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Did you know that pepperoni is by far this country’s favorite pizza topping? Over one-third of all pizza orders placed annually include pepperoni. After that, most-requested toppings are mushrooms, extra cheese, sausage, green peppers, and onions.
With that in mind, we’ve created a new take on America’s favorite pizza. This one features just a hint of red sauce, topped with chunks of pepperoni and salami, sautéed portabella mushrooms, and roasted onions. And for the cheese? Our favorite is Vermont’s Cabot brand habañero or chipotle cheddar. The toppings are piled atop a flavorful, chewy crust, whose secret is an overnight rest in the fridge for the dough.
Read this recipe all the way through before beginning. The dough needs a cool rest, some of the toppings can be prepared a day or so ahead… it’s a very flexible recipe, so bend it to your own schedule.
1 3/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
1 1/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) semolina*
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) King Arthur Easy-Roll Dough Improver (optional, but helpful)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (1/4 ounce) Pizza Dough Flavor (optional, but delicious)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) olive oil
1 1/8 cups to 1/4 cups (9 to 10 ounces) cool water; use the lesser amount in summer, the greater amount in winter (and something in between in spring and fall)
*If you don't want to use semolina, use a total of 3 cups all-purpose flour, and reduce the water to 1 cup + 2 tablespoons.
1 pound sweet or yellow onions, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 pound portabella mushroom caps, or “Baby Bella” mushrooms
1/2 pound pepperoni or a mixture of pepperoni and Genoa salami, unsliced
8-ounce block of cheese, flavor of your choice*
1/3 cup (3 ounces) bottled pizza or spaghetti sauce, or your own red sauce
*Feel free to choose your own favorite block cheese, anything from mild Muenster or Swiss to an assertive flavored cheddar, such as we like to use.
To make the dough: Mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients¬–by hand, mixer or bread machine–till you've created a smooth, very soft, fairly sticky dough. Don't over-knead the dough; it should hold together, but can still look fairly rough on the surface.
Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes; then refrigerate it for 4 hours (or up to 36 hours); this step will develop the crust's flavor. Make sure you have the dough in a large covered bowl, or put it into a large, lightly greased plastic bag; leave plenty of room for expansion.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to rest and warm up a bit while you prepare the toppings.
To prepare the toppings: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Toss the onion chunks in olive oil to coat, and bake them for 45 minutes to an hour, or until they’re starting to brown all over. (You may roast the onions up to several days ahead of time, if desired.) Wash the mushrooms, and if you’re using the large caps, cut them into bite-sized chunks. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan, and fry the mushrooms until they’ve softened and browned. Remove from the heat, and set aside.
Cut the pepperoni and salami into 3/4” chunks. Cut the block of cheese into 1/4” slices, then stack the slices and cut each into four pieces; the cheese chunks should be about 1/4” thick x 1” x 1/2”.
Use vegetable oil pan spray to lightly grease an 18” x 13” baking sheet, or two 9” x 13” pans. Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of the pan(s).
To assemble and bake the pizza: Gently stretch and pat the dough into the pan(s). You’ll probably get about two-thirds of the way there before the dough starts shrinking back; walk away for 10 minutes. When you come back, you should be able to pat it all the way into the corners of the pan, or close to it. Allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes to an hour (or more, for thicker crust). If you didn’t leave the oven on from roasting the onions, preheat it to 450°F. Spread the sauce in a thin film over the crust. Bake the pizza on the lower oven rack for 8 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and arrange the onions, mushrooms, meat, and cheese on top. Return to the oven, and bake on the upper oven rack for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned, both top and bottom. Check it midway through, and move it to the bottom rack if the top is browning too much, or the bottom not enough.
Remove the pizza from the oven, and transfer it from the pan(s) to a rack to cool slightly before serving. For easiest serving, cut into squares with a pair of scissors.
Yield: a dozen generous slices.