As for toppings, you can be as creative as you want. Try creamy goat cheese paired with a handful of peppery arugula. A half-cup of toasted walnuts and a drizzle of great walnut oil make a wonderfully rich yet light pizza. Or roast some Treviso radicchio (less bitter than the more common radicchio di Chioggia) right on the pan in the oven, while you brown crumbled Italian sausage on the stove. Then strew your pizza with both and slide it into the oven. Literally at the last minute, add pieces of sumptuous burrata cheese.
Traditionalists can opt for tomato sauce and pepperoni, while the more adventurous can try duck confit and white beans, or roasted garlic and sauteed kale. You can put virtually anything that appeals on top of a good pizza crust.
Care of the pan is pretty easy: As with all cast iron, you shouldn't use soap, only a quick scrub with water and a kitchen brush. Keep the pan well-oiled and away from rust-causing moisture. Mine now lives inside my oven -- where my pizza stone used to be.
And, by the way, you can drop it as often as you want. Just make sure you get yourself some steel-toed clogs first. Now, there's a marketing opportunity. Bobby Flay? Anyone?
Batali pizza pan, available in persimmon at Sur La Table and Macy's; available in red at Crate & Barrel, $60.
Basic pizza dough
Total time: 20 minutes plus overnight rising time and 1 hour resting time
Servings: Makes 2 pizzas, about 10 inches in diameter
1 cup warm water
1 packet ( 1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
Generous pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon best-quality
About 2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1. Put the water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl and set aside for 5 minutes, until it begins to foam. (If it doesn't, discard and start over with new yeast.)
2. Stir in the olive oil and 1 cup of flour and mix until incorporated. Then add the salt and the second cup of flour, stirring with a spoon or spatula.
3. Turn out the dough onto a floured board or, if your bowl is large and shallow enough, just knead it in the bowl. Knead the dough, incorporating the rest of the flour as needed, until it's smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
4. Put the dough into a clean, well-oiled bowl, turning to lightly coat the top of the dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight.
5. The next day -- about an hour and a half before you want your pizza -- take the dough out of the refrigerator, punch it down and divide it into two balls. Lightly coat the dough with olive oil, cover with plastic, and let it rest on the counter for an hour.
6. After an hour, using your fingers, spread each ball of dough into a 10-inch disk on top of a piece of parchment paper. The edges should be half an inch thick, and the centers should be about a quarter-inch thick. Assemble your pizzas.
Each serving: 107 calories; 3 grams protein; 20 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 1 gram fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 141 mg. sodium.
Sausage, radicchio and burrata pizza
Total time: 35 minutes
Note: Burrata is available at Bristol Farms and Whole Foods stores, Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica and Joan's on Third in Los Angeles.
1/3 pound mild Italian sausage
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 heads of Treviso radicchio
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 recipe pizza dough
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces fresh burrata, sliced
1. Place a cast-iron pizza pan on the middle rack of the oven and heat to 350 degrees.
2. Remove the sausage from its casing and saute with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the fennel seeds in a saute pan over medium heat, breaking apart the sausage as it cooks. Cook until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
3. Trim the radicchio and cut it into three-fourths inch slices. Toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil and one-fourth teaspoon kosher salt. Mound the radicchio on the pizza pan in the oven and roast, stirring and turning with a spatula, until it just begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Take the pan out, remove the radicchio and set it aside and return the pan to the oven. Turn the oven up to 450 degrees.
4. Brush the prepared pizza dough with the remaining olive oil. Spread the sausage then the radicchio evenly over the pizza. . Grind a little black pepper over the top.
5. Slide the parchment paper with the pizza onto an inverted cookie sheet or peel, then transfer both parchment and pizza to the hot pizza pan. Cook until golden and crispy, about 12 to 16 minutes, rotating it once halfway through (use the parchment to do so). One minute before the pizza is done, add the burrata slices to the pizza in the oven, so that it gets just melted.
6. Remove the pizza from the oven either by pulling out the parchment paper and sliding the pizza back onto the cookie sheet or by taking out the hot pizza pan and placing it on a trivet. Slice and serve hot.