Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizza

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Ever since reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle we have tried to follow her lead and have a weekly pizza night.  Not only is pizza delicious, but it's also easy to make, great for any season, and can be very healthy.  Homemade pizza crust is something many people have tried and struggled with, and we are no exception.  However, through our trails and errors we have found a recipe that works well every time and come out great.  Our resulting crust is flavorful and crisp, while not overpowering the pizza toppings themselves.  It also freezes well, so we typically make double batches and freeze away three doughs for later use.  The morning before use, just put the dough on the counter and it will be ready to roll by dinner time.

Here are a few of the things we have found most helpful for creating great crust:
  • Roll out the dough evenly thin with a long rolling pin.  This will ensure that the result isn't too doughy.
  • Preheat the oven and pizza stone well before cooking.  Pizza stones are heavy blocks of stone that help regulate oven temperatures and cook food, especially pizza, evenly.  We leave ours in the oven at all times, which helps keep the oven at an even temperature.  These stones can be bought quite cheaply and are a great investment.  
  • Prior to baking the crust, poke holes in it with a fork to prevent it from puffing up and yielding a thin, crisp crust instead.
  • Bake the crust for about 10 minutes before putting on the toppings.  This gives it a chance to crisp.
  • Don't overload the pizza with sauces and toppings.  The pizza doesn't need to be oozing with cheese and sauce to taste delicious.
As for toppings, the options are almost unlimited.  See below for what we have tried, but we encourage you to experiment.  Utilize whatever toppings are currently in season and whatever mix of cheeses you like (it doesn't always have to be mozzarella and parmesan).  This part is especially great to let guests or kids do as each person can make their own individual pizza or pizza half anyway they like.

Even if you've tried to make pizza from scratch before, we would urge you to give it another try and see how easy and delicious it can be when using our suggestions.  

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking
15 oz (3 3/4 cups) white whole wheat flour
1 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 cups cool water
1 tbs honey
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Measure 2 cups of flour into mixing bowl and stir in yeast.  Combine water and honey and add to flour mixture and stir well.  Cover with plastic and let rest for 1 hour.  

Stir in olive oil, salt, herbs, and cayenne and then add remaining flour.  Turn dough onto floured surface and kneed to 5 minutes until it is elastic and soft (this can also be done in a stand mixer).  Return dough to bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.  Turn dough onto floured surface and divide in half.  Form each half into loose round and cover for 20 minutes.  (At this point you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze.)

Preheat oven and stone to 375° F.  Roll out one ball of dough into 12-inch round.  Prick dough all over with a fork, then bake crust on stone for 10 minutes.  
After crust has baked, increase oven temperature to 425° F.  Add toppings to crust and bake until toppings are warm and cheese has melted, about 10 minutes.

One ball of dough makes at least 2 servings.

Topping variations (these are what we have tried so far, but by no means is a complete list.  Let us know what variations you like best.)
  • Roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, dark greens (beet greens, kale, mustard greens, etc), blue cheese, parmesan cheese (pictured on this post)
  • Roasted root vegetables (carrots, onions, beets, squash, etc.), mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese (also goes well with a little blue cheese)
  • Caramelized onions and garlic, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese
  • Roasted potatoes, kale, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese
  • Goats cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic oil, then topped with arugula salad after baking
  • Sliced tomatoes, roasted zucchini, caramelized onions, mozzarella cheese
  • Eggplant, tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella
  • Caramelized mushrooms, onions, garlic, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese