Sometimes, no matter how many amazing Chinese restaurants we go to, or fruit-filled wet markets we shop at, or how many Honeymoon Desserts and Paris Baguettes we have mochi and pastries in, we get homesick for the good ol’ U.S. of A. Probably on a daily basis. It sounds weird to be homesick for New Jersey suburbia, but there we are. So. The answers to these woes? Wild Mushroom Pizza.
Because Pizza makes everything better.
Sure, here in Beijing, we’ve got Domino’s (factory-farm pizza), Pizza Hut (tiny pizza–at least here in China), Annie’s (lifeless and tiny pizza), and a reasonable facsimile run by actual Italians called “La Pizza” (EXPENSIVE and let’s-be-honest-it’s-slightly-over-rated– pizza). But our pizza hearts belong to just two pizza-making entities:
1. Luigi’s. A tiny, fluorescent-lit place in a NJ strip mall, with–we believe–an actual in-house “Luigi,” who makes the most unbelievably chewy, crispy, flavorful crust. They always make our half white broccoli, half sausage pie with both poise and gusto.
and 2. Us. There’s nothing better than making your own pizza, how you want it, when you want it, and scarfing it down in front of your own TV in your own house, with your own choice of bootleg movie.
Can you sense that this is a regular thing for us? It is.
The one thing that might stand in our way is the most crucial of pizza ingredients: the cheese.
Mozzarella cheese is sold at a premium here in Beijing, so with every trip we make back to the U.S., we always have an insulated bag full of discounted and/or heavily couponed Polly-o tucked into the corner of the suitcase, to be stored in the Beijing freezer for use later (the insulated bag full of Polly-O is usually placed next to it’s best friend, the insulated bag full of Dubliner Irish Cheddar, Manchego, and Parmesan, which is placed next to IT’S best friend, the insulated bag full of Costco USDA Choice ribeye and sirloin steaks. Yeah. We said it.).
But the majority of you dear readers probably don’t have the same cheese shortage that we’re dealing with here, so there’s absolutely no excuse! Get thee hence and maketh this pizza forthwith! The combination of earthy wild mushrooms, zingy garlic, fruity olive oil, and creamy mozz is nothing short of symphonic.
The pizza dough recipe, which we’ve been using for years, without fail, is taken from the brilliant Jamie Oliver’s repertoire. It’s absolutely the best crust we’ve ever tried. I think you’ll love this mushroom pizza as much as we do!
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. In a separate medium bowl, dissolve the sugar or honey in the warm water. Mix in the yeast, followed by the olive oil. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, until it resembles a living, moving, sentient being.
(i.e. when it’s really foamy).
Pour the yeast mixture into the flour, and stir it in to make a dough. It will be sticky, so with floured hands, knead for 7-10 minutes, adding flour as necessary until you have a smooth dough.
Place the dough into a large floured bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm room for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size. And that’s it! That’s the crust. So easy. So deceptively easy.
Mmm mmm mmm.
At this point, you can punch the dough down, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. We don’t recommend just wrapping the whole thing in plastic wrap, because it continues to rise in the refrigerator, and tends to burst out of the plastic wrap in a rather unfortunate, I-forgot-my-Spanx-today sort of way. Not that I wear Spanx.
Just keep it in the bowl!
When you’re ready to make the pizza, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. In a bowl, toss together the olive oil, garlic, and mushrooms. Let sit for a few minutes.
Roll out or shape your pizza however you like—circle, rectangle, amorphous blob…whatever you like.
Spread some of the oil, garlic, and mushrooms across the dough, and dot with slices of mozzarella cheese (regular or fresh mozzarella. Both are good). Sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Bake for 10 minutes. A pizza stone is great, but a baking sheet will do fine as well! Sprinkle with some fresh parsley. Repeat as needed with more dough and toppings.
A close-up, just for you.
Slice it into wedges, pop in that bootleg, and sit back and munch whilst Jennifer Lawrence/Katniss breaks Josh Hutcherson’s/Peeta’s heart. Gah!
Any more topping ideas from the peanut gallery? Any great pizza places where you’re from? Team Peeta or Team Gale? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!!
Wild Mushroom & Garlic White Pizza (and Fool-proof Pizza Dough!)
FOR THE FOOL-PROOF PIZZA DOUGH (ENOUGH FOR 4 PIZZAS):
- 5 cups bread flour (all purpose can also be used in a pinch)
- 2-3 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 1/4 ounce packets active dry yeast
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
FOR THE TOPPINGS (ENOUGH FOR 1 LARGE PIZZA. MULTIPLY AS NECESSARY):
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (sliced thinly)
- handful of reconstituted dried porcini mushrooms or other wild mushroom
- handful of mozzarella cheese
- salt and black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley or basil
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. In a separate medium bowl, dissolve the sugar or honey in the warm water. Mix in the yeast, followed by the olive oil. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, until it gets really foamy.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the flour, and stir it in to make a dough. It will be sticky, so with floured hands, knead for 7-10 minutes, adding flour as necessary. Once you have a smooth dough, place it into a large floured bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm room for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- When you’re ready to make the pizza, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. In a bowl, toss together the olive oil, garlic, and mushrooms. Let sit for a few minutes. Roll out or shape your pizza however you like. Spread some of the oil, garlic, and mushrooms across the dough, and dot with slices of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 10 minutes. A pizza stone is great, but a baking sheet will do fine as well!
- Feel free to experiment with other toppings or store the rest of the dough in the refrigerator for later.