Wild Mushroom Pizza

My favorites pizzas have a thick flavorful crust, lots of fresh herbs and toppings, with only light amounts of cheese and tomato. I like to use a fresh sourdough crust, and I keep a sourdough starter alive in my fridge for such purposes. Basically, then, this pizza recipe starts with the recipe for my homemade sourdough bread. The remainder of the recipe relies on your imagination for combining good pizza toppings.

Sourdough Starter (begin a few days in advance):

Mix together in sealable container that holds about 10 cups. Let it sit overnight in the sink. (Contents will foam up.) Stir daily, or keep in the fridge to slow the fermentation down. Use at least once every week or two. Replenish each time you use it with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. If a yellowish clear liquid forms on top, pour some of the liquid off the top before stirring. If the starter turns purple, green or anything other than off-white, toss it and start again. If you can't keep using it, put it in freezer and replenish upon thawing.

Sourdough Pizza Crust:

Knead together the ingredients, or put in a bread machine on the dough cycle, and rise 1 hour. Spread corn meal onto a flat surface and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, or toss it the old fasion way if you know how (I'm not very good at it, myself.) Spread to the desired size of your pizza (12-16 inches) and place on a perforated pizza pan. Rise in a warm oven for 45 min to 1 hour. Turn oven up to 350º F and cook for 40 min, until it starts turning light brown.


When the pizza crust is done, spread the tomato paste on thinly, and sprinkle heavily with herbs. Now sprinkle a layer of mushroom duxelles around the pizza. I find Agaricus fuscofibrillosus to be my favorite species for this application, since its intense richness balances well with the other strong flavors. If you want to use fresh mushrooms on the pizza as well (or instead of) the duxelle, be sure to sauté the mushrooms for a few minutes first, since they won't really get thoroughly cooked with the pizza. Sprinkle the cheese on top next, and add the other ingredients according to your preference. Place in a 400º F oven and cook for about 10 minutes, until the cheese starts to bubble. Slice and serve.