This year, instead of blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, I ended up blowing out the flaming orifice of a pizza volcano. I based the experiment on the results of a Google search for “pizza volcano,” which yielded some interesting video documentation but no recipes or instructions for making one. So in the interest of unorthodox birthdays to come, I’ve compiled some documentation of my pizza volcano ventures.

My version of a pizza volcano consists of a round calzone-like object made from two circular pieces of dough. The finished dish can be presented with flames erupting from the center, so a small indentation is pressed into the apex of the dough to accommodate a tiny lake of fire.

Editor’s note: the heat from the freshly baked pizza will cause the alcohol to begin to vaporize, making it easier to light. High-proof spirits will light even more easily. We recommend lighting it while it’s still hot, lest you wind up with a soggy, vodka-drenched pizza.

Project Steps

Preparing Your Ingredients

A pizza volcano has the same ingredients as any other pizza, with one flammable addition. Just use the sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice. I used a tomato-based sauce so it would look more like lava erupting from the top, but other sauces could be fun too.

You will need fresh pizza dough; I got mine at my local pizza place.

The only additional ingredient that you will need is some alcoholic spirits. I used vodka because it was easy to pick up a little bottle of it at a nearby store, but sambuca also seems appropriate.

Making Your Pizza

Grab a ball of dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to shape it into a circle about the size of a dinner plate.

Instead of evenly spreading your sauce, cheese, and toppings, across the entire surface of the dough, pile them up in the middle. Try to place the highest point of your mountain in the very center of the dough. Be careful not to overfill it — it will puff up in the oven. You want just enough filling to make a nice little mound.

Putting It All Together

Make another ball of dough into a circle approximately the same size as the first one. Carefully place it over the pizza you’ve made and press firmly all around the edges of the pizza.

Press your fingers down into the center of the dough, about and inch or so, to make a shot glass-sized indentation. Fill the hole with sauce, and you can push some toppings in too if you like.

Using a baking sheet or pizza stone, put your pizza volcano in the oven at 450ºF for 20 minutes, or until the outside of the dough starts to brown.

Presenting Your Pizza Volcano

Have a place ready to set your hot pizza volcano as soon as you take it out of the oven. Pour about half an ounce of alcohol into the center of the pizza and immediately light it on fire. Don’t pour too much or it will drip out and the whole thing will catch fire when you light it.

Stand back and enjoy the show.

Sharing Your Pizza Volcano

Cut your pizza volcano into pieces and share with friends.