Homemade Pizza with Mushroom, Onion and Pancetta

makes two 10-inch pizzas (about 20 ounces of dough)

Try to make the dough the day before you need it (you can even make it a couple of days ahead of time).  It will be easier to handle and taste better - the flavor develops as it undergoes a slow, cold fermentation in the fridge.

I use instant yeast because it requires no proofing and is more reliable.

* Different flours produce different results.  You can just use plain all-purpose flour and that makes a fine pizza. You can use all bread flour, which will make a sturdier, crisper crust.  Italian 00 flour is another fine choice and make a crispy crust.

 1 cup water
 ½ teaspoon instant yeast
 ½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
 enough flour* to form a dough that is still slightly sticky  (about 3 to 3½ cups).  The dough should feel a little wet, like Play-Doh, but should not come off on your fingers when you press it.

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
⅓ cup freshly grated hard cheese (pecorino, parmigianno, etc.)
¾ cup sliced fresh mushrooms
⅓ cup finely chopped onion
a little chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
4 ounces chopped pancetta
freshly ground black pepper

Whisk water, yeast and salt in a small bowl until blended.  Add about one cup of the flour and blend with the fork.  Keep adding some flour until the dough comes together into a ball.  The dough should still be a little sticky. Dump out on the counter and finish the dough by kneading and adding small amounts of flour until you get a dough that is not sticky but not dry (Play-Doh!)  It should not come off on your hands. If it does, keep adding a little flour and incorporate by kneading until your dough is the right consistency. Place in a greased bowl (using a little oil or Pam), flour the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for an hour (or two, if the room is cold).  Place bowl in fridge overnight.

The next day,  it’s nice to form the dough into equal size balls if you have the time (10 oz. makes a nice personal size pizza that’s about 10 inches).  I form them into balls and let them rise for about an hour or hour and a half, before I plan on making the pizzas. You can lay them out on a floured sheet pan and then cover lightly with plastic wrap.  Be sure to flour the sheet pan and the tops of the dough balls, because as the dough sits it will become a little wetter and the plastic will really stick to it.

If you don’t have time to form the dough into balls and let them rise again, you can use the dough straight from the fridge, but keep in mind that it will be a little harder to roll out and it will also not have developed the air inside the dough to produce a crust with lots of air pockets. 

Preheat your oven to 500° F, with a pizza stone in the bottom third of the oven.

Place a piece of baking parchment on top of a pizza peel or on top of an overturned sheet pan. Roll or stretch your pizza dough to a 10" round and place on the baking parchment.  Brush the dough with the olive oil, sprinkle the cheese over the top and place the mushrooms, onion, rosemary and pancetta on the top.  Grind black pepper over the top.

Transfer the pizza to your pizza stone in the oven by sliding it from the pizza peel to the stone, keeping the pizza on the baking parchment.  Cook for abou two minutes and then pull the parchment out from under the pizza - it should just slide out at this point.  Cook the pizza further, for about 7 - 8 more minutes, or until the top is cooked as you like it. 


✓ You can also freeze dough easily.  Remember - heat kills yeast, cold does not kill yeast.

✓ Long, cold fermentations produce gluten just like kneading by hand would.  Less yeast and longer cold fermentations also produce tastier doughs than more yeast and a fast fermentation.

✓ Pizza Stone:  Essential for home ovens for making pizza.  You will find these cheaply just about anywhere now.  Do not wash it ever. It will absorb soap and water.  Just scrape off residue.

✓ Using parchment paper is the easiest way to slide your pizza onto your pizza stone.

✓ Whether to put the stone on the upper rack or lower rack is a personal preference. 

✓ If you have a convection oven, use the convection setting when you bake pizza.  Bake at the highest temp your oven will go. 

The Italian Dish