Your roasted garlic, mushroom pizza


What you need to know:

Do it yourself. If you have time on your hands, do not miss out on this recipe that is fingerlicking, writes, A. Kadumukasa Kironde II.

Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
50g (1/2 cup) red onions, finely sliced
450g (I1b) mixed wild mushrooms, thickly sliced if large. If wild mushrooms are unavailable, I suggest that you use oyster mushrooms which are pretty much available all year round at Nakasero  Market.
1 tablespoon chopped oregano 
225g (2 cups) fontina cheese, grated
225g (2 cups) Mozzarella cheese, grated
Semolina for dusting
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pizza dough:
2 ½ teaspoons dried yeast
250ml (1 cup) warm water (40° to 45°C/105 to 115°F)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
420g (3 cups) plain white wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red chili flakes or to taste 
1.    The first order of business would be to make the pizza dough and for this I would suggest a free standing electric mixer. Alternatively, in a large mixing bowl dissolve the yeast in the water and add the honey and stir together. Leave and set aside for 2 – 3 minutes or until the water becomes cloudy and then stir in the olive oil. If you are using an electric mixer, combine the flour and salt and them to the yeast mixture all together. Mix together using the paddle attachment and then change to the dough hook. 
Knead at low speed for two minutes and then increase to medium speed and knead for about  five minutes until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook. 
In case the machine bounces around, hold on to it with a firm grip. Turn the dough out onto to a clean work surface and knead by hand for 2 or 3 minutes longer until such time as it becomes smooth and elastic. When you press it with your finger it should slowly and gently spring back and at all cost it must not feel tacky.
2.    If you are making the dough by hand this should not be a problem. Combine the flour and salt and fold into the yeast and water mixture a third at a time using a large wooden (mulawo) spoon. As soon as you can scrape the dough out in one piece, scrape it on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you are using a food processor, mix the yeast, water honey and olive oil together in a small bowl or measuring jug. Place the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse once or twice. Then with the machine running, pour in the yeast mixture. Process until the dough forms a ball on the blade. Remove the dough from the processor and knead it on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, adding flour as needed until it is smooth and elastic.
3.    Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl, rounded side down first, then rounded side up. Cover the bowl tightly with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave it in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes or you can even leave it for an hour. When the dough is ready, it will stretch as it is gently pulled.
4.    Divide the dough into two  or four  equal balls, depending on how large you wish your pizza to be. Shape each ball by gently pulling down the sides of the dough and tucking each pull under the bottom of the ball, working round the and round the ball 4 or 5 times. Then, on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under your palm for about a minute, until it feels smooth and firm. Put the balls on a tray or platter, cover them with lightly oiled cling film or a damp cloth and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes. At this juncture, the dough balls can be covered with cling film and refrigerated for 1 – 2 days. You will need to punch them down again when you are ready to roll out the pizzas.
5.    For the roasted garlic, toss the garlic cloves with the olive oil and red chili flakes (according to your taste) in a small baking dish. Place the dish in a preheated oven to 190dC/375dFH/Gas mark 5 and roast the garlic, stirring now and again for about 15 – 20 minutes until the cloves become lightly browned. Watch the garlic as it browns or else it will turn into a bitter taste if it is roasted for too long. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. The garlic can be set aside until ready to use. 
6.    Make the mushroom topping while the pizza dough is resting. Heat a large sauté pan over a medium high heat and add the olive oil. When it is hot, add the red onions and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Add the oregano and roasted garlic and continue to cook, stirring for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms become tender and fragrant. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
7.    Preheat the oven to 250dC/500dFH or as high as it will go and place a pizza stone in it to heat. In the meantime, press out the dough. Place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface. While turning the dough, press down its center with heel of your hand, gradually spreading it out to a circle 18 – 20 cm (7 ¼ - 8 inches) in diameter for small pizzas, 30 – 35cm (12 – 14 inches) for larger ones. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to get an even circle. With your fingers, form a slightly thicker raised rim around the edge of the circle. Brush everything but the rim with a little olive oil, then sprinkle on the fontina and Mozzarella cheese.  
Sprinkle the sautéed mushrooms over the cheese and then top the pizzas you desire. Dust a pizza paddle (also called a baker’s peel) or a rimless flat baking tray with semolina and slip it under a pizza. Slide the pizza on to the hot baking stone or into a pizza pan, or place the pizza on to the stone --- the heat from stone will help it achieve a crisp crust. 
Bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese topping is bubbling and the rim of the crust is a deep golden brown. Remember that oven is very hot and be careful as you put the pizza in and again as you remove it from the oven.
8.    Use the pizza paddle to slide the pizza out of the oven and on to a cutting board. Repeat with the remaining pizzas and use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut the pizza into slices and serve at once.

Depending on your taste, you could as well choose to spread the dough with tomato sauce or pesto sauce, about 2 tablespoons for small pizzas, 4 – 6 tablespoons for larger ones. If you don’t have sauce, a can of tomatoes, drained, chopped and seasoned with salt and chopped garlic will do very nicely. Top with the shredded or grated cheeses of your choice. I am always partial to a mixture of fontina and mozzarella; the choice is yours. Try adding thinly sliced vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers ----yellow, red or green, red onions, sautéed sliced vegetables such as mushrooms, eggplant, courgettes or if you can find them artichoke hearts. 

Thinly sliced cured meats such as pepperoni, prosciutto, pitted olives, prawns or even small pieces of lightly cooked chicken. Last but not least, add a light sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, crumbled feta cheese or even blue cheese. Don’t forget some finely chopped fresh herbs such as basil, oregano and in case these are unavailable go with dried herbs like thyme, oregano or herbs de Provence.