For about a month, I’ve been perfecting a bread machine recipe that has a crust that tastes dead on like spicy Cheez-Its. No kidding. It’s part of a medium-secret sandwich project I’ve been working on.
Naturally, the remarkable Cheez-It resemblance was begging to be developed into something besides a loaf of sandwich bread. Maybe something with a greater crust surface area, something with spicy elements that would enhance the Cheez-Ittiness.
Aha! How about pizza? Homemade pizza with the essence of Cheez-Its. Go ahead. Say it out loud. Sing it a little. Get it out of your system.
Obviously, the first thing you’re gonna need to do is eliminate every mention of tomato sauce. How about ranch dressing? You’re right, too bland. Yuck. How about ranch dressing mixed up with buffalo sauce? Yeeeees. And what would we most enjoy on a pizza like that? Chicken, obviously. And bacon, because… bacon. Oh, and you know what’s great with bacon? Green peppers. And mushrooms are great with everything…
So here it is: A bacon, chicken, mushroom and green pepper buffalo ranch pizza on a jalapeno cheddar onion crust, henceforth to be known as the Buffalo Cheez-It Pizza.
For the crust:
- 1 1/4 cups of water at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp powdered milk
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 1/4 cups white bread flour
- 2 Tbsp chopped onion
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp minced jalapeno
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp yeast
- Additional flour for dusting
For the pizza:
- 8 oz shredded Mexican four-cheese mix (or any Cheddar mix you like… or just Cheddar)
- 6 oz shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup ranch dressing
- 1/2 cup buffalo sauce
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 grilled chicken cutlet (I deliberately made an extra with dinner the night before so we could use leftover chicken for this), torn into bite-size pieces
- 4 strips crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Enlist the help of your bread machine in advance. Add all the ingredients to the pan in the order listed, then set the machine to Pizza Dough (or Dough Only if there’s no Pizza Dough setting). This usually takes at least an hour, so you can do this well in advance if you like. The finished dough can be dusted with flour and wrapped in a ziploc bag, then either refrigerated for a day or two or frozen for weeks. If you refrigerate it, make sure to check periodically that it hasn’t continued to rise and busted out of the bag. If you freeze it, give it at least four hours in the fridge to thaw when you’re ready to use it.
- Preheat the oven to 450 (with your pizza stone inside if you’re using one).
- Flour the counter and a rolling pin and roll your dough out to the thickness you prefer in a pizza, probably about 1/8″. (If you like, you can do multiple smaller pizzas. This amount of dough rolls out nicely into two 12″ pizzas.)
- Dust some flour over your pan or pizza stone and place your crust carefully onto it. Pinch the edge to make a thick outer ridge, and stab the crust all over with a fork to prevent it from billowing up into a great pizza balloon.
- Bake the crust for 8–10 minutes and carefully remove it from the oven.
- Mix the buffalo sauce and ranch dressing in a small bowl. Spread it all over the pizza crust. Use less sauce if you prefer your pizza dry, more if you like it very wet. Trust your instincts.
- Add toppings and cheese. Feel free to change the order of operations here, but I like it to go: chicken, Mexican cheese, mushroom, peppers, mozzarella, bacon. Oh, and don’t be stingy with the cheese. The measurements given are just an estimate. Everybody likes a different amount, you know? I like lots.
- In a small bowl, melt the butter. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and brush the mixture all over the outer crust of the pizza. Drizzle the rest over the pizza itself.
- Put it back into the oven and bake at 450 for 15–20 minutes, or until the crust is a dark golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to set for 5 minutes before slicing.