Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza: It’s not the classiest of foods, I know. Pizza purists look away now! But there are times when you don’t actually want a beautiful bit of stone baked crust, charred and crisp and laden with air pockets. This recipe is for those times when you actually just want a mountain of cheese on a lot of soft crusted pizza.
And really, it’s not much of a recipe… Think of it as a Saturday night pizza inspiration post.
To start with, we’ll talk about the dough. I’m using an amended Jamie Oliver recipe. It’s his Basic Pizza Dough with a couple of added extras.
Firstly, I’m not making 8 pizzas. I’m cooking for two, so we quarter everything in the original recipe. Secondly, I want a dough that stays soft – the key to that is fat and water. If I’m after a squishy cheese core to my crust, I’m not interested in having a crispy flakey outer. It’s also advisable to have some extra malleability in the dough to form it around the cheese.
So what are the changes? Extra water and added oil. I personally find Jamie’s pizza dough recipe quite dry – so I increase the hydration just a little, which makes the dough a bit more workable. By adding oil, I’m again helping the elasticity of the dough and softening the bread. Fats are tenderisers, a trait also true of dairy. So if you come across a dough that uses milk and butter, it’s being enriched and the texture softened.
Shape the dough however you like, using only a little flour to prevent sticking. I tend to pass the dough over the backs of my knuckles, using both hands and stretching it slightly. Gravity does the rest of the work. Using the backs of your hands, you’ll also be less likely to put a hole in the base.
It’s fair to point out I only have access to an electric oven – and as we all know, you’ll never get the same flavourfully crisp bases out of it. The best solution I’ve come up with is to put the biggest metal sheet I own in the oven and let it heat up for a good fifteen minutes. Assemble the pizzas on semolina (or flour) dusted tinfoil sheets. They’ll move in and out of the oven with ease.
I recently had what I call a “slummy pizza urge” – I wanted everything cheese with lots of bread. We went to Pizza Hut and I was fascinated by the stuffed crust! Pulling the bread away from the ‘cheese’ core, I couldn’t tell you what mix of cheeses it might have once been. It had a pearlescent sheen to it! The lustre would not have been out of place on your Christmas tree.
This recipe does give you way more than a reasonable portion of cheese. As I’m using the pre-packaged pre-grated mozzarella, you’ll find it ends up coating the inner crust but doesn’t have that ‘core’ appearance. I’ve never tried using proper fresh mozzarella (my budget is not endless!) and I find the pizza-suitable pre-prepared stuff works just fine here.
It’s topped with a basic homemade passata sauce, where the passata has been heated in a saucepan with some basil, oregano and garlic and allowed to reduce. Then there’s even more mozzarella and some extra mature cheddar. If my fridge is ever empty of cheddar, do assume I’m sick and call for the doctor.
This is a soft, bready pizza utterly loaded up with a disturbingly unhealthy amount of cheese. And it’s great dipped in garlic sauce! Y‘know, just keeping it classy!
A soft, cheese laden stuffed crust pizza - perfect for a Saturday night.
- 250 g Strong White Bread Flour
- 1/2 sachet Easy / Fast Action Dried Yeast (approx. 4g)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1.5 tbsp Olive Oil
- 175 ml Warm Water
- Additional Olive Oil
- 160 g Mozzarella, Grated
- Tomato Sauce
- Mozzarella and/or Cheddar
- Additional Vegetables, Meats or Cheeses
In a large bowl, tip in the flour, fast action dried yeast, salt and sugar. Give everything a good mix then make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm water, followed by the 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil.
Bring everything together and knead for around 10 minutes. This can be done by hand or with a dough mixer. It's ready when the dough is smooth, soft and has some elasticity to it.
Line the inside of a large bowl with a thin film of oil. Place the dough inside and clingfilm the top to cover. Leave it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This may take up to 2 hours.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to it's highest setting. Place a metal sheet in the oven to heat up, large enough to accommodate the pizza. Give it at least 15 minutes to come to temperature before you intend to cook the pizzas.
Once the dough has risen, tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two portions and shape into balls. Gently shape the dough into a large, thin, circular shape. Try using a rolling pin, pressing the dough out with your fingertips or resting the dough against the backs of your hands, gently stretching it along your knuckles as you pass the dough from one hand to the other, working it around in a circle.
Cut a large piece of tinfoil, big enough to place your dough on. Lightly scrunch the sides of the foil to create a lip or edge that can be picked up. Dust the foil tray with fine semolina or more flour.
Place your circle of pizza dough onto the prepared tinfoil tray. Around the edge, form a thick ring of grated mozzarella. Use around 80g of cheese for each pizza.
Now you need to shape the crust. With your middle and third fingers on both hands, press the grated mozzarella towards you. At the same time, use your index fingers and thumbs to pinch the edge of the dough, lifting it over the cheese as you press the cheese into it. Very firmly press the edge of the dough into the base, ensuring a good seal so the cheese can't escape!
Work around the crust in one direction, pressing the cheese into the sides of the dough as you fold the edge over to connect it to the base.
Once the crust has been formed, finish with your preferred toppings. Transfer the pizza on its tinfoil base to the hot tray in the oven, cooking on high until the base is golden and cooked through.
Serve immediately. For extra softness and a garlicky hit, brush the stuffed crust with some melted garlic butter before serving.