Introduction: PIZZA-CEPTION: Pizza-Stuffed Crust Pizza! (with Vegetarian and Plain Cheese Options!)
I absolutely love homemade pizzas, because you can throw every topping you have in your fridge on top and it will come out costing you about 6 bucks. But what if you aren't satisfied with merely slathering a disc of dough with sauce and loading it up with cheese? In a traditional pizza, you are bound by such trivial physical limits as the surface area and weight-bearing strength of your dough. So when going on top isn't enough, there's only one place left TO go.....
This is my recipe and method for doing a stuffed-crust pizza. But why stop there? We live in a consumerist society my friend, and our motto is MOAR! Why not jam that space in the crust with ALL the pizza fixings?? Why not make...
A PIZZA WITHIN A PIZZA *BWOOOOOOOOM*
I'm a vegetarian but my boyfriend is not, so I've included a meat option, a veggie option, and a plain cheese one for those of you who for some reason feel like limiting your indulgences.
Step 1: Get Your Ingredients and Prepare Your Toppings!
We used store-bought whole wheat dough from Longo's, but any pizza dough recipe will work the same way. One bag of dough made two fairly large pizzas, more than enough to feed 4 people.
We made two types of pizza:
Pesto and goat cheese base with caramelized onion, mushroom, hot pepper and mozarella.
Tomato sauce with bacon, mushroom, caramelized onion, jalapeno, pepperoni, red pepper and mozarella.
Because it's going inside the crust, the bacon (and other meat like chicken or ground beef if you so choose) should be cooked ahead of time. Cut all your veggies first, then cut your meat to eliminate cross-contamination. If there's any ingredient in big chunks, make sure to dice a small amount of it so it'll fit nicely into the crust.
Step 2: Prep Your Dough!
On a lightly floured surface, shape your dough into a ball and roll it out (or toss it in the air, if you're awesome like that.) I like to let the dough rest stretched out on the counter for a few minutes to let the gluten relax and help it keep its shape. Generously sprinkle a baking sheet with corn meal (this helps it not to stick and adds a nice textural effect.) Then, move your dough onto the cookie sheet.
Step 3: Stuff That Crust!
The "secret" ingredient here is string cheese. It's conveniently shaped for putting into the crust, and it has that awesome stretch that makes stuffed crust so satisfying. It also holds up well and has less of a tendency to melt down and leak out. If you want it to be SUPER cheesy, you can use them as-is; if you want to be a little more reserved, or if you're making smaller pizzas, split them in half.
Line the edges with your string cheese bits, leaving about 1/4" inch of dough around the outside. If you're only using cheese, now you can roll the dough over the cheese and pinch it tightly closed to seal the cheese inside. It's important that this is super-tight!
Step 4: Stuff It With MORE!
If you're going whole-hog, squeeze a thin line of pizza sauce on top of the cheese. Sprinkle your other diced ingredients on top, and proceed the same way as with the plain cheese version. It's a little messier, but try to keep your dough clean. The pizza sauce will make it a bit slippery and harder to get a total seal.
Step 5: Par-bake It!
Throw it into a 400F oven for about 5 minutes. This just helps the dough to seal and keep its shape.
Step 6: Add More Toppings!
Take it out of the oven and add your sauce, cheeses, and whatever other toppings you're using. Put it back in, and bake for 15-30 more minutes, depending on your particular pizza and oven. There's no real guideline here, you have to keep an eye on it. When you think it's done, slide a thin metal spatula underneath and make sure the bottom is cooked as well.
Step 7: Devour!
Take your pizza out, let it rest for a bit, and then slice that bad boy up. I recommend eating the front half like a regular pizza, then taking your awesome fat crust and dipping it in some marinara or dipping sauce like the world's best breadstick. Sriracha optional but highly recommended.