Cep and Walnut Pizza Recipe

Cep and Walnut Pizza

It’s been a bit of a mushroom fest around here lately: Maxence and I went foraging in the forest of Rambouillet earlier this month, and we came back with six and a half kilos of mushrooms between us (that’s fourteen pounds).

Naturally, we didn’t venture out willy nilly into the forest (I’ve read enough children’s tales and seen enough video projects not to do that). We went with a pro, a friend who’s a seasoned mushroom picker, who knows her Cantharellus cibarius from her Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, and who was able to guide us to the most prolific spots and help us look for and identify the various specimens.

It was the kind of golden fall day that begs for a bundled-up picnic by a pond with ducks quacking about and, as luck would have it, that’s exactly what we got — a welcome break halfway through an intense day of scanning the forest floors for the cap of a mushroom, or the tell-tale lifted leaves under which a cep might lurk.

Maxence turned out to be really good at this game (read: better than me) and our baskets were soon heavy with lepiotas, an exceptional manna of millers, a few wood hedgehogs, the odd wood blewit, and miscellaneous boletus, including an unhoped for amount of Boletus edulis, the prized cep (a.k.a. porcino) whose meaty flesh knows no equal in the mushroom realm.

Once home, exhausted like we hadn’t been in a long time, we got to work sorting, cleaning, and prepping our bounty so the bulk of it could be cooked while fresh, which took the better part of two hours. Our reward: a young cep carpaccio and cep spaghetti for dinner, and a freezer stocked with tubs of ready-to-gobble mushrooms and mushroom broth for future meals.

And a week later, on a Friday night, I used the remainder of our ceps to make cep and walnut pizzas, the memory of which still move me as I type this.

I prepared a sourdough-leavened dough with my starter, and made the whole thing vegan by using some of the cashew “cheese” I’d made that week, in place of mozzarella. A drizzle of the fabulous olive oil they use at Delancey (thanks, M&B!) and a sprinkle of pepper and torn basil later, we feasted on delicious fall pizzas that did plenty justice to the fruits, um, spores of our foraging.

Cep and Walnut Pizza

For the sourdough pizza dough:
– 200 grams (7 ounces) bread or all-purpose flour
– 3 grams (0.1 ounce) salt
– 75 grams (2.6 ounces) ripe 100%-hydration starter (see my post on natural starter bread)
– 100 grams (3.5 ounces) water
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
cornmeal for dusting
(Alternatively, you can use your favorite recipe or Peter Reinhart’s; shoot for 380 grams or 13.5 ounces dough.)

For the ceps:
– 600 grams (1 1/3 pounds) fresh ceps a.k.a. porcini (if unavailable or unaffordable, substitute the mushrooms of your choice, plus a handful of rehydrated dried ceps) to yield about 450 grams or 2 1/2 cups cooked ceps
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil

For the topping:
– about 2/3 cup cashew cheese
– the meat from 8 walnuts, crumbled
– a small handful basil leaves
– freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Makes two 26-cm (10-inch) pizzas.

Prepare the dough at least 2 1/2 hours in advance, or the day before.

In a mixing bowl, place the flour, salt, starter, water and olive oil. Stir until the dough comes together (a dough whisk is handy). It should be a little tacky, but workable; add a little water or flour to adjust the consistency. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let it ferment at room temperature for 2 to 6 hours. If you’re making the dough the day before, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Let the dough come to room temperature for about 2 hours before using.

While the dough is fermenting, prepare the ceps. Trim the mushrooms, rinse briefly or brush to remove the dirt, then cut into slices. Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant.

Add the mushrooms, season with salt, and cook over medium-high heat, uncovered, stirring from time to time, until all the mushroom water has evaporated and the ceps are turning golden in places. (Frozen cooked ceps can also be used; thaw overnight, and reheat in a skillet before using, making sure all the water evaporates.)

About 30 minutes before baking the pizzas, preheat the oven as hot as it will go (mine maxes out at 300°C or 570°F) with a baking stone inserted in the lower half of the oven. (You can use a simple baking sheet if you don’t have a baking stone, but don’t preheat it.)

Divide the dough in two. Take one piece, knead it gently into a ball, and stretch it into a circle, about 26 cm (10″) in diameter (this video shows you how). If you find the dough resists and shrinks back, just let it relax for a few minutes before trying to shape it again. The circle of dough will be thin; be sure to leave a slightly thicker rim all around.

Dust a pizza peel with a little cornmeal and place the circle of dough on top. Drop small dollops of cashew cheese all over the pizza, and sprinkle with half of the walnuts. Top with half of the ceps and slide the pizza onto the baking stone. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, until the rim of the pizza is lightly puffed and golden.

Remove the pizza from the oven, drizzle with a good olive oil, sprinkle with pepper and torn basil, and serve.

While the first pizza is baking, repeat with the remaining ingredients to make a second pizza.

Cooking/baking time: 20 min

  • Holy moly does that look good! I’ve never cooked with fresh cep mushrooms before (called porcinis in my neck of the woods). They sound just wonderful, and your vegan pizza looks so savory and delicious! I imagine you don’t miss the dairy at all with so many flavorful ingredients.

  • Oh, I’ve been dying to go foraging like this! I need a trusty mushroom guide, too!

