Pizzas Benedict and Deep Dish Pizza Cupfakes

YOU PEOPLE ROCK! Willow Bird Baking is one of only 72 blogs in Round 5 of Project Food Blog, and it’s all because of you! Virtual high-fives, y’all! I can’t say thank you enough.

Challenge #5 was to take a traditional dish, pizza, and remix it to create something inventive. I brainstormed for a week to find something creative, fun, delicious, and maybe even a little magical. I asked a billion (give or take a few) folks to weigh in with their pizza favorites. I laboriously googled (okay, that part was easy) and read recipe after recipe. Finally, I reached a conclusion. I appreciate your votes and I hate to let them go to waste, but . . .

FORGET PIZZA. I made cupcakes instead.

I’m tired, I’m whiny, I’m challenged-out, and cupcakes are tasty.

Just kidding, just kidding! ME, challenged-out? NEVER. The whiny part was true, but I’m always up for a challenge.

The title of this post probably gave me away — of course I made pizza . . . with a big twist. I chose to create two pizza remixes for this challenge, actually, representing two times of day when you aren’t “supposed” to eat pizza: dessert and breakfast.

I’ve been eating pizzas at all the wrong times since my childhood. Cold leftover pizza for breakfast was a delicacy. Midnight snack pizza was one of my favorites. What can I say? I’m a rebel. And I have a feeling more than a few of you are rebellious in the exact same way.

My “dessert” pizzas are a little sneaky, because they aren’t cupcakes at all — they’re cupfakes! They’re actually mini Chicago-style deep dish pizzas stuffed with mozzarella, goat cheese, pepperoni, and some of the best pizza sauce I’ve ever tasted. They’re then “frosted” with ricotta cheese, topped with colored salt sprinkles, and crowned with grape tomatoes in the place of cherries. Apart from being utterly delicious, they turned out to be the cutest little pizzas on the block!

I broke out the razorblades, cardboard, ribbon, cardstock, and glue gun to create an asymmetrical cupcake tower to showcase these cuties. Cue amusing exchanges on Twitter and Facebook:

My favorite cupfake incident was when I took a few of these to my neighbor (hi, neighbor!) and asked if he’d like some leftover homemade pizza. He looked at what seemed to be a plate of cupcakes in my hand with a slight pause. I wasn’t sure if he was going to ask why I didn’t know the difference between a pizza and a cupcake or just assume I was crazy, so I quickly explained. Mustn’t have the apartment complex thinking I’m nuts — any more than they already do, that is!

I was originally only going to create the cupfakes, but this morning I woke up and decided that for Round 5 of this competition and with only 72 blogs left, I had to go all out. I made a whole new batch of pizza dough to create my breakfast pizzas and some even tinier deep dish pizzas for later. So three batches of dough, a whole package of mozzarella, and scads of pepperoni later, I’m ready to fall over.

It was worth it.

I’ve affectionately named my breakfast pizza Pizzas Benedict. These had a heartier crust made with part whole-wheat flour to mimic an English muffin (okay, it was because I thought I’d run out of all-purpose flour. I later found a bag of it in the living room because, you know, that’s where normal people keep their flour).

The Pizzas Benedict were stuffed with a mixture of scrambled eggs, spinach, bacon, goat cheese, and cheddar cheese, and topped with fresh Hollandaise sauce. The egg mixture didn’t stay stuffed into the crust like it was supposed to, so in some of the pizzas, it was more of a topping and the crust was like a muffin base — but they were still delicious! Next time I might add even more of the stuffin’.

This turned out to be an exhausting, dangerous challenge. I shattered a glass all over the kitchen floor and sliced my foot as I was mixing my first batch of dough — a batch that ultimately ended up in the trash. I was up until the wee hours of the morning with my razorblades and hot glue. And at one point, I looked up from creating my Chicago-style deep dish pizzas and realized that my New Yorker roommate was sitting on the couch watching a Yankees game.

Barbara is not just any New Yorker, y’all. She makes a yearly pilgrimage to New York for Italian food and baseball. She has Yankees paraphernalia all over her room. She has like 8 superstitious rituals she completes for each baseball game — including lighting tealight candles, snuggling under her Yankees blanket, and wearing her lucky necklace.

She’s going to kill me, but I told her there was no way I wasn’t going to tell you about the time she ran into my room in a panic, pleading, “Can you please help me get this necklace on?!” I thought she just really loved jewelry until I realized it was her Yankees necklace and the game was starting. Yeah. She’s that kind of New Yorker. And here I was busily creating some Chicago pizza in our kitchen. I started planning escape routes.

