Comfort-food favorite French bread pizza is back

Bethany Jean Clement
The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — Mention French bread pizza, and people have feelings.

French bread pizza is a classic American come-home-from-school-and-eat-it-in-front-of-the-TV snack — Stouffer’s if you were lucky, but also easy enough for you to make yourself (sometimes, sigh, substituting English muffins). Hot gooeyness atop a pleasingly shaped, light-and-crispy bread-torpedo — many happy latchkey moments were made of this; just add a glass of cold milk and some reruns.

A huge part of the appeal of French bread pizza is that it’s so easy and fast, any impatient latchkey kid or stoned grown-up can make their own. And with just a little extra care, this recipe for French bread pizza will live up to — or even best — any TV-watching childhood memories.

As Good As You Remember French Bread Pizza

The method of buttering and toasting the bread to crisp it a bit before saucing/topping is pretty much ubiquitous on the internet, but rather than bothering to melt the butter and brush it on, you can just spread it gently if it’s at room temperature. The amounts here have been left open-ended — if you make extra to freeze (see note), your future binge-watching self will thank you very much.

French bread (lighter/airier is better)

Butter (room temperature)

Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper

Pizza sauce (extra credit if you make your own — see recipe with this story online)

Pizza toppings of your choice (pepperoni is the Stouffer’s classic)

Shredded whole-milk mozzarella (plus a little fresh mozzarella and/or cheddar if you like)

Grated Parmesan (Reggiano or other good quality)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the middle to upper-middle part.

Split your bread lengthwise with a good serrated knife, place on a baking sheet cut-side up, spread with butter, and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper.

Bake about 8 minutes, until the top of the buttered bread has a little crispness to it. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.

Assemble your FBPs with sauce, one layer of toppings thin enough to absorb cheese-heat and plenty of cheese. (You don’t want to ensoggen (technical term) your bread with sauce, but you do want a nice saucy amount.)

Bake for another 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melty and bubbling. Then, for more molten cheese/blackened bread-edges, throw on the broiler for a minute or three. (But monitor carefully to prevent wholesale burning!)

Park yourself in front of TV and enjoy.

Note: To freeze French bread pizzas for later: Stick unbaked FBPs in the freezer for a couple of hours until completely frozen. Put them in airtight containers, then back into the freezer they go. To bake from frozen, preheat oven to 400 degrees, put FBPs on a baking sheet, and bake for about 15 minutes until cheese is melty and bubbling.

Pretty Quick Pizza Sauce

Don’t be afraid of the sugar. Stouffer’s sure isn’t — it is their sauce’s third ingredient, just after water and tomato paste.

1 28-ounce can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon red wine or sherry vinegar

A few fresh bay leaves or 1 dry leaf

Stir all of it together in a medium saucepan and bring to a bubble over medium-high heat. Turn heat down to medium, rough-chop the tomatoes with your spoon, then reduce until sauce is somewhat thickened, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Fish out bay leaves, then blend sauce with a hand blender or in a regular blender until pizza-sauce smoothness is attained.

Add more sugar and/or vinegar to taste; it might need up to a teaspoon more sugar for a slight sweetness and up to a tablespoon of vinegar for brightening, depending on the flavor of your canned tomatoes. Let cool a bit before using; store extra in a jar in fridge and use within about a week (make more FBPs with it!).