Friday, February 25, 2011

February's Pizza del Mese: Mushroom Pizza

With three pizzas worth of Classic Pizza Sauce in the freezer from last month's Pizza Margherita, I figured I better follow up with a pizza that uses that sauce, but tries a whole different dough--Parmesan Pizza Dough.

I wasn't totally confident in my crust last time. I don't think I kneaded it long enough to develop the gluten. Sort of by accident I pulled a bit off and I think it tore a little too easily. What I should have done was subjected my dough to the Window Pane Test. This month, I did just that. It made a huge difference. For one, the dough spread out into the pan much more easily. Also, the voluminous edge was easy to achieve without increasing the recipe by 50%, as Mark Scarbrough suggested in a comment to last month's post. It almost formed itself. I really think my less than awesome crust last month is almost entirely due to under-kneading. Granted, this is an entirely different dough from last month's Classic Pizza Dough. This month I tried Parmesan Pizza Dough. I'll have to revisit the Classic Pizza Dough armed with the Window Pane Test.

Other variables include two recipe substitutions in the Parmesan Pizza Dough recipe. I substituted whey from making Fromage Blanc for the water. I also substituted baking flour for all-purpose flour, with the idea that bread flour has more gluten than all-purpose. The look was right. And the hint of cheese flavor was awesome. But something about the texture was off. My vocabulary for describing pizza dough is pretty limited, but the first words that popped into my mind were "Wonder Bread." Mind you, I've never actually eaten Wonder Bread, so it's more of an abstract association than a real comparison. Maybe it wasn't chewy enough? Is pizza crust supposed to be chewy? It was definitely a step in the right direction from last week.

The recipe for the dough and the pizza call for Parmigiano-Reggiano. I used an Italian sheep cheese called Canestrato di Filiano which was recommended by the geniuses at The Cheese Cave. It's got more of a cheese flavor than Parmigiano-Reggiano. Again, my vocabulary is failing me. Gastronomichael has a post with a lot of fun information about this delectable cheese. If you can find it, I highly recommend Canestrato di Filiano. I also had it shredded on some pesto pasta. Yum!

Between the improved crust and the awesome cheese, this was a pretty darned good pizza. Adding Worcestershire sauce to the mushrooms in the frying pan makes them so much more flavorful and really makes you feel like you're eating something meaty. This pizza would make a great Meatless Monday meal for a devout carnivore. Once I perfect my crust, I'm definitely revisiting this recipe.

In other pizza news, the New York Times did an article allegedly about pepperoni pizza, but really about artisanal meat curers, which might be called salumeria. For 2012 maybe I should do cured meat of the month. What do you think?

Mushroom Pizza adapted from Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


  • Vegetable oil to apply to the cooking surface of Lodge Pro Logic Cast-Iron 14-Inch Pizza Pan
  • One recipe Parmesan Pizza Dough (see recipe below)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 C cleaned, thinly sliced mushrooms (I used white button, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms. I followed the note in the book which suggested only using the caps of shiitakes, not the fibrous stems.)
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 C Classic Pizza Sauce (see recipe in January's Pizza del Mese: Pizza Margherita)
  • 6 oz. mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated

  • Position the rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
  • Add the mushrooms and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have given off their liquid. Pour in the Worcestershire sauce, continue cooking, stirring frequently, until any liquid in the pan has been reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes. Cool at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  • Apply a thin coating of vegetable oil to the surface of the cast iron pizza pan. Lay the dough at its center and dimple the dough with your fingertips. Then pull and press the dough until it forms a 14-inch circle on the pizza pan. Leave bulk of dough around the edges to form an awesome crust.
  • Ladle the pizza sauce into the middle of the dough, then use the back of the ladle to spread the sauce evenly. Evenly cover the sauce with shredded mozzarella.
  • Spoon and spread the mushroom mixture evenly over the cheese, then top with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Place the pie on its pizza pan in the oven on the middle rack. Check it about every three minutes for the first nine minutes to pop any air bubbles that may blow up at its edge or across its surface. Bake until the cheese has melted and is bubbling and the crust's edge is golden brown, 14 to 18 minutes.
  • Transfer the pizza pan to a wire rack to cool for 3 minutes. Remove the pie from the pan, transferring it directly to the wire rack to cool completely. Transfer the pie to a cutting board to slice the pizza into wedges to serve.

Parmesan Pizza Dough adapted from Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

  • 3/4 C plus 1 T lukewarm whey (between 105 F and 115 F)
  • 1 1/2 t active dry yeast
  • 1/4 t sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 C bread flour, plus additional as needed
  • 2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • 1 T olive oil, plus additional for greasing the bowl

  • Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with warm tap water, drain it, and dry it thoroughly. Stir the water, yeast, sugar, and salt together in the bowl just until everything is dissolved. Set aside at room temperature for 5 minutes to make sure the mixture bubbles and foams. If it doesn't, either the yeast expired or the water was not the right temperature. Throw the mixture out and start again.
  • Add the flour, cheese, and olive oil to the yeast mixture, attach the dough hook, and stir at medium speed until a soft dough forms. Continue beating, adding more flour in 1 T increments should the dough turn sticky or climb up the hook, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Ignore the clock. Continue until the dough passes the Window Pane Test.
  • Wipe a clean, large bowl with a bit of olive oil on a paper towel. Place the dough in the prepared bowl, turning the dough so all sides are coated with oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Previous Pizza del Mese:
January's Pizza del Mese: Pizza Margherita

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Eartha Zoƫ said...

I made mushrooms this way and then used them as a filling for quiche and it was great! Thanks for sharing this tasty preparation method.