My family loves pizza. If it tells you anything, my first date with my husband (blind date no less) was to Pizza Hut. So at least the love of pizza comes honestly (from my husband 😂) they regularly ask for homemade pizza multiple times a week… and to be honest- I get a little tired of it! I’ve tried to change up the crust, the recipes, the toppings… but it’s still pizza.
So I decided to try something different. Pizza Pop-up Casserole. (Or pizza bubble casserole like some call it) Now, I’m a sucker for a good casserole. Mostly because they’re super easy. This one has a little more elbow grease in it, but I really wanted the “fluffy” crust like taste, so I put the work in…. and with everyone still being on Christmas break I had some extra time to try it out!
The hardest part was being patient and letting the dough rise. I prepared it by warming the water slightly, and sprinkling the yeast on top to foam. (I usually don’t use yeast with my pizza crust, because I throw it together last minute and don’t like to let it wait. But again, today- elbow grease, time etc…) The yeast sat for 5 minutes or so, and it was ready!
I then added the sugar, salt, oil, and whisked it together. Finished by adding the gluten free all purpose flour blend and proceeded to stir it all together until it formed a ball.
If the dough seems a little too dry or flaky, you can add water by the teaspoon and mix it together until it’s the right consistency. You don’t want it to be too sticky though!
This is where the patience sat in. I greased the inside of a bowl with some oil and placed the dough inside. I then covered it with plastic wrap and sat the timer for an hour. You’re going to want to put this somewhere warm… in times past I’ve placed the oven on the lowest setting before starting, let it heat up and then turned it off when I put the dough inside…. or even just turned the oven light on. But this time I remembered a suggestion to try a heating pad on the lowest setting! So that’s what I did!! I grabbed my large heating pad, turned it on “warm” and placed the bowl there for an hour.(I really liked the heating pad suggestion. It worked really well!)
When it had doubled in size, I kneaded it down, covered it and let it sit for another hour, to an hour and a half.
I sprayed the 9×13 glass dish (actually this even made a little more so I prepared some for left overs too!!) with no-stick cooking spray and put enough pasta sauce to cover the bottom.
Once the dough had risen twice and was finished, I took the ball of dough and gently formed it into a ball again. Then tore off smaller balls from the larger. I rolled them lightly in the palm of my hand. Not too tight of a ball as we don’t want a real dense dough bite! I placed them in the dish with the pasta sauce. I then covered them again with plastic wrap and sat them back on top of the heating pad, and this time turned the temperature to “low”.
When they double in size (give or take a little here or there 😉 ) go ahead and turn that oven on 350*. From here I start mixing up my toppings. Now, you can use just about anything that your heart desires here. We like pork sausage and pepperoni. I also love pineapple, and wouldn’t mind making it partially Hawaiian… but that’s a no-go for Ryan, so we’ll stick to just the meat. You could absolutely add olives, peppers, onions, jalapeños etc!
If you’re adding meat, be sure its fully cooked before you top your little dough balls with it… it won’t be in the oven long enough to actually cook the meat… you also should sauté any veggies etc you want to add.
Sprinkle those toppings all over your little dough balls evenly. Making sure not to leave any space vacant! We wouldn’t want a bare bite!
Then mix your sauce with that delicious shredded Parmesan-Romano cheese.. I don’t like to skimp on the cheese- so I used the whole jar (all 6 oz) of cheese!
You’ll want to make sure that you cover all of your dough balls with your cheesy sauce. Once that’s done, all that’s left it’s popping it in the oven for 15 mins. until the sauce is bubbly. Pull it out and top it with the mozzarella cheese and put it back in for another 10 minutes, to melt the cheese and finish cooking the dough balls!
*You could make this with a g/f pizza crust mix if you wanted
*You could also try it with a yeast free dough, but I don’t know how light and fluffy the dough would turn out. That would be something you would need to experiment with on your own.
*You could make this with regular wheat flour instead of Gluten free, however I have never done that 🙂
Now for the recipe!!!
Pizza Pop-Up Casserole
1 1/2 cup warm water (plus 2 tsp if needed)
2 packets active instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups gluten free all purpose flour
1 1/2 jar pasta sauce (32 oz)
6 oz Parmesan- Romano cheese
2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Your choice of toppings
Sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm water and let sit for 5 mins until it’s foamy. Whisk the sugar, oil and salt together. Then add the flour. Form into a ball, if too crumbly add more water a teaspoon at a time.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Put in a warm spot or on a heating pad on warm for 1 hour. After 1 hour and the dough has doubled in size knead it down and cover again for 1 -1.5 hours.
Grease a 9×13 pan and place enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Pull off little balls and gently roll them (but not too tight) and place them in the sauce.
Put the small dough balls back on the heating pad and turn on low for 30 mins or until they double in size again.
Cook all your toppings, sauté your vegetables, mix the Parmesan in with the remaining sauce. Place all the toppings on the dough balls and top with the cheese sauce. Bake at 350* for 15 mins, pull out and top with the 2 cups of mozzarella. Finish baking for 10 minutes to melt the shredded cheese and finish the dough!
*adapted from bellyfull.net and glutenfreeonashoestring.com