Jim Lahey’s Mushroom Pizza

Jim Lahey’s Mushroom Pizza

I seem to be on a pizza kick.

What can I say? Maybe it’s because, now that I got a taste of how ridiculously easy it is to make dough from scratch, a whole new world has opened up. Or maybe it’s because my adorable, almost-a-preschool-graduate* son spent the weekend asking for two things: Hot dogs and pizza. I wasn’t about to make hot dogs from scratch, so instead I went for the za.

As much as I enjoyed my first effort, the crust didn’t thrill me. I knew there was a better recipe out there. And whaddya know, it was right in my kitchen, inside Jim Lahey’s My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method.

Have I mentioned this book before? If I haven’t, I should have. Not only is it freaking gorgeous, with incredibly helpful step-by-step photos, it’s by the man who created many of my favorite breads, the ones I have a hard time resisting whenever I walk past his Sullivan Street Bakery. Seriously, his pizza bianco? INSANE. It’s not really a pizza, more of a flat focaccia, sprinkled with salt and rosemary. At the restaurant where I worked back-of-the-house, we used it for a steak sandwich that inspired tears of joy. So. Enough with the sales pitch. Just buy the book.

None of Lahey’s pizzas are like the slice you’ll find at the corner pizzeria. They’re made in a half-sheet pan, first of all, and the topping goes all the way to the edge of the crust. The crust is quite thin, so it’s not like a Sicilian pie, or even a Grandma pie, either. As you can see above, it looks much more like a heavily-topped flatbread than a pizza. But oh, the taste. Crisp and chewy. Thin, but hearty enough to resist drooping. I used half whole-wheat flour, and you’d never know this was good for you. Covered in a shower of thinly-sliced mushrooms, onion, and thyme, it’s as simple as it gets. But sometimes the simplest things are the best, no?

*Holy crap.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Adapted from My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method
Makes enough for two 13 x 18-inch pies, 8 servings each
Weight Watchers: Each serving is 3 points

250 grams (1 1/2 to 2 cups) bread flour
250 grams (1 1/2 to 2 cups) white whole wheat flour
10 grams (2 1/2 teaspoons) instant or other active dry yeast
5 grams (3/4 teaspoon) salt
about 3 grams (3/4 teaspoon plus a pinch) sugar
300 grams (1 1/3 cups) room-temperature (about 72°F) water
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for the pans

In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using your hands, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. (I started with a wooden spoon, but the dough is quite stiff—and it took a good minute, maybe more, before all the flour was mixed in.) Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

If you only want to make one pie right now, use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide the dough in half. It can be refrigerated in a lightly oiled freezer bag for one day, or frozen for up to a month. Put it in the fridge overnight to thaw, and allow to come to room temp before using.

The following is for baking one pizza at a time…

Preheat the oven to 500°F, with a rack in the center. Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a 13 x 18-inch rimmed baking sheet—use your hands to spread it, which will help prevent the dough from sticking to them later. Scrape half of the dough onto an oiled pan in one piece. Gently pull and stretch the dough across the surface of the pan, and use your hands to press it evenly out to the edges. This took me quite a while; at first I wasn’t sure the dough was actually going to fill the entire pan. If your dough gives you any guff and springs back when you try to stretch it, walk away and let it rest for a few minutes, then try again. And if you’re like me, you’ll create tears in the dough as you go; they’re easily pinched back together. Once it’s just about touching the rim on all four sides, you’re good to go.

Mushroom Topping
Adapted from My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method
Makes enough for one 13 x 18-inch pie, 8 servings
Weight Watchers: Each serving is 1 point

1 1/4 pounds cremini mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
1 1/3 cups diced yellow onion
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Use a mandoline or a food processor fitted with the thinnest slicing blade (which is what I did) to cut the mushrooms into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms with the onion and thyme.

Scatter the mixture fairly evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges. (Lahey’s instructions say to put a bit more topping at the edges to prevent them overcooking, but I like a bit of crust so I didn’t do that. It worked just fine.) Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil.

That’s Harry’s cheese-and-olive portion on the left. Note that this method didn’t work so well—his was nearly burned before the mushroom section was ready. I wound up pulling the pizza from the oven and cutting off his section, then returning the rest to the oven for 10 more minutes.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (the olive-and-cheese was almost burned at 20, and the mushroom took the full 30), until the mushrooms are turning golden brown and the crust is pulling away from the sides of the pan. Serve hot or at room temperature.