Lo and behold, a Mellow Mushroom recently opened up in my city, and people have been flocking to it like they were giving away free ice cream or something. My husband had never been and obviously heard about the rage, so we planned to eat there one weekend. We took Addie, and she surprisingly did very well during our 30 minute wait to get inside the restaurant and additional 20 minute wait for the food to arrive.
My previous non-memories of Mellow Mushroom have long been erased. My daughter, a non-pizza-crust eater, shoveled the crust into her mouth as quickly as she could (and this was after she already ate an entire bowl full of macaroni and cheese). Addie was onto something - Mellow Mushroom's crust was dark, slightly sweet, chewy, tender, and slightly reminiscent of Steak and Ale's pumpernickel bread. Remember those?
I thought that the crust might have been made with extra sugar and whole wheat but did a Google search to be sure. Surprisingly, I found out that the secret ingredient was molasses. The molasses gave the pizza the dark color and sweetness that I had been wondering about. And how did this taste? Amazing. Since I ran out out molasses, I substituted with maple syrup and my dough did not turn out as dark as the restaurant's. Regardless, the flavors were there - the dough had a slightly sweet undertone and the crust baked up crispy on the outside yet still had a good chew on the inside. My non-crust-loving toddler ate her entire pizza (crust included), so that should tell you how good this dough is.
Copycat Mellow Mushroom pizza dough
- 1 and 1/2 cups hot water
- 2 and 1/2 TBSP molasses (I ran out and subbed with maple syrup)
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 2 packets of instant yeast (4 and 1/2 teaspoons)
- 3 and 1/2 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- cornmeal (used for dusting your parchment paper)
- melted garlic butter
- parmesan cheese crumbs
In a measuring cup, combine water, olive oil and molasses. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer (or if mixing by hand), whisk together the flour, salt and yeast together on low speed. Slowly pour in the molasses mixture and turn the mixer to medium speed and continue to let the dough knead until the dough is smooth. Add more flour if needed.
If making the dough by hand, form a well in the middle of the flour mixture and slowly pour the molasses mixture into it. Using your hands, knead until the dough comes together and is smooth and elastic. You may need to add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Transfer the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a wet towel and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled (about 1-2 hours).
Preheat your oven to 500°F (or the highest temperature your oven will go). Place your pizza stone in the preheated oven and allow it to heat for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into two halves and form each half into a ball by folding the "sides" of the dough towards the back (imagine you are gift wrapping a balloon). Pinch the "sides" together in the back of the dough and press down slightly.
Cover each dough ball with a wet towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes. At this point, you can bake the dough balls or transfer to a freezer bag and refrigerate or freeze for a later use.
To bake the dough, sprinkle some corn meal onto a piece of parchment paper. Place the dough down on the parchment, and working from the center, push the dough outwards (you may rotate the dough/parchment) to form a circle. Do not make the center too thin or else it will break.
Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and add your toppings. Bake on the preheated pizza stone for 7-9 minutes or until the crust is golden. Add garlic butter immediately after removing the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese.
Yield: Two 12-inch pizza crusts
Source: Shutter N Spice; originally adapted from Lark and Lola