I've worked my share of shifts on pizza stations. After a long night of flipping pies, one of my favorite things to make for staff meal was pizza bianca.
A pizza bianca, or white pizza, is made without tomato sauce, instead using olive oil and parmesan or a white sauce as you see here. Alfredo pizza can be a synonym.
My favorite toppings were with thinly sliced prosciutto or speck ham, and mushrooms. Here I used frozen Chicken of the Woods. Sometimes I'd add fresh arugula on top after it was sliced and cooked.
My secret for making pizzas at home
I know not everyone has a wood fired pizza oven, but that doesn't mean you can't make really good pizza at home.
The secret to making restaurant quality pizza at home is to cook the crust twice.
I make a simple pizza dough and roll out rounds or ovals depending on how I'm feeling and what kind of equipment is available. Then the dough is par-cooked on a grill, griddle or a pan.
I often make them in an oval shape which is how I served them in my restaurants as an appetizer, cut into triangles.
After the pizza base is par-cooked, you spread the crust with sauce and pizza toppings and put into an oven directly on the rack. There's no need for a pizza stone, but you can use one if you like.
It's important to put a baking sheet or a pan underneath to catch any drips of cheese coming off the pizza crust.
Par-cooking wild mushrooms
Most wild mushrooms should not be put on a pizza without being cooked first.
Here I used mushrooms from my freezer that I sauteed quickly before adding to the pizza. If you're not familiar with using your harvests from frozen I describe my process in How to Freeze Wild Mushrooms.
Ham and Mushroom Pizza Bianca
- 1 griddle or 12 inch cast iron pan for cooking the pizza bases
- 1 Rolling Pin
- 1.5 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp dry white wine
- 1 cup half and half
- 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- Fresh ground white pepper to taste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon mashed roasted garlic see note
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour or bread flour or 00 flour
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 teaspoons sugar
- 5 oz cooked or raw mushrooms or more to taste
- Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- Torn leaves of fresh basil optional
- 2 slices prosciutto or other high quality ham
- 2-3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- Mix the water, oil and sugar. Add the flour and yeast and mix well until combined and a dough forms. It’s ok if it isn’t perfectly smooth.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Knead the salt into the dough on a work surface, portion into 4 pieces, roll into balls and refrigerate or freeze until needed.
- Heat the butter in a small sauce pan. Add the flour and stir to coat and cook for two minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the, garlic and splash of wine and whisk.
- Add the half and half and whisk, turning up heat to medium high. Cook until the sauce is thickened, whisking to prevent lumps. Season the sauce with a pinch of salt, a grating or tiny pinch of nutmeg and the white pepper if using. Remove the pan from the heat
- The sauce will be a thick, spreadable batter when it cools.
- If using mushrooms from a store, cut them into slices and arrange on the pizza.
- If using fresh wild mushrooms Cook the mushrooms in a dry pan until they wilt and release their juice. Add a teaspoon of oil and brown lightly, then reserve until needed.
- On a floured work surface, roll out a 5 oz ball of dough into an 8-9 inch circle. You can also roll 3-4 oz balls out into a wide oval, cook them on a griddle and call them flatbread pizzas.
- Heat a pan larger than the round of dough (I used a 12 inch pan) on a burner. Cook the round of dough for a couple minutes on each side until puffed and browned. Some air bubbles will occur, but they will deflate after cooking.
- Spread roughly ½ cup of the cooled sauce over the cooked dough, leaving 1 inch around the edge.
- Put a layer of mozzarella on top of the sauce (roughly ¾-1 oz of cheese). Arrange the mushrooms on the pizza, sprinkle with a little extra mozzarella and parmesan, then finish with the sliced prosciutto on top. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes if using.
- Preheat an oven to 500 F. You'll want the pizza on the middle rack.
- Put a baking sheet on the oven rack underneath where the pizza will be to catch any dripping cheese.
- Put the pizza directly on the oven rack and cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. If you want to brown it at the end, turn the oven on broil for a minute or two, making sure to watch it carefully.
- Remove the pizza from the oven, cut into wedges, sprinkle over the torn basil leaves and serve.
Roasted GarlicWrap a bulb of garlic in foil and cook in a 325 oven for 30 minutes or until tender. You can substitute a teaspoon of minced or grated fresh garlic, added to the butter before the flour.
- Sometimes I add a few handfuls of fresh arugula after I cut the pizza into wedges.
- Cooking a few chopped black trumpet mushrooms into the cheese sauce is very good too.