Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

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Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza baked hot and bubbly and garnished with fennel fronds.

I say start the new year with pizza! Yes, that’s right, crispy, cheesy, flavour-packed Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza. We can not make just any pizza, it truly needs to be a cast-iron pizza to start the new year right. It creates the best golden and crisp underside that you’ll ever create at home, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making all your pizzas this way. Most new year resolutions include some form of healthy eating, but I think the new year (because it’s gonna be great) deserves full-on, carefree, in your face deliciousness. The sausage and fennel combination has not only become my new favourite, cooking it in a cast-iron pan tips it over the edge of my pizza nirvana. So move over plain ol’ pepperoni pizza… grown-up pizza just walked in.

A cast iron skillet full of of ingredients for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.
Pizza dough, marinara sauce and fennel ready for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.

With the new year upon us, we have no choice but to be hopeful for a more user-friendly year. Even though I can consider 2020 a good year, it hasn’t been without its frustrations, and for many people, it has been a year of hardship and heartache. While we can’t eat cheesy, sausage laden pizza all the time, it’s a good reminder to enjoy a few of the simpler things that we can. It’s also great fun to create homemade pizza at home with loved ones lending a helping hand.

All the best in 2021, let’s eat!

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.
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Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Course Main Course
Keyword baked, cast iron, cast iron pizza, fennel, garlic, Italian sausage, mozzerella, olive oil, pizza, pizza dough
Cook Time 14 minutes
Resting time 5 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 8-10 ounces pizza dough homemade or store-bought
  • 8 ounces Italian sausage about 2 links, casing removed
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1/3 cup marinara sauce homemade or store bought
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced plus fronds for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Set oven rack to its uppermost position. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  • Drizzle room temperature pizza dough with 1 tbsp olive oil and press out to a 10" round. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 10" cast-iron skillet. Add Italian sausage and cook over medium, breaking up any large pieces. Once cooked and slightly crisp remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • With the heat still on medium/low, immediately lay pizza dough in the pan, stretching out to the edges using a spatula or spoon if necessary. Top dough with marinara, then mozzarella, fennel, garlic and sausage. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and check the underside which should be starting to brown and crisp. Transfer pan to oven and bake until bubbling, about 10-14 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes, and fennel fronds or fresh basil. Lift out of the pan and cut into wedges and serve.

Notes

-The dough will press out better on a wooden surface such as a cutting board as opposed to granite or super-smooth surfaces.
-I prefer a thinner crust and opt for 8 ounces of dough vs 10.  It is 10 ounces pictured in the blog.
-Makes one 10" pizza, however, a 12" cast-iron skillet would work too, just use the 10 ounces of dough.  There's plenty of topping, so there's no need to adjust unless you'd like more cheese.
-The original recipe from Bon Appétit suggests garnishing with fresh basil, however, I enjoy using fresh fennel fronds instead, but it's a matter of preference and both are delicious. 

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Skillet Flatbread

Skillet Flatbread

Skillet Flatbread

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Skillet Flatbread stacked three high on a wooden serving plate and garnished with zahtar.

Do you have flour, yeast, oil and salt? It is all you need to make golden, slightly crisp and chewy Skillet Flatbread. The recipe is super easy without a lot of fuss, and the flatbread is delicious with just about anything. I like mine sprinkled with a zahtar spice mix but you can eat it plain, or with your favourite herb or spice mix. So get ready to dunk, dip and scoop all your tastiest soups, stews and tagines because you’ll be making this time and time again.

Risen dough in a large bowl resting on a wooden platter in preparation for Skillet Flatbread.

Any non-stick skillet will work for this recipe even though I’ve suggested using a cast-iron skillet. The dough is uncomplicated and can be pressed or rolled into any shape, however, I opted for 9” circles which cook evenly and quickly, and it fits nicely in my 10” skillet. This Skillet Flatbread will keep for several days in a sealed container but can also be frozen for use later. When thawed, give it a gentle warming in the microwave or low oven. Eating it at room temperature is perfectly tasty but I prefer it slightly warm. Enjoy!

