Our husbands have an excellent history of planning fantastic birthday celebrations for us. Surprisingly, we haven’t been as good about returning the favor; I guess we’re more into baby showers and New Year’s Eve soirees. It’s a good thing Anthony and Chris take care of each other. I dislike the term bromance, but I must admit these two have a bromance as beautiful as it is strong.
Chelsea invited us to a tiny birthday gathering for Anthony last month, and Chris’s first response after “yes, we will be there” was “and I will bring a pizza cake.” What is a pizza cake, you ask? Don’t try too hard here. It’s probably exactly what you’re picturing.
Chris discovered the concept of a pizza cake via SoGoodBlog.com. We make a lot of pizza in our house as it is, and we like to experiment with different styles. But this is not something we had tried before. I’d like to say, though, that I believe we improved on the recipe. So I’ll share our version here. Scroll all the way down for the recipe.
You’ll start with all the same ingredients as you would for a normal, plebeian pizza… but you may need some extra tools. A cake pan (around 5-7″ in diameter) with a removable bottom is pretty great to have. Without a removable base, you’ll want to line your edges in parchment for sure.
If you’ve kept the moisture high in your dough (which is a great thing to do for dough texture) you may find it doesn’t want to stay upright in the pan while you’re par-baking the sides of your empty cake. I had this issue the second time we crafted a pizza cake, and I just made it work. But I think it may be a good idea to pre-bake this rectangle for like one minute, so that when you form it to the inside of the pan it holds its shape better. Try that at your own risk ’cause I literally just made that up and have not checked to see if that works.
After fitting the side crusts into the pan, you’ll par-bake that crust then start your pizza cake assembly. Crust > cheese > sauce > other fun topping > repeat. It’s hard for me to type this because I love sauce so much, but you’ll have to go easy on the sauce or you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
When choosing toppings (fillings?) remember that drier is better. A lot of extra liquid (from toppings like spinach or other fresh veggies) will make the interior layers of crust soggy. We used sun-dried tomatoes, sausage, and pepperoni. I think mushrooms would also work fairly well. I’m not going to prescribe how to make the layers of your pizza cake creation. I’m not going to fence you in like that.
Tip: you’ll want your toppings to be taller than the sides of the pan and crust. It will compress while baking.
While it’s more work than a normal pizza, and doesn’t necessarily taste much better, the wow factor is what makes this one special. So have fun with it, share it with friends, and post many pictures of it to your social media accounts. Recipe and instructions below.
Makes one 6″ pizza cake. Day-of prep takes < 1 hour if crust and sauce are made in advance.
—–for the crust—–
We used Alton’s recipe, with dry malt and a little less yeast + an overnight rise to develop better flavor. This actually makes enough crust for 2 pizza cakes. So make two, or freeze half, or halve the recipe. Or make one pizza cake and one normal pizza. I trust you to make the decision that’s right for you.
—–for the sauce—–
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
- dried herbs (oregano, basil, you get the picture)
Using your hands, crush the tomatoes into large pieces, removing the tough stems. In a heavy-bottom sauce pan, sauté onion and garlic with dried herbs in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add can of tomatoes (juices and all) and simmer until thick. Use an immersion blender to smooth it out once it’s totally cooked down.
Preheat oven to 500°F (with pizza stone inside, if you have one). Roll out the crust as to 1/4″ thick and cut 4 circle-shaped pieces just slightly smaller than your pan. Bake crusts on a preheated pizza stone or lay on a cookie sheet with parchment liner. Bake about 6-8 minutes; until the dough is completely baked through but still flexible/bendy. Bendy is a very special culinary term that you may not have heard before.
Place one baked circle in the base of your cake pan. Roll/stretch the remaining crust into a long rectangle to line the vertical edges of the pan. Bake that empty crust for about 8 minutes.
In par-baked crust, assemble your pizza layers. Remember, go fairly light on the sauce (max 2 T each layer) and choose drier toppings to keep the interior crust layers from getting soggy.
Lower the oven temperature to 475°F and bake the full pizza cake for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before slicing the glorious pieces on to your amazed friends’ plates.