Introduction: Perfect Cast Iron Campfire Pizza
I really love pizza, however, in light of the current pandemic, I have not been visiting my favorite pizza restaurants lately. In order to fill my craving, I've been experimenting with different methods of making pizza. One of my favorite methods of making pizza at home has been using a campfire and a cast iron skillet to bake it. This method isn't super difficult, it's really fun to do and it's the closest I've come to a pizza cooked in a traditional pizza oven.
For The Dough: (makes three ~8" personal Pizzas)
- 1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour (300g)
- 1 cup warm water (200g)
- 1 teaspoon yeast (3g)
- 1 teaspoon salt (8g)
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil (6g) + more for grea
- Pizza Sauce
- Cheese (shredded or fresh)
- Basil (optional)
- Any other toppings of your choice!
- Mixing Bowl or Container (and something to cover it)
- Flat surface (this could be a countertop if you want to make this at home and simply cook it outside, or if you want to make it from start to finish outside this could be a cutting board or large flat rock.)
- Hot campfire
- Cast Iron Skillet with a lid
Step 1: Prepare the Dough
About three hours before you plan on cooking the pizza, you must prepare the dough. The dough will need about three hours to rise, however, if it is very warm out it may rise in just two hours, conversely, if it is cold out it may need four.
To make the dough, combine the warm water, yeast, and olive oil in a mixing bowl. If you are using active yeast, allow it to sit for 5 minutes, if you are using instant you do not need to wait. Next, add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together, if it is really sticky you may need to add more flour. Once the dough comes together into a ball, knead by hand for four minutes until it is smooth and somewhat elastic. Allow the dough to rest for about 20 minutes and then knead again for four more minutes. Roll the dough around until it is a nice ball, it should be very soft and smooth on the surface. Lightly oil the mixing bowl and place the ball in it, cover the bowl and let it rest for about three hours until it is double or almost triple in size. While you wait for it to rise, you can begin to prepare your fire.
Step 2: Prepare the Fire
While the dough is rising you must build your fire. I'm not going to go into great detail on how to build a fire, but I will provide most of what you need to know. About two hours before you plan on baking the pizza, gather fire materials, you may not need this long if you already have firewood stocked up. If you are somewhat new to fire making, here is what you need to know:
- Collect plenty of kindling: I like to make three piles, one pile for very very small twigs, one for medium twigs, and one for large ones.
- Collect a bunch logs of all sizes: like the kindling, you will want different sized logs starting from 1 inch wide up to 8 inches wide
- Gather more material than you think you'll need, you don't want to run out of material after you start your fire.
- Start small and work bigger: when I start my fires, I build a small pile starting with paper or tree bark tinder then I layer on small twigs followed by larger twigs. Once the fire is lit I add small branches and then once those start to catch, I add the logs
- Continue to feed the fire logs once it is lit, you will want a lot of hot coals to cook on
- Start your fire at least an hour in advance of when you wish to bake.
- It is important to check your local burn laws before starting a fire, to see when and if you can burn in your area.
- Another important thing to note when having a fire is where the closest source of water is if you are in a dry area and there isn't a close-by source it isn't a bad idea to have a bucket of water nearby.
- If you do this camping make sure to pack a first aid kit.
Step 3: Prepare Your Pizza
After your dough has risen for around three hours, or after it has doubled and your fire has been burning for about an hour, you can begin to make your pizza. Given you are using a cast-iron skillet that is around 10 inches, you will want to divide your dough into three equal pieces, that should then be shaped into balls. Set two of the balls aside and begin to shape one of them into a disc. You can roll it or press it into shape, or you can get fancy and start throwing it in the air, just keep shaping it into a disc until it is about the size of your skillet. Once it is the size you want it, dust one side with cornmeal and place it in a lightly oiled cast-iron skillet. Preform one last stretch to make it to match the size of your skillet. Now, rub the surface with sauce and place on cheese to your liking; I'm not going to tell you how much, that seems like a personal decision.
Step 4: Bake the Pizza on the Fire
It's time to bake the first pizza! To bake first place the lid on your skillet with the prepared pizza inside. Next, look for a spot on the fire that is mostly glowing coals, place the skillet on top of the coals. The time it takes for the pizza to cook is very dependent on how hot your fire is. I have found the pizza to usually cooks between 6-10 minutes on a campfire. After about four minutes, use the potholes to slide the skillet away from the fire, lift the lid, and using a spatula check to see if the bottom is brown. If the entire bottom is brown it needs more time, if half of the bottom is brown and half is pale, then rotate the skillet to the pale side is closer to the center of the fire. Check the pizza again in a few minutes and gauge whether the pizza needs rotated, or if it is done. The pizza is done when the cheese is melted and the entire bottom is evenly brown.
Step 5: Repeat With Other Pizzas
Once your first pizza is done, you can start the next one. Once you have removed the skillet from the fire, add basil to the pizza and take the lid off and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Then, use the tongs and spatula together to lift the pizza out and place it on a clean surface. Use the spatula to carefully scrape out and the remaining cornmeal then turn the skillet on its side to let the cornmeal fall out. Carefully repeat steps 3 and 4, the skillet is now hot so you must be more careful.
Step 6: That's It
You did it, your pizza is done! Cut your pizza and serve however you wish. I hope you enjoyed this recipe walkthrough.
Taking this recipe Camping:
If you want to make this recipe on a camping trip, it can easily be modified to be more portable. There isn't really a lightweight replacement for the cast iron skillet, however, you could bring a smaller one and make more smaller pies. Instead of using a mixing bowl, put the flour and instant yeast in one Ziploc bag and the liquids in another. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and perform the kneading inside the bag or on a portable cutting board. Leave the dough in an oiled bag to rise with plenty of space to rise. Use a portable cutting board to shape the pizzas. Don't forget oil and cornmeal or the pizzas will stick to the skillet.
Second Prize in the
Outdoor Cooking Speed Challenge