Skillet Flatbread cut into triangles and served on a wooden serving plate and garnished with zahtar.

Skillet Flatbread
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    3 9" flatbreads 20-25 minutes
    Cook Time Passive Time
    32 minutes 70 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    3 9" flatbreads 20-25 minutes
    Cook Time Passive Time
    32 minutes 70 minutes
    Skillet Flatbread
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      3 9" flatbreads 20-25 minutes
      Cook Time Passive Time
      32 minutes 70 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      3 9" flatbreads 20-25 minutes
      Cook Time Passive Time
      32 minutes 70 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: 9" flatbreads
      Instructions
      1. Combine yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Allow fermenting for 10 minutes.
      2. Stir in 1 cup of flour, I tbsp olive oil and salt. Add another half a cup of flour and begin kneading. Knead until the flour is absorbed and continue adding flour by the tablespoon until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and is no longer sticky. I used 2 1/4 cups of flour in total. Knead until dough is smooth, about 7 minutes.
      3. Coat a large bowl with 1 tsp of olive oil. Form dough into a ball and place in the bowl, turn to coat in oil. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour.
      4. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Roll or press one dough portion into a 9" round. Drizzle 1 tsp of canola oil into the hot skillet. When the oil is hot add the prepared rolled dough. Cook for about 4 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed.
      5. While the flatbread is cooking roll the remaining dough portions into 9" rounds.
      6. Remove flatbread from skillet and drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with Zaatar if desired.

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      Easy Homemade Baguettes

      Easy Homemade Baguettes

      EASY HOMEMADE BAGUETTES

      Easy Homemade Baguettes stacked two high and one sliced with butter in the foreground.

       

      Homemade bread is easy!

       

      Glorious, chewy, crusty bread is at your fingertips with these Easy Homemade Baguettes. The recipe is credited to Dan Leader’s 4-hour Baguette and I’ve done little to alter the recipe other than reducing the amount of salt and put it in my own words. Many types of bread can be made within 4 hours, so you may be wondering why this recipe is anything special. A traditional French Baguette starts with some kind of “starter” usually consisting of a partial amount of the flour, water and yeast. This starter is left to ferment for many hours and often overnight, making it a lengthy process. The benefit of using a starter is to promote more flavour and a better texture. Dan Leader’s 4-hour Baguette is a wonderful recipe because it creates a similar result in much less time.

      Dough rising in a glass bowl for Easy Homemade Baguettes

      Dan Leader does this in a couple of ways. The first being the delayed addition of the salt. The salt is added after the dough has rested and hydrated. Salt inhibits yeast growth, so by adding it at a later stage allows the yeast to develop better, creating more flavour. The second is an additional rise after folding the dough. The folding helps to stretch out the gluten strands and therefore helps to create a nice texture. The additional rise also helps with yeast development and better flavour.

      Dough resting and rising on a wooden board with a bench scraper in the background.

      Adding ice to a hot pan placed below the baking rack will ensure a lovely crust on your baguettes by allowing the dough to rise fully before a crust forms.

      Food 52 calls this a genius recipe and I can see why. A few deliberate actions in the recipe saves a whole lot of time and produces wonderful results. If you love homemade bread, this recipe is a must try. Enjoy!

      Baguette dough rising in a metal baguette pan on a linen kitchen towel.

      Are you new to baking, wanting to improve your baking, or maybe you just want to make baking more convenient and fun?  Have you ever thought of creating a baking station?  The rather handy and informative Porch website has a great article on how to do just that.  It provides unique and inspiring ideas of how to create, organize and have fun with a baking station.  It’s a great idea and a good read How to Create the Ultimate Home Baking Station 

      Three Easy Homemade Baguettes are baked golden and resting on a wooden board with a linen kitchen towel.

