I’ve been to Rome once and even though I spent three out of the five days I was there in our hotel room with an acute case of food poisoning hoping to whichever god I could think of that I could be put out of my misery I was impressed with their pizza. So much so when I got back to Sydney I wanted to open a pizza shop. “Rome by the slice” I think it was to be called.
The thin, delicate nature of the crust and the commitment to the pizza gods that they will not sway from the code of the brotherhood of the Roman pizza by putting more than one or two toppings on it. All I could do once I could actually keep them down was to eat more and more pizza. One style in particular, the mushroom pizza – probably made with porcini really stuck with me.
This style of pizza is very hard to find in a country like Australia, which like the US tends to measure the worth of a pizza by the number of toppings and the amount of cheese that is slathered on top. So I present my version of the Roman mushroom pizza, with prosciutto in this case but it is just as tasty with or without.
Making the dough yourself is a must. Pre bought bases are just not as good and besides, it’s very easy.
- A pinch of salt & sugar
- Olive oil
There’s no set rule to the amounts used to make the pizza base. It all depends on how much you need to make.
Add the yeast and sugar to a glass of warm water and let it sit for 15 minutes. This will activate the yeast. Place flour, salt and olive oil in a bowl and when the yeast and water mixture is ready slowly add and mix until you end up with a sticky mixture.
You will then need to knead and beat this mixture to activate the gluten. This will make the dough elastic and after a good ten minutes of this when pulled it should not tear. If it is sticky add more flour. If it tears add more water. Either way keep kneading for another five minutes.
Once that’s done cover the dough and leave it somewhere warm for a couple of hours to let it rise.
- 3 large Swiss brown mushrooms
- 20 grams dried porcinni mushrooms
- Thyme, garlic, salt and pepper
- tomato paste
- prosciutto – we used a ridiculously expensive $100 a kilo version but I doubt it makes much difference
- Parmesan and mozzarella cheese
With the mushrooms we are trying to emulate a full porcini mushroom using cheaper local mushrooms and dried porcini. Of course if you live in a country where you can buy fresh porcini then please do use them.
Pour approximately half a cup of boiling water over dried porcini mushrooms. If they aren’t swimming in it add more until they are. Then add a dash of salt, pepper and a teaspoon or two of crushed garlic. Leave this mixture to marinate for a couple of hours.
When the porcini “soup” is ready slice up your regular mushrooms thinly and fry them for a couple of minutes in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. When the mushrooms have softened up throw in the porcini soup and simmer for a few more minutes. Remove the mushrooms and continue simmering the soup until you end up with a nice condensed mushroom consume. Save it for later.
I like to prebake the pizza base on my pizza stone. To do this pre heat your oven to around 180c or 200c for a fan forced oven. Place the pizza base on the stone and cook for about ten minutes or until it starts to go slightly golden. Remove the base once pre-cooked and place toppings.
For a prosciutto and mushroom pizza a tomato sauce is employed but for the purely mushroom pizza just brush the base with olive oil. Place the mushroom generously on top and then add thinly sliced layers of prosciutto. Cover with a thin layer of shaved parmesan and another thin layer of mozarella. Bake until golden.
For a mushroom only pizza we just smother the pizza base with some garlic and olive oil then place the mushrooms on top followed by a generous layer of parmesan and then mozarella.
This has to be amongst the tastiest of pizzas I have ever had. The medley of dried porcini mushrooms, swiss mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme have created a flavour sensation. Combined with the bite of parmesan cheese it’s a perfect mix.
Pizza is notoriously difficult to photograph with all sorts of tricks employed to make the pizza look as tasty and as fresh as possible. In my case as you can no doubt see, I didn’t fair much better than your average happy snapper. The important part is that the pizza tasted good.