  • I had Ceps the other day for the first time. I just pan fried them in a little olive oil and half a glove of garlic. Tremendously delicious! Can’t believe it’s taken me 35 years to discover them!

  • What a fun day. The benefits of which should last a while, for many delicious mushroomy meals. Just lovely.
    Heidi xo

  • I do admire a forager! I will stick to foraging at my local food coop!

  • How unique! I know my daughter will love this one. Thanks for sharing :}. You might also enjoy some delicious and healthy recipe ideas from a new cookbook I just acquired called, “Let’s Cook Tonight,” by Gigi Centaro. My family so far is really enjoying her dishes and they are so simple to make. She even has some great menu ideas for freezer meals that you can prepare ahead of time.

  • I’ve been terrified to try foraging (for no good reason other than that I am neurotic!), but I am jealous of your guided mushroom tour. If you’re going to have a “last meal” this sounds like a fabulous way to go. ;)

  • I’ve always wanted to go foraging for wild mushrooms …. And you paint a beautiful picture of it. I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity to go anytime soon but I will definitely give that pizza a go … It looks so tasty I now have a craving for mushrooms!

  • I am so jealous! What I wouldn’t give to have fresh porcini. Thanks for the recommendation on the olive oil too.

  • looks amazing! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Noreen

    Last year I froze some mushrooms that I’d sauteed in a little butter, but when thawed they were so rubbery that I had to mince them to make them edible. How do you freeze them?

    • I actually proceed as you describe: sauté them (in olive oil in my case), cool, then freeze, and I’ve never had problems with the texture. Could it be that they were in fact overcooked? Or maybe some mushroom varieties freeze better than others?

  • Lovely! I think foraging is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon,wish I knew more about how to do it, because this looks amazing!

  • What a lovely pizza! I have never been foraging for mushrooms (yet). But I took a class – yes a class! – on identifying and foraging mushrooms locally so I’m ready to go! Although I did just see this article.

    • I saw that article too! And the questions it raises are certainly valid — I believe foraging is still a very marginal/personal activity in the forests around Paris (I don’t know of a single chef who engages in it for instance) but it’s easy to understand the damages it causes when practiced on a large scale.

  • In Northern Tuscany porcin imushrooms are very common and also ovolo buono (amanita caesarea) can be found. Village people know mushrooms very well but I still don’t feel confident and double check with trusted friends. A classical dish in our hills is home made egg pasta with a simple porcini sauce.
    Congratulations Clotilde, your blog is superb!

  • holy moly this looks AMAZING. mmmmm.

  • So much fun! And so yummy. Thanks!

  • Ana

    I so appreciate this recipe and the bonus for me is that it’s vegan! Merci beaucoup!

  • I “foraged” for porcini recently at my local market…I haven’t seen a lot of them so far this year, but they are to die for. This pizza looks divine!!

  • Perfect timing… I was just thinking about using my starter to make pizza, which I’ve never done before, but was too insecure to come up with a recipe by myself….

    I’ll give yours a try (too bad I won’t have these wonderful mushrooms to top my pizza…)


  • What a haul! Super jealous. I love mushroom picking. I always try to find an excuse to be in Chamonix for the chanterelles and griolles season.

  • Yummy! I would love to have a mushroom fest.

  • A feast for eyes. Delicious and yummy! Sure will try this recipe.

  • Lovely, creative pizza. You just can’t beat pizza making when it comes to using your imagination. You can put almost any combination of ingredients together and come up with something fantastic. :)

  • I love how you had success with cashew cheese. I’ll have to try that as I’m into making more vegan dishes these days. Thanks for sharing! Your pizza sounds wonderful.

  • wow-sounds great-I need a mushroom guide too!

  • Oh, I have serious mushroom envy! Ceps/porcini are my absolute favourites. I was in the Piedmont recently and ate porcini all weekend – I was in mushroom heaven. That pizza looks fantastic and if I can actually lay my hands on some fresh ceps I will try it.

  • YUM! porcini pizza!

    I’m excited!

    I’m thrilled!

    I’m making it tonight……

    What can I do with these local chanterell mushrooms, have you ever added these to pizza???


    • I’m sure you could make the exact same pizza with chanterelles instead of porcini.

  • OMG! Made this last night and have to say that EVERYONE loved it. Including my fussy husband and my frustrating kids. Thank you!

    • Happy to hear it, Sandy, thanks for reporting back!

  • Pizzalisious….I have tried my hand in Pizza making and always its been a disaster…I love Pizza however don’t seem to be able to master the art…

  • mmmm…ceps!

    I’m just amused at finding out that foraging is not a very common activity in Paris.

    I’m from Catalogne (just below France…hi!) and here it is a very popular hobbie, thousands of people, especially from Barcelona, go forgaing (whole families!) on fall weekends. Not so good for the forest as you can imagine.

    Here it is very popular to dry the mushrooms and yo can get them fresh or dry at farmers markets.

  • Oh wow! I had no idea there were so many different kinds/names of mushrooms… and I am a die-hard mushroom fan (or so I thought) Interesting post and even more of an interesting pizza recipe! sounds delicious

  • This is just great piece of work. Your writing is great. Kudos

  • I tried the recipe and it workedout great!

  • Never heard the term ‘ceps’ before….. I tried this with dried porcinis and it was ok, far far better with the fresh morelles that I used first time around

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