      Three Easy Homemade Baguettes are baked golden and resting on a wooden board with a linen kitchen towel.
      Easy Homemade Baguettes
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        3 baguettes 4 hours
        Cook Time
        25 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        3 baguettes 4 hours
        Cook Time
        25 minutes
        Three Easy Homemade Baguettes are baked golden and resting on a wooden board with a linen kitchen towel.
        Easy Homemade Baguettes
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          3 baguettes 4 hours
          Cook Time
          25 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          3 baguettes 4 hours
          Cook Time
          25 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: baguettes
          Instructions
          1. In a large bowl stir together water and yeast and allow to ferment for about 10 minutes until foamy.
          2. Add 2 3/4 cups of flour and stir until moisture is absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate.
          3. Flour your work surface with a sprinkle of the remaining flour. Dump out dough onto your work surface and sprinkle with salt and a tablespoon of flour to knead the dough without it being too sticky. Continue kneading the dough and adding flour by the tablespoon until dough is smooth but still a little tacky, about 8 minutes. Using a bench scraper to lift the dough off the counter helps until it becomes less sticky. The exact amount of flour is dependant on your working conditions and existing moisture in the flour you are using.
          4. Place dough in a large lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for 60 minutes until double in size.
          5. Remove dough to your work surface and using your fingers push and spread dough to remove air pockets and to shape into an approximate 8"x 6" rectangle. Fold the long sides of the dough into the centre and then fold the top and bottom into the centre. Place the folded dough back into the bowl, seam side down. Cover and allow to rise for 60 minutes.
          6. Preheat oven to 475℉ and place a heatproof pan or cast iron skillet on the rack below your centre baking rack. If using a baking stone, place it in the oven to preheat as well.
          7. Divide dough into 3 equal portions and roll each into an approximate 14" log. Allowing the dough to rest for 60-second pauses between rolling will help the dough relax and hold its shape when rolled. Place shaped logs onto a baguette pan. Alternatively, you can lay logs onto lightly floured parchment that sits on a rimless baking tray. Leave enough space between the logs to pinch the parchment and lift up, creating pleats between the logs. Place rolled kitchen towels on both ends of the parchment to provide support. Cover and allow to rise for 50 minutes.
          8. Using a sharp knife or bread lame, make at least four 4" slashes across each loaf. Add ice cubes to the hot pan in the oven and place baguettes on centre rack above. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and baguettes sound hollow when tapped. If using parchment, remove towels and pull parchment by the corners to flatten. Place pan in the oven as indicated above onto your preheated baking stone or simply on the middle rack if not using a stone.
          Recipe Notes

          -The exact amount of flour needed is dependent on many factors such as humidity and type of flour. Keep a small portion of flour aside and add by the tablespoon until the dough is smooth yet still tacky.  By all means, use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to knead the dough if desired.

          -Use an upside-down baking tray if you do not have a rimless one.

          -A baguette pan is an inexpensive investment that allows the loaves to brown evenly on all sides.

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          Grilled Prosciutto and Asparagus Flatbread

          Grilled Prosciutto and Asparagus Flatbread

          Grilled Prosciutto and Asparagus Flatbread cut into wedges on a wooden cutting board.

          May is National Barbecue Month…

           

          So fire up your grill for this amazing Grilled Prosciutto and Asparagus Flatbread. There’s so much that can be cooked on the barbeque/grill and today I’m gonna tell you how easy it is to grill bread.

          You would normally think that the dough would stick terribly to the grates, however, as the dough cooks and forms a crust on the bottom it pulls away from the grates making it virtually non stick. There is a fine line between perfectly golden and crispy to overdone, so you want to watch it closely. Depending on your grill and heat setting, the first side takes only 5-6 minutes to form that slightly charred crust.

          Fresh ingredients for Grilled Prosciutto and Asparagus Flatbread arranged on a wooden cutting board.

          Tips for grilling bread

           

          1. Grill small portions of bread instead of one large piece. This not only allows for more uniform cooking, but it’s also easier to flatten and move smaller portions to the grill.
          2. Don’t try to make the flatbread perfectly shaped, it just won’t happen! The dough shrinks up and morphs into a shape of its own when you pick it up and move it to the grill. It’s okay to be a little rustic!
          3. Make sure your grill is scraped clean to prevent sticking. A small amount of non-stick spray applied before grilling can also help.
          4. Don’t overcrowd the toppings. The dough is almost cooked when you flip it over, therefore too many toppings will require an excessive amount of time to heat through, causing the dough to overcook.
          5. Have all your toppings ready prior to starting.
          6. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your favourite toppings, but if you’re aiming for something smothered in melty cheese this type of flatbread is not for you. Too much cheese will not melt in the time it takes the flatbread to cook.
          7. When camping, make the dough at home ahead of time. After the first rise split dough in half, punch down and seal in two medium freezer bags. Place in fridge or freezer to stop the rising process. Allow to come to room temperature and proceed with recipe.

          Grilling is a huge part of our cooking during the summer months, both at home and when we are out camping and overlanding. You can see more of what we do outdoors at Mark Bouliane – YouTube Eating well and having fun with food is important to us, both at home and when travelling in our jeep. Because the grill is our primary cooking source when adventuring outdoors, dishes like Grilled Prosciutto and Asparagus Flatbread only adds to the fun of it all and makes us feel like we aren’t compromising. It’s great at home or anywhere else you happen to grill. Enjoy!

          Grilled Prosciutto and Asparagus Flatbread cut into wedges on a wooden cutting board.
          Grilled Prosciutto and Asparagus Flatbread
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            2 12x8 flatbreads 50 minutes
            Cook Time Passive Time
            10 minutes 70-80 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            2 12x8 flatbreads 50 minutes
            Cook Time Passive Time
            10 minutes 70-80 minutes
            Grilled Prosciutto and Asparagus Flatbread cut into wedges on a wooden cutting board.
            Grilled Prosciutto and Asparagus Flatbread
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              2 12x8 flatbreads 50 minutes
              Cook Time Passive Time
              10 minutes 70-80 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              2 12x8 flatbreads 50 minutes
              Cook Time Passive Time
              10 minutes 70-80 minutes
              Ingredients
              Dough
              Flatbread
              Servings: 12x8 flatbreads
              Instructions
              Dough
              1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together water, honey and yeast. Allow to ferment for 6-8 minutes.
              2. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of flour, olive oil and salt. Begin kneading, allowing all the flour to be absorbed before adding more. Add additional flour gradually until dough is soft, subtle and no longer sticky to the touch, about 8 minutes. The exact amount of flour will vary.
              3. Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil. Shape dough into a ball and place in bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm, draft free area until double in size, about 1 hour.
              Flatbread
              1. Slice prosciutto into 1/4" strips. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high and cook prosciutto until crisp, stirring often. This will take 8-10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
              2. Preheat grill to medium.
              3. Cut the woody 1-2" off the bottom of the asparagus spears. If they are thick spears, shave the bottoms lightly with a vegetable peeler to make them uniform in width. Rub spears lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
              4. Place asparagus directly on grill against the grain of the grills. Grill for 4-6 minutes until crisp-tender, turning once or twice. Remove from grill and set aside.
              5. In a small bowl whisk together 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, basil, salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cut asparagus into 1" pieces and toss with a drizzle of lemon and oil, saving the remainder for finished flatbread.
              6. Deflate the dough by kneading 3-4 times and divide the dough into two portions. Cover lightly and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. This will help relax the dough and make it easier to flatten. Spread and press one portion out to an approximate 13"x8" rectangle on a flat, movable surface like a cutting board or back of a baking tray.
              7. Peel dough off of surface in one motion if possible and lay on preheated grill. Spread out corners slightly if possible. Close lid and cook for about 5-6 minutes until golden and crisp on the bottom. The time will vary depending on your grill and heat setting. Poke any large air bubbles and flip dough over.
              8. Immediately scatter on half of the asparagus, prosciutto and crumbled goat cheese. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of parmesan and close the lid. Allow to cook for 3-4 more minutes to warm toppings and finish cooking the dough. Remove to a cutting board and cut into wedges. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and lemon juice and serve immediately.
              Recipe Notes

              -The dough will shrink up some when transferred to the grill, there's no stopping this, don't fight it!  I can usually grab and stretch out a couple corners once it is on the grill, but once it's on I don't mess with it much.

