Use A Cheap Loaf Of French Bread As An Effortless Pizza Base

Generally, a great pizza isn't hard to come by. Most of us have our favorite pizzerias we can rely on for takeout or delivery, and those who prefer to cook at home know how straightforward the process is once you've learned how to make excellent dough from scratch. However, you don't necessarily need a traditional crust to whip up a quick and delicious pie; a loaf of French bread from the grocery store's bakery department serves as the perfect base for a tasty pizza with a crisp crust, and all the toppings you love.

Considering that all you need to do is split the loaf in half and start adding your sauce and cheese, this pizza is oven-ready in no time. For this handheld feast, it's best to use the pillowy loaves of French bread that are typically super inexpensive, rather than a crusty baguette. Baguettes have their time and place, but for pizza, the surface area for toppings is too small, there are often large air holes in the bread where the sauce can sink in, and the crust can become too hard in the oven, making it difficult to bite through.

A budget-friendly loaf of French bread is stable, larger, and will bake up with a delightfully chewy crust, while the inside remains soft. These are perfect for a quick dinner, a late-night snack, or game days.

Pizza during the disco era

Many people associate French bread pizza with Stouffer's, a major brand in the frozen food industry. The company launched its frozen versions in 1974, but it didn't originate the concept. It is believed that a food truck owner named Bob Petrillose first created pizza on French bread. He established his business at Cornell University, catering to hungry college students. Dubbing his creation "PMP" or "Poor Man's Pizza," undergraduates eagerly sought the dish, particularly late at night.

A similar dish, called zapiekanka, emerged in Poland across the Atlantic from Cornell in the 1970s. Zapiekanka is a type of quick-serve street food made by splitting a baguette-like bun and topping the halves with mushrooms, onions, and cheese, then baking it until toasted and melty, and serving it with a drizzle of ketchup.

Stouffer's entered the French bread pizza scene when the company needed to find a way to continue using its garlic bread baguettes. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, a marketing employee named Milton Miles proposed the idea of covering the bread with sauce and cheese, creating what would become popular among latchkey kids and busy parents nationwide.

Endless topping possibilities

Building this particular type of pizza begins with a loaf of French bread halved lengthwise. You can start by placing toppings directly on the soft bread, toast the bread first in the oven, or make toasted garlic cheese bread and build your pie on that. Regardless of the method, the outer crust should remain sturdy without becoming too firm. Classic pizza toppings work well, but the neutral flavor of French bread allows for immense creative freedom.

Try a French onion version by covering the bread with caramelized onions, mozzarella, Gruyère cheese, and fresh thyme. For a classic combination, top your French bread with fresh ricotta cheese, garlicky broccoli rabe sauteed in olive oil and chili flakes, and sausage. If you want to utilize your leftover buffalo chicken dip, spread it on top of your halved loaf before baking. Alternatively, for a blend of hot and cool, bake the bread with fresh mozzarella cheese until it melts, then finish it with sliced ham, ripe peach slices, and arugula lightly dressed in olive oil and lemon juice.

French bread loaves are large enough to be cut into thirds or quarters, allowing your family or party guests to personalize their pizzas so everyone gets what they want. With no need for dough to rise or be rolled out, using French bread for your pizza base might just be the quickest and easiest way to enjoy the flavors of this Italian favorite.