Monday, March 14, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizza Recipe, and Tips on Making it Great

Thanks to a bulk order of whole wheat flour, I've switched to making most bread and pizza with whole wheat flour. We eat pizza about once a week, so I'm really excited to have settled on a good recipe. Our pizza is still not perfect, but I figure by the time Noah's a teenager it will be pretty close. Pizza (and bread, for that matter) don't really require a lot of hands-on work, they just require time at home.

Some things we do that we think make our pizza better than it used to be
1) Whole wheat baking requires a longer rise time. Don't get too focused on the time, consider what you're trying to make the dough look and feel like; if your kitchen is cool, it will take longer for the yeast to work, if it's warm, it'll take less time.
2) You can get really quick, thin crust pizza if you increase the temperature of your oven to the maximum (ours is 550F).
3) We leave our cast-iron pan in the oven while it heats up. It's been very helpful in preventing the sauce from soaking in too much.
4) For a tomato-based sauce, we've found that crushed tomatoes from the can work best. We've tried whole, diced, and from stratch (all blended in our blender) and the consistency of the crushed tomatoes works for us. If you go with crushed tomatoes, look for cans where tomatoes are the only ingredient (or tomatoes and herbs). Otherwise there can be a lot of salt in the sauce. Trader Joe's doