You've heard of monkey bread – a.k.a. pull-apart bread, a.k.a. bubble loaf – right?
Cinnamon Monkey Bread is the classic version many of us Boomers cut our teeth on, a stalwart of home ec. classes back in the ’60s and ’70s.
But why limit yourself to a loaf of bread – when the next logical step is pizza? Pull-apart pizza, to be exact.
Think about it. You're having a party. The pizza comes out of the oven, and everyone gathers around for a piece. You cut the pizza – and it's so hot that the cheese slides off like a carpet runner on slippery hardwood, carrying with it its cache of pepperoni, mushrooms, and everything else you've loaded on top.
Alternate choice: Wait 10 minutes before cutting. But as the hot pizza cools, so does the excitement. And if you wait too long? Greasy, cold, sodden pizza.
You can see what's coming, right? You've got it: pull-apart pizza. Pizza that can be shared IMMEDIATELY upon coming out of the oven. No waiting, no sloppy slip-sliding topping, just pure pleasure from the word (grab &) go.
Speaking of grab & go, this pizza is eminently grabbable – though the only place you'll want to go is right back to the table for another piece!
Ready to start monkeying around with your favorite pizza recipe? Here's how.
When I'm making one large (half-sheet pan) pizza, I use the entire recipe of dough.
But this time I divide the dough in half, since I'm making two smaller pizzas: one using a traditional "chop bread" method and classic pizza toppings (pepperoni and cheese); the other using a "mix and toss" method, and featuring more substantial toppings: oven-roasted potatoes, thick-cut bacon, and chunks of cheddar cheese.
Let's make our chop-bread pizza first.
Don't get hung up looking for details here; this is more method than specific instructions.
Pat your pizza dough into an oval. Choose your favorite toppings, and pile them all on half the dough.
Fold the "blank" side of the dough over the filled side.
Yes, this will be messy – filling will fly! That's totally OK.
Simply push everything together into a flat oval or round pile.
Let the pizza rise for an hour – or longer, if you've started with chilled dough. You should see the dough pieces puff noticeably.
Bake the pizza in a preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes or so, or until it's nicely browned.
Remove from the oven. Share IMMEDIATELY.
Trust me, no one will burn his or her fingers or mouth on a big slab of broiling-hot cheese. And there's nothing like light, tender/chewy bites of hot bread all jumbled up with crisp bits of pepperoni and melting cheddar.
Or roasted potatoes, bacon, and cheddar – my next pizza.
I'm using a different method for this one. What happens if, instead of the rolling and filling and chopping and mounding, you simply divide the dough into pieces – as you do when making a typical monkey or pull-apart bread – and then toss it with the filling ingredients?
Meet the ingredients: pan-roasted red potatoes, Cabot cheddar (LOVE their new Farmers' Legacy collection!), and thick-cut bacon, cooked crisp.
OK, if you REALLY want some details, I've used a pound of potatoes, 4 ounces of cheese, and half a pound of bacon. Remember, these amounts are for half my crust recipe.
Dice the cheese, dice the bacon, and toss everything together with the dough pieces (bottom right).
Scoop everything into a lightly greased 9" round pan. Cover the pan, and let the dough rise until it's puffy.
Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle an additional 1/2 cup grated cheese over the top, and bake for 10 more minutes, or until the cheese melts.
Pull the pizza out of the oven, and turn it out of the pan.
Grip it and rip it.
Each piece is filled with crusty potatoes, pockets of melted cheese, and crunchy bacon. To say nothing of light, tender bites of flavorful crust.
Is the cheese holding everything together? Yes; cheese is the unifying element. And serendipitously, some of it melts during baking to form a crunchy bottom crust, lending even more structure.
And even more flavor – who doesn't love "caramelized" cheese?
Having friends over? Take your favorite crust (or our Now or Later Pizza crust) and turn your favorite pizza into a real party animal!