               

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              Cinnamon Raisin Challah

              Cinnamon Raisin Challah

              Do you fondly remember raisin bread as a child?  I do, yet these days my husband and I tend to eat cinnamon raisin bagels more so than the bread.  I couldn’t resist giving the raisin bread I remember some new life.  This loaf is sweet and eggy with lots of cinnamon, a pinch of cardamom, plump raisins and a sprinkling of coarse sugar. 

              What is Challah?

              In very basic terms, Challah is a braided yeast bread made with eggs.  So by this definition, one can imagine the possibilities for variations.  

              Traditionally however, Challah is an egg-rich, braided bread eaten in the Jewish cuisine on ceremonial occasions. The term Challah is also a reference to the separation of a portion of the bread for an offering. 

              To me, it’s a darn tasty way to enjoy toast in the morning!

              About this Challah

              In this recipe, I opted to use brown sugar because I wanted that hint of molasses.  I also added a small amount of cardamom because I think it is wonderful in baked goods.  The raisins are pre-plumped, mostly because mine were looking a little dry. The top is dusted generously with coarse sugar for a little extra indulgence and crunch.  This loaf was braided with only 3 strands, but by all means, use a 5 or 6 strand braid if you prefer.  

              Enjoy!

              Baked and golden Cinnamon Raisin Challah braid rests on a wooden trivet that is draped with a navy and brown napkin. The loaf has two slices cut and resting at the front of the loaf. A knife and apricot jam sit to the side.
              Cinnamon Raisin Challah
              Print Recipe
                Servings
                1 large loaf
                Servings
                1 large loaf
                Baked and golden Cinnamon Raisin Challah braid rests on a wooden trivet that is draped with a navy and brown napkin. The loaf has two slices cut and resting at the front of the loaf. A knife and apricot jam sit to the side.
                Cinnamon Raisin Challah
                Print Recipe
                  Servings
                  1 large loaf
                  Servings
                  1 large loaf
                  Ingredients
                  Servings: large loaf
                  Instructions
                  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook stir together water, brown sugar and yeast. Allow to proof for 7-8 minutes.
                  2. Stir in 2 whole eggs, egg yolks, oil, and raisins. To this mixture add 2 cups of flour, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Begin kneading, allowing all the flour to be absorbed. Add remaining flour gradually until dough begins to pull away from the sides and is smooth about 7-8 minutes. The dough will be a little sticky but you should be able to handle it without additional flour.
                  3. Lightly oil a large bowl and turn out dough into bowl flipping to coat sides. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a draft-free area for 90 minutes. (It will not appear to be double in size)
                  4. Remove dough and knead a few times to punch out the air. Divide dough into 3 equal portions of approximately 300g each. Allow dough to rest for about 5 minutes. This helps relax the dough and will make it easier to roll into logs.
                  5. Line a large baking tray with parchment.
                  6. Roll each third into a 14" long log. Lay the 3 logs parallel to each other on the baking tray. Braid dough tightly, pinching the ends together and tucking under slightly.
                  7. Cover loaf with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a draft free area for 45 minutes.
                  8. Preheat oven to 350℉. In a small bowl whisk together 1 large egg and cream. Brush generously on the loaf and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for approximately 32 minutes until golden and an internal temperature of 195℉ is reached.
                  9. Remove from oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool prior to slicing.
                  Recipe Notes

                  For extra plump raisins, soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes and drain well prior to adding to dough.

                  This bread is wonderful toasted with a little apricot jam.

                  It toasts quickly because of the sugar content.

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                  I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com