Vegetarian Pizza (Mushrooms And Caramelized Onion)
For the dough (thick and crispy):
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2/3-cup warm water (105° to 115° F)
2 cups bleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
A bit of olive oil
For the toppings:
Raspberry wasabi dipping mustard (or a similar sauce)
Cooked mushrooms—so they shed their liquid
Raw mozzarella cheese
Crumbled gorgonzola, blue or some other strongly flavored cheese (optional)
Truffle oil (optional: if you have any, it’s fake, like mine)
For the crust:
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand 1 minute, or until the yeast is creamy. Stir until the yeast dissolves.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt (I omit the salt and use garlic or onion powder). Add the yeast/water and stir until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Kneading is imperative to get the right consistency.
Very lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, and roll the dough in it so it has a light coating of oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place and let it rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Flatten the dough with your fist. Cut the dough into 2 pieces and shape the pieces into balls (this is the step that I omit). Flatten the dough slightly. Place the balls (or ball) of dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap, allowing room for the dough to expand. Let rise 60 more minutes, or until doubled in size. At this point—using a pizza stone—I preheat the oven for 1 hour at 500° F. Do you really need a pizza stone? For me, I highly recommend it.
Now it’s time to spread the dough out on a piece of parchment paper to a 12-inch diameter. Some experts tell you not to roll the dough out, but if your skill level is just not ready for tossed dough, roll it out. That’s what I do.
Once the dough is properly sized, poke some holes in it with a fork to prevent bubbles when cooking. Using whatever method works best for you (I use a pizza peel), transfer the parchment paper/dough onto your pizza stone and cook for a few minutes and ensure to keep an eye on it and deflate any bubbles that start forming on the crust.
After the crust gets, well, a little crusty, remove it and place it on a wire rack that allows for plenty of air to circulate underneath it. This prevents sogginess. Now its ready for the toppings.
For the toppings:
While the dough is rising, slice up your onions and cook them very slowly in a pan over low heat. I use a bit of olive oil to keep things lubricated. Truly caramelized onions can take up to an hour to cook—don’t rush them by turning up the heat. Onions do NOT caramelize in 10 minutes, unless in a pressure cooker.
While onions are caramelizing, in a separate pan, slowly cook the mushrooms.
When everything is precooked, including the crust, add your sauce base, be it the wasabi mustard that I used, or something else but red sauce. Or, you could just brush the top with a little olive oil.
Add your cheese, shrooms and onions and put the pizza in a 500-degree oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then keep an eye on it and cook until the cheese is nicely melted.
Let cool on a rack for a couple of minutes before you cut it up. You will love this pizza!