Turns out I needn’t have worried — Barb appreciates good food as much as she appreciates New York. She loved the pizza sauce and forgave the crust. She declared that you should vote for me — and she has such good judgment. I’m just sayin’.

In addition to being exhausting, dangerous, and sometimes painful, this challenge was amazing! It allowed me to tackle new techniques (making homemade pizza dough), which is something I’m passionate about. It also provided an arena to do the things I already know I love: playing with food, making it adorable, and making it fun.

I hope you’ll make some pizza cupfakes and surprise someone you love. Or why not have a pizza day, complete with a pizza breakfast, lunch, dinner, and “dessert”? Have fun!

Deep Dish Pizza Cupfakes



Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, compiled and adapted from the following sources:

Recipe Pizza (crust) with help from Annie’s Eats
Strawberry Hedgehog (pizza sauce)

Yield: about 13 cupcake-sized cupfakes

Crust Ingredients:
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 3/4 cups allβˆ’purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Pizza Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

“Toppings”:
pepperoni
mozzarella
goat cheese
ricotta cheese
grape tomatoes
kosher salt mixed with a few drops of food coloring to create “sprinkles”

Directions:
To make dough, sprinkle yeast and sugar into the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a hand mixer for this, or just mix by hand); allow stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, cornmeal, oil and salt to the yeast mixture and knead on a high speed for 7-10 minutes (you could also do this part by hand on a floured surface). You may need to add more flour here (I added about a cup and still had a wet dough, but I left it at that).

Turn dough into a large bowl coated with olive oil. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, about 1-1.5 hours. To create a “warm spot,” I turn my oven on to 100 degrees F for a few minutes and then turn it off and open the door. When it has cooled to just barely above room temperature, I place the dough in and close the door, eliminating the possibility of drafts.

Prepare a muffin pan. Preheat the oven to 475 (with a pizza stone in it, if you have one – I just used a baking sheet). Coat each well with olive oil and a sprinkle of cornmeal. Punch risen dough down. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and let rest for 10 minutes. Using floured hands, pinch off about 2-inch balls of dough and place them in each prepared muffin well (you can freeze any leftover dough in a ball). In each well, poke a few pearls or slices of mozzarella cheese, some goat cheese, one or two pepperoni, and, finally, a big spoonful of sauce. In fact, I’d layer the sauce between each topping and then really stuff as much as you can on top — it’s the best part! Push each topping down so that the crust rises around the side. I use a spoon to gently press the sauce down at the end, so the entire thing resembles a deep dish pizza. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Let cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes before cooling on a cooling rack. If you’re making cupcakes, let them cool completely (otherwise, serve them warm).

To “frost,” pipe ricotta cheese onto each cupfake. Top with a grape tomato and salt sprinkles. You can heat each cupfake about 30 seconds before serving it. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Pizzas Benedict



Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, compiled and adapted from the following sources:

Recipe Pizza (crust)
Tyler Florence (Hollandaise sauce)

Crust Ingredients:
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 1/2 cups allβˆ’purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

“Toppings”:
about 8 scrambled eggs
spinach, torn into small pieces
cooked bacon, torn into small pieces
cheddar cheese
goat cheese
garlic
butter for scrambling eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Hollandaise Sauce:
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
Pinch cayenne
Pinch salt

Directions:
To make dough, sprinkle yeast and sugar into the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a hand mixer for this, or just mix by hand); allow stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, cornmeal, oil and salt to the yeast mixture and knead on a high speed for 7-10 minutes (you could also do this part by hand on a floured surface). You may need to add more flour here (I added about a cup and still had a wet dough, but I left it at that).

Turn dough into a large bowl coated with olive oil. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, about 1-1.5 hours. To create a “warm spot,” I turn my oven on to 100 degrees F for a few minutes and then turn it off and open the door. When it has cooled to just barely above room temperature, I place the dough in and close the door, eliminating the possibility of drafts.

As dough rises, beat eggs, garlic, salt and pepper, and spinach together. Place a teaspoon or so of butter in a skillet over medium high heat and scramble egg mixture. Pour into a bowl and add cheddar cheese, goat cheese, and bacon.

Prepare a muffin pan. Preheat the oven to 475 (with a pizza stone in it, if you have one – I just used a baking sheet). Coat each well with olive oil and a sprinkle of cornmeal. Punch risen dough down. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and let rest for 10 minutes. Using floured hands, pinch off about 2-inch balls of dough and place them in each prepared muffin well (you can freeze any leftover dough in a ball). Place a heaping spoonful of egg mixture in the center of each well, pressing it down into the crust dough. Bake 15-17 minutes until crust is golden. Let cool in pan for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm with Hollandaise sauce.

Make the Hollandaise sauce while your pizzas bake: Whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until it is thickened and doubled in volume. Place this bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water that does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk rapidly and constantly, being careful not to let the eggs get so hot that they scramble. Drizzle melted butter in while continuing to whisk. Whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat and whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm place until ready to use. If the sauce gets too thick, you can whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

Just for fun, here’s the list of ideas I considered for this challenge. Maybe you can grab one of these ideas and run with it!

  • Iconic Luxury Dish Pizza: Beef Wellington and Tiramisu Pizzas
  • Pizza Pie (a pie made with pizza ingredients – a take on tomato pie)
  • miniature pizzas with super accurate-looking toppings (e.g. tiny, tiny pepperoni!)
  • pizza pockets
  • dessert pizzas
  • a “pizza parfait” with layers of crust, sauce, cheese, toppings, basil in a parfait glass
  • a “waffled pizza” cooked on a waffle iron (this idea comes straight from the waffleizer blog, so not very original)
  • pizza cups — crust cups filled with sauce, cheese, and toppings and served as little appetizers
  • pizza muffins (muffins baked with cheddar cheese, pepperoni, etc. in them, and a mozzarella cheese ball in the center — sauce on top)
  • pizza nachos
  • pizza panini
  • fried pizza balls (not sure how I’d do this… somehow put pepperoni and cheese inside batter and fry the outside, and dip in sauce? Kind of just like mozzarella sticks, I guess)

What creative version of pizza can you think up?

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170 Comments

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170 responses to “Pizzas Benedict and Deep Dish Pizza Cupfakes

  1. Super creative Julie! I think you just bought a ticket to the next round!!!

  2. Tastes Better With Friends

    No puppies or grandmas, but some pretty awesome pizza-inspired treats! You had me at the Deep dish faux-cake:) The benny was a bonus!
    Great post! good luck!!

  3. Holy majoly, these are MENTAL. I love it! Those cupfakes are super awesomely crazy. Gosh, you should live next door to me πŸ˜‰

    Great job on the entry and your incredibly creative ideas! I’m impressed! Good luck, m’dear!

    Jax x

  4. That is incredible! I’m always amazed at your creations!

  5. YOU ARE A GENIUS.
    I AM SPEECHLESS

  6. At 6.12 on a Sunday morning, there are no words except wow! I toyed with this ideas too (I have a huge list of possible ideas for this challenge) but decided it might be risky. Looks like your risk paid off! Good luck.

  7. what a creative entry!!! love this

  8. gingerbreadcake

    Are you incredibly amazing or what?! This has to be my absolute FAVORITE entry that I’ve read so far. I love how you made them into cupcakes (cupfakes!) and then you really outdid yourself and made pizzas benedict. I’m drooling, they look so delicious. You definitely have my vote! You’re just incredible. πŸ™‚

  9. Wow — those cupfakes are incredible!

  10. Pizza for breakfast and cupFAKES? You are messing with my world order. Great job. GREG

  11. These are so clever! I’m inspired by your creativity. Thinking of how to revamp one of my favorite recipes…

  12. What a cute idea to turn pizza into a cupcake!! Also, the Pizzas Benedict … those look fantastic and sound even better!

  13. I seriously need some of those pizza benedicts. The cupfakes are adorable!!! Great job!

  14. very inventive! great job, as always! it’s only 9:30 and i’m craving cupcakes! (and pizza benedict ;))
    Leila@MyBarbarianTable

  15. I am SO glad you made cupcake pizzas because, honestly, that was going to be my plan of action! (That or pizza in the form of a layer cake. I was thoroughly undecided.) So obviously I think it is an INGENIOUS idea. Great job Julie. You’ve absolutely got my vote!

    • LOL — you are too funny, Joanne! I’m so sad you aren’t in this round right along with me — pumpkin pizza dough was BRILLIANT.

      I was wondering if anyone else would do pizza cupcakes! We’ll see tomorrow if anyone else shared our ingenious idea πŸ˜‰

      Thank you!!

  16. Corey Rachael

    I think I could totally veganize the Pizza Benedicts – they look totally amazing!! If I do succeed in veganizing them, I’ll let you know πŸ™‚

  17. Sarah

    I am blow away by the breakfast pizzas! I just learned how to make hollandaise and randomly made some pizza dough last night! I think breakfast pizza is on the menu for dinner tonight. Thanks for the inspiration, love your blog.

  18. It’s afternoon now, but I’d still love one of those Pizza Benedicts! They look so yummy. And the cupfakes? Gorgeous!

  19. I love the cupfakes idea! When my son is older I’m going to use this idea for April Fools! (and congrats on making it to challenge 5!)

  20. These are awesome! You did a great job!

  21. sarah & alain

    Very cool kiddo, we are hungry! We love innovative pizzas, even though Alain is making the most traditional pizza ever right now (he did make the crust himself though)! Way to conquer the 5th round!

  22. Beautiful and adorable!! I love them!!!

  23. So clever! I had to look twice! I love it. And pretty too.

  24. Natalie

    Such creative ideas! The cupfakes look especially amazing. (I think it’s all the cheese. Mmmm, cheese.) And congrats on surviving such a dangerous baking experience πŸ™‚

  25. I love desserts that look like dinners and dinners that look like desserts! This entry is so amazing!

  26. These are both creative ideas, but I particularly like the tricky cupfakes! Way to go!

  27. WOW! I really thought you made cupcakes. Those look great! Your work definitely paid off on this one. I think you’re on to round 6 this week.

  28. Fun and creative…and I bet tasty too! Good luck getting into #6.

  29. Great creativity here! I love the breakfast version. Best wishes – you got my vote!

  30. Seriously? You made pizza cupfakes. You have got to be the most genius, creative person on the planet. OMG. What a smart idea!
    Congrats to you! Here’s to you going all the way!

  31. I totally thought they were cupcakes – great fake out! Love the idea of the breakfast pizzas too. Good luck!

  32. Cupfakes- you had me! I love the pizza benedict. Great idea!

  33. This is a FABULOUS idea! I was so confused at first, but when I read on, I was amazed! Good work:)

  34. Yum! I can’t decide which one looks more delicious. The cupcakes are so clever, but who can say no to hollandaise? As always, great job, Julie!

  35. I found your blog from the spreadsheet that Janetha made (for Foodbuzz), and I absolutely loved reading through a bunch of your posts. This one was so creative, and I loved all the detail you put into it. The pictures are beautiful! I can’t wait to meet you at Foodbuzz. I love the ‘cupfake’ tower. Really really genius!

  36. What an amazing idea !! these would be a hit at kids parties πŸ™‚
    You may have started a new trend. Good Luck

  37. Love, love, love the cupfakes! This is SO creative and you’ve got my vote in #PFB2010!

  38. Julie,

    What an amazing idea. you just blew my mind with the cupfakes. I am so glad to see you advanced! Heres hoping we have another round with you!!

  39. beyond fantastic! I love these. So perfectly done. As a cookie and edible crafts gal, I have to go with the faux-cupcake pizzas. Got my vote!

  40. Flour in the living room… LOL!
    I have extra spices in the basement.
    You’ve got my vote!

  41. Christy Ruble

    Julie, I am going to make these for the kids April Fools Day dinner next year! Thanks for the idea!

    Christy

  42. You are such an inspiration. These are the most creative pizzas I’ve seen so far! I honestly didn’t realize that cupcake was savory until I saw the inside of it and read your description. You’re amazing!

  43. Sue

    Your cupfakes are very cute and clever! Tasty too, I’m sure:)

  44. Love-love-love your cupfakes! They look so cute, and yet so delicious at the same time…I almost wish you hadn’t told your neighbor, just so you could see his face when he took a bite of a cupfake!

    “Yes” vote from me! Good luck!

  45. Love the cupfakes! That seems like such a cute idea and would perfectly for tailgating food! Those pizza benedicts look to die for. You’ve got my vote!

  46. kristen j

    sorry for the caps BUT THIS ALL LOOKS AMAZING! OMG!

  47. One of the most creative things I’ve seen — A true Cupfake. There is no better word. It’s hard to believe it’s a Pizza. πŸ˜‰ I finally got it, when I saw the Ricotta and Goat Cheese ingredients. Another vote here for sure!

    Shelly πŸ™‚

  48. So as much as I love the cupfakes, it’s the pizza benedicts that have me drooling on my keyboard. My husband LOVES pizzas, so both of these will get made. : ) We’ve recently made pizza puffs ( http://www.mrsdragon.net/2010/10/pizza-puffs.html )and it’s quickly becomes one of his faves, I know he will adore these. : )

  49. Sheesh. You’re a shoo-in. I want the eggs benedict cupcake. I have a strange aversion to the other, although it’s brilliant. It’s just hard to adjust my vision when I read what that the frosting was ricotta.
    So awesome!

  50. OMG Julie you are SO clever! You’ve just got to win after these right? I mean how utterly brilliant! πŸ˜€

  51. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the pizza cupfakes! Pretty brilliant idea if you ask me! Haha!

  52. voting for you! I’m once again so impressed and dying to try one of those pizza cupfakes πŸ™‚

  53. OMG those pizza cupfakes are AMAZING! Voted.

    One thing I love about Project Food Blog is coming across blogs, such as yours, that I hadn’t been reading. Adding you to my Google Reader now πŸ™‚

  54. This is awesome! I totally thought those were sweet cupcakes! I bet they tasted amazing.. voted πŸ™‚

  55. foododelmundo

    So original and so beautiful! You’ve got my vote. Thanks for attending our Virtual Pizza Party at Foodo! -Katy

  56. Adorable! Really nicely done. Perfect new spin on pizza. Voted! =)

  57. Very fun and creative. Certainly was questioning the cupcake thing to start, (i.e. thought you really did just do regular cupcakes, but then I kept reading…:-D) but you did a great job and I’m sure they tasted great.

    You have my vote and thank you for visiting my PFB post! Kind of funny, I had just voted for you and was checking my blog at the same time and saw your post. Weird, we were both on each others site at the same time. Small world! πŸ™‚

    • So funny!

      You know, I was actually worried someone would just read the top of the post and decide not to vote for me thinking I hadn’t actually completed the challenge! HA! Hopefully the title reels ’em in πŸ˜‰

      Thanks, Therese!

  58. Amazing design and creativity! These “cupfakes” look amazing. πŸ˜€

  59. Those really look like cupcakes – you fooled me! The ricotta frosting is so realistic! The breakfast pizzas look super tasty too. You have a vote from me!

  60. So creative Julie! Love them! If I drive to Charlotte will you make me some ; )

  61. These “cupfakes” crack me up! I look forward to trying them… I think they will be great for Halloween fake-outs – but if it doesn’t happen in this next week, it will be a sure-bet for April Fools!

  62. You have to make the next round. These are pure genius. You fooled me! Love it!

  63. Those cup”fakes” are so cute! Love the idea!

  64. Incredeible is what I can only think of..u deserve to be on the next round..sure u get my vote

  65. Brilliant! Those look amazing, and I know kids would love the cupfakes!!!

  66. um, these all look so delicious! just earlier today (this morning, so really, not the best part of the day to be fantasizing about such food…so I got your back on that rebelious bit) i was thinking about how much i wanted cupcakes and pizza and then BAM! read this! high five for fate!

  67. You’re so talented Julie! Reading your posts puts a smile on my face…and you did a wonderful job with this challenge πŸ˜‰

  68. I laughed, I cried, I snarked, and I’m hungry! Super creative pizza remixes and I would die if you offered me pizza and handed me that gorgeous cupfake. Also, eggs benedict are my fav breakfast, until now! Gimme one of those breakfast benedicts pizzas to put in my face! Sorry, got a little out of hand but I love what you did and you got my vote. Good luck in the next round!

  69. Those pizza cupfakes look amazing. That’s such an innovative and awesome idea! Looks so delicious!

  70. Your cupfakes are pretty freakin’ amazing. My head actually went “sploink!!” when I saw that the cherries were actually cherry tomatoes!

  71. Wow — the cupcakes are so cool! Voted!!

  72. You are hilarious! Love your wit & enthusiasm about the pizza remix challenge! Your pizza cupfakes are the best idea-I could only imagine your neighbors expression. Best of luck in the rest of the challenge πŸ™‚

  73. And now I am hungry for eggs benedict and pizza!

    These are definitely the cutest cupfakes on the blog. You’re so creative- I love it!

  74. Your cupcakes are so beautiful and the pizza benedict – wow! I can’t get over what a smart, creative idea that is. You’re very talented, and I’m so glad I found your blog. And, also, so sorry about your foot, that sounded like a horrible accident! Feel better soon!

  75. Amanda

    These are genius! I love pizza and get bored with the typical sauce, cheese and pepperoni. I’m always on the lookout for new, creative ways to enjoy one of my favorite things! Thanks for the inspiration!

  76. I have these bookmarked and cannot way for a day that I can play with these (how come all these weekends keep filling up). These are just amazing & I love things that “are what they aren’t” – hopefully mine come at least close to looking as great as yours!

  77. Looks great! I love pizza and basically try every new pizza recipe i come across. Will sure try this one too πŸ™‚

  78. Pingback: Simple and Sweet: Valentine’s Day Willow Bird Baking Style | Willow Bird Baking

  79. Pingback: Cute Food Saturday!

  80. Julie, what I would give to slide my feet under your table…your imagination boggles me and your photography is breathtaking. So Happy my friend from Ruth’s Salads sent me the newspaper article.

  81. Rhonda

    Sorry this is not about the cupfakes but where did you get those napkins? I love them! I am always looking for citrus stuff and have a hard time finding it.

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