06.13.10: dinner (the perils of pizza making when it’s humid).

Pizza alla Caprese con Mascarpone e Parmigiano Reggiano

I have no idea as to how we pulled this off on TV.

–Michael on our last demo on Connecticut Style, in which we successfully completed making a pizza on air.

There’s an easy reply to this observation, of course: climate control. Air conditioning is a delightful thing in a kitchen, but alas: our small New York kitchen does not have it. This means, of course, that certain culinary activities must be curtailed when the humidity is so bad it can take hours for wet hair to dry after a shower, and this escapade a few weeks ago proved that to a fault. The smoke alarm, while a constant companion in our kitchen when the oven is on at full blast on a good day, was freaking out because we kept spilling cornmeal and rosemary onto the floor of our gas oven and things got a little smoky.

We needed the cornmeal because as silky and wonderful as my dough turned out, by the time it came to transferring the first pie (a combination of leeks and rosemary) from the peel to the sheet pan in the oven, it refused to come off of the peel. It was more recalcitrant than a cow and while it ended up on the pan eventually, it did so in a strange blob and scattered some rosemary needles on the oven floor. Not wanting a repeat performance of this we had to leave the damn oven door open (another surefire way to set the smoke alarm off, by the way) and the two of us had to coax off the second pie using fingers, spatulas and the like. This was moderately more successful as we didn’t lose any toppings this time around, only spilling some corn grits.

By the by: we normally make caprese pizza with fresh mozzarella, but considering that we had leftover mascarpone in the fridge to use up we spread a thin layer of that on the dough and topped it all with some Parmigiano-Reggiano, and it was absolutely fantastic. I strongly urge you to try it.

Prosciutto di Parma, Cremini Mushroom and Cacio Roma Pizza

It’s a shame that our pizza-making has to go on hold for the time being, because both the caprese pizza as well as the one above ended up being combinations that we really enjoyed. We were in the mood for a meat pizza, but I was not feeling sausage because I didn’t want something that greasy. We had some prosciutto di San Daniele in the fridge that ended up working perfectly: paired with cremini mushrooms and Cacio di Roma cheese (my new favorite when I need a mild, melting cheese), we got the meaty taste we were seeking without it being too heavy either on the peel or on our palates.

The trick here is not laying the prosciutto on the pie when it first goes into the oven because it will become too crispy. Adding it halfway through though will warm it up nicely and mesh well with the mushrooms and cheese.

Just try to avoid making this on a really humid day to avoid any potential fire hazards/pizza fails. A tiny bit of sauce is OK here too, but I would throw the dough into the oven for a blond bake beforehand for about 5-8 minutes so it can withstand the added weight.

Come to think of it–that’s what we should have done for some of these pizzas in the first place. Oh well–c’est la vie. They were still delicious.

Mushroom and Proscuitto di San Daniele Pizza

Serves 2

  • 1/2 pizza dough recipe
  • 1/2 lb of cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
  • 1/4 lb Cacio di Roma cheese, grated
  • 1/4 lb prosciutto di San Daniele, sliced thinly
  • Sea salt
  • Corn meal

Set oven to bake at the highest temperature you can. Sprinkle either an upside-down baking sheet or a pizza peel with cornmeal, and gently stretch out the dough to fit the peel/pan.

Layer on the cheese (not too much or the dough will be weighed down) and then the mushrooms, transfer pie to pan in oven/move pan into oven and bake for about 6 minutes. Open oven and carefully layer on slices of prosciutto, then resume baking for another 6 minutes. Carefully remove pie from oven, let cool, and then cut to serve.

  1. oh how i love homemade pizza. and oh how i understand the importance of humidity control! we had the same issue a few weeks back with the pizza being unruly and not coming off the peel, until it was a strange blob on the pizza stone… these do look great though (and you just made me starving for a prosciutto-cremini version!

  2. I guess that’s one more reason that my state rocks…arid, dry climate. So no need for a pizza reprieve…maybe you should come visit? And make me those pizzas? Please?

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