Sunday, July 10, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizza

I love going grocery shopping with my mom. Not only does she buy almost everything that I say I want to eat, unless the traffic is really heavy I also get to drive to the supermarket. It’s motivating to have a destination when you’re driving; who likes going around in circles?

Yesterday morning, my mom and I went grocery shopping. We were picking up some toppings for the pizzas that some friends and I were going to bake in the afternoon. 

bacon, red onion, mozzarella pizza, with a smattering of fresh oregano leaves over top.

The first time I had ever made pizza was in culinary arts class a couple months earlier. It wasn't such a good experience because somebody took half my pizza while I was doing dishes the oven had not been hot enough, with the constant openings and closings, to promote a crisp crust. At home, I tried to make pizza with a whole wheat crust, but I found that the crust turned out dry and flat. Discouraged, I temporarily abandoned the idea of yeast breads.

I found a new recipe, from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, and immediately, I was inspired to try his pizza dough recipe. It was a hit among my friends and I because of its crisp texture. The thing I love the most about this recipe though, is the overnight method which makes it possible to make the dough the night before for convenience the next day. This pizza crust is definitely going to become a regular around here. 

Tips for Making Pizza:

Even if you like really thin crust pizzas (like I do), make sure you fold a bit of the edge of the crust over itself to create a border. This will help all your toppings stay on top of your pizza and prevent them from spilling out.

Use as little tomato sauce as possible. The tomato sauce helps the toppings adhere to the crust, but if you use too much, the crust may get soggy.

If you are using fresh herbs, sprinkle them on top of the pizza after it comes out of the oven. This way the herbs won’t wither or burn.

You need more cheese than you think. Shredded cheese really melts down. 

Flour the bottom of your pizza crust before you set it on top of the oiled baking sheet. This will ensure that the pizza doesn't stick to the pan when you bake it. 

Click below for the recipe.

50% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Yield: 5 pizzas (I ended up with about 10 really thin 8-inch pizzas)

  • 2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 ¼ cups unbleached bread flour (I didn’t have bread flour on hand, so I used all-purpose)
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups water, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • toppings, such as: bacon, ham, diced cooked chicken breast, cooked drained spinach, cheese, sliced onions, sliced bell peppers, etc.

The Day Before:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. If you are using a mixer, attach the paddle attachment. I did this by hand, mostly because I was too lazy to lift the stand mixer out of the cupboard. Mix the dough for about 1 minute, until it is well blended and slightly sticky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to hydrate the flour.

Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, (or continue by hand) for 2 to 3 more minutes, until the dough is smooth and supple. On an oiled work surface, stretch the dough out and fold it on top of itself. Do this on each side of the dough (four times in total). Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces and place on an oiled sheet pan. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days. At this point, you can also freeze the dough in separate oiled plastic bags. 

this is what the dough looks like before it rises in the
refrigerator overnight.

Baking Day:

Preheat oven to 450F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Have ready your preferred choice of toppings. (I used mushrooms, red onions, bacon, cooked chicken breast, bell peppers, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, and tomato sauce; anything goes.) 

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to your preferred thickness. Alternatively, you can use your fingers to stretch out the dough. If the dough begins to shrink as you attempt to roll it out, let it rest for a few minutes before rolling it out again. Place the dough on an oiled baking sheet and top with toppings.  

Bake for 6 minutes, rotate; bake for an additional 6 minutes, or until the cheese (if you used cheese) is bubbly and the crust is a deep golden brown colour. Let cool for at least 3 minutes before slicing or serving.

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