One of my son’s favorite snacks is what he calls “floppy pizza.” Basically this is a tortilla with pizza sauce and cheese. He likes it so much he asked for it for his 12th birthday dinner. This inspired me to introduce him to another quickie pizza dish, French Bread Pizza. French Bread Pizza is super easy to make, but of course, I had to do some research to ensure the best results. This is the recipe I have developed for French Bread Pizza.
Growing up my introduction to French Bread Pizza was from the Stouffer’s frozen version. This was often a Friday or Saturday meal the babysitter could heat up while my parents went out on the town. In my research, I was surprised to learn there was actually an inventor of French Bread Pizza. It started on a food tuck in the 1960s on the campus of Cornell University in New York.
Serious Eats even noted the passing of inventor Bob Petrillose in 2008. It appears this food truck is still in operation today as part of the Shortstop Deli. The original French Bread Pizza was (and still is) called Poorman’s Pizza (PMP). Serious Eats indicates he licenses the idea to Stouffer’s, but I am not sure if I believe that.
That fun bit of history aside, I of course had to look at the Serious Eats recipe for French Bread Pizza. French Bread Pizza is really easy to make, but Serious Eats did have some good suggestions. Their main suggestion was to pre-bake the bread with a butter/oil/garlic sauce, topped with some cheese. This solves the problem of the sauce making the bread mushy. That was always a big turnoff for me so I incorporated that idea.
The other major suggestion from Serious Eats was to press the bread down with a baking sheet. I tried this, but it didn’t seem to make a big difference. It probably depends on the loaf you use, so I just left this suggestion in. The goal is to get it the bread even so it holds toppings.
In terms of toppings, to each his own. I use my now favorite Vermont pepperoni. I was also inspired by our local pizza place Killer Pizza from Mars to add a ground beef topping. Killer Pizza from Mars has a version of French Bread Pizza with ground beef that I really like. When doing this version, I added a mixture of half Mozzarella and half Cheddar.
In terms of sauce, we have developed a no cook pizza sauce we really like. We use this for grilled pizza, Detroit Pizza (see our recipe) and now French Bread Pizza. I admit French Bread Pizza is not as good as my other types of pizza but it is easy to make. Whereas, Detroit or grilled pizza requires significant planning ahead, French Bread Pizza can be made on the spur of the moment.
French Bread Pizza
- 1 lb French loaf cut in half lengthwise (not a baguette)
- 8 oz Mozzarella
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- One half batch of No Cook Pizza Sauce or your favorite pizza sauce
- Pizza toppings as desired sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, etc
Heat oven to 450 degrees. In small saucepan melt butter and add olive oil, garlic and red pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes being careful not to let garlic brown.
Using a baking sheet press down on bread to evenly flatten the loaf. Place bread on baking sheet and spread butter mixture over loaf with a pastry brush.
Spread ¼ of mozzarella over bread and bake for about 5 minutes until cheese starts to melt. Remove from oven.
Add tomato sauce, top with remaining cheese and other desired toppings. Cook on baking sheet 8 to 10 minutes until cheese starts to brown.
Adapted from Serious Eats