International Pizza Pie Incident

When the moon hits your eye

Like a big-a pizza pie

That’s amore

When the world seems to shine

Like you’ve had too much wine

That’s amore

This classic Dean Martin song has far more to do with love than pizza pie, but it didn’t stop me singing it in my head whilst throwing myself into the

And quite the Incident it was.

This great idea is the brainchild of Penny from Jeroxie and will be the first of a series of International Incidents each with a different theme.

The rules are simple – stay on theme, but feel free to interpret any way you choose, then post at the designated time along with all the other participants.  Voila – there’s your party!

I decided to make the pizza on a night when there were 4 adults and 4 children all eager to be fed.  That meant the oven working over time and lots going on, particularly as the kids (Ages 3, 5, 6 and 8) got to “make their own”.

A good pizza needs a good dough, so it was the first element to be tackled.  I have used the following recipe for a few years now and it rarely fails me:

400gm “00” Flour
100gm Semolina
375ml water
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
7½ gm instant yeast

I used 1½ this recipe to make all the pizzas for the 8 hungry mouths.

There are two ways to make the dough – manual and machine assisted.  I did it the manual way (because I am still waiting for the magic fairies or Santa to bring me a Kitchen Aid!).

Sift the flour and semolina together in a very large bowl.  Lightly whisk the water, evoo and yeast together and pour into flour.  Start combining with a wooden spoon and when it has all come together turn out onto a well floured surface and knead with all your might for ten minutes.  If the magic fairies have already been to your place and you have a strong mixer,  just put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl and away you go.  The end result should be a smooth silky dough.

Lightly oil a bowl, place your dough in it and cover with plastic wrap.  Leave it to rise for a few hours.

Pre-rise dough

A couple of points to note about temperature when making the dough.  Heat will help activate the yeast, so if it is a cold day and you won’t have anywhere warm to leave the dough, it may help to use warm water.

Conversely, use cold water if the air temperature is already warm.  I can’t call it an exact science, but if you play around with it you will get to know what suits your environment.

With the dough now doing it’s thing, it was time to get the toppings sorted.  I had planned two types of pizza  for the adults and a variety of basic and kid friendly toppings for the kids to use in their “make your own”.

It is Autumn here in Melbourne at the moment and that means that mushroom season has started.  I love the rich earthy goodness of these fabulous fungi and have used them as the focal point for the main pizza.

Pizza Number One ~ Mushroom and Taleggio

To make the bases I section the dough, which has now risen so much it is almost spilling out of its bowl (really needed a bigger one), into the sizes I want then stretch it out by hand.

Post-rise dough

You can use a rolling pin if really necessary, but I like a rustic somewhat haphazard shape and think that the base cooks better if you don’t over work it at this stage.

The dough in this pizza gets a surprise hit of flavour with the addition of finely chopped coppa added before the base is stretched out.

Sliced and diced coppa

You could use other cured salume, but I like coppa because it originates from Naples, just like pizza.  It is made from the shoulder or neck of the pig.

Now some big slices of Taleggio go on top of the dough.

Taleggio is a semi-soft washed rind cheese (this time not from Naples, but from Lombardy in the north) and will spread a lot when you cook the pizza so there is no need to completely cover the base.

Mauri Taleggio from Lombardia

Pizza base with coppa and taleggio

All that is needed now are the mushrooms, I used 4 varieties:

Swiss Brown mushrooms are closely related to white Agaricus mushrooms, and are similar in shape with a tan to dark brown colour. The flavour is deeper and earthier than white mushrooms.

Shiitake mushrooms, originating from Japan, where they are known as “the King of Mushrooms”, have a broad, umbrella-shaped cap with tan gills. The flavour is rich and “woodsy” with a distinctive aroma.

Portobello mushrooms, also known as Giant Cremini mushrooms are a larger “flat” version of the Swiss Brown. The larger size produces deeper flavour and a dense meaty texture.

King Brown mushrooms are a new species cultivated in Australia. Rich and robust in flavour and tender in texture, they taste like an oyster mushroom but with five times the intensity.

Mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms

Chop all the mushrooms and sauté in butter with some chopped onion, garlic, fresh thyme and rosemary.  You want them to just soften and absorb the herbs and butter.

I think it adds to the flavour, and it also helps them to stay moist when the pizza goes in the oven.  Spread the just cooked mushrooms and pan juices evenly over the pizza base.

Ready to go in the oven

The trick to pizza is having a really hot oven, so turn yours to the highest you have and preheat for a really long time.  A preheated pizza stone is what I normally use to cook on, but given that I was making so many pizzas at once, I had to make do with oven trays.  I lined them with baking paper to ensure the base didn’t stick, and I compensated for not having pre-heated the trays by turning the oven to fan force for the cooking.

The pizza took about 15 minutes to cook.  My way of judging the pizza’s “readiness” is by lifting the side of the base.  Once it doesn’t bend, you know you have a nice crisp base – one that the topping won’t fall off.

Pizza Number Two ~ Signore Lupo

This is my take on my favourite pizza from a well known Melbourne pizza restaurant, Mr Wolf.  As the name would suggest it is the house specialty.

It has a tomato base with pork and fennel sausage, roasted cauliflower, red chilli, mozzarella and fresh basil after it’s cooked.  My preference is to use buffalo mozzarella, but this time I made do with the grated stuff I got for the kids’ pizzas.

Signore Lupo Pizza

The kids each had their own little base and made individual pizzas with kid friendly ingredients:  tomato passata, smoked ham, fresh pineapple, mini roma tomatoes, diced red and green capsicum and lots and lots of grated cheese.  No photos of the finished products – the kids were WAY too hungry and eager to eat.

In readiness for "make your own pizza" time

The International Pizza Pie Incident was tremendous fun, and I am already looking forward to the next incident, Dumplings.

There is quite a crew having fun with our International Incident parties, so make sure you check out the other pizza pie recipes.

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