce (add the thai chili paste to the sauce)
• ⅛ cup onion, 
• ⅛ cup black olives
• ⅛ cup mushrooms, sliced 
• ¼ cup pepperoni 
• ½ cup shredded mozzarella
• Sprinkle of dried oregano

Using a large spoon, place the sauce in the middle of the crust. Spread the sauce circling the crust until you reach the edge. Add the ingredients, placement is key, don’t layer too many things on top of one another. Cover with the cheese and a sprinkle of oregano. Bake and enjoy.


Using a long wooden spatula, loosen the edges of the pizza from the skillet. Slide the pizza onto the large cutting board, slice and serve. I like to have a cheese shaker and crushed red peppers around. Pizza night pairs perfectly with a little Dean Martin, Louis Prima and Old Blue Eyes.

Mangia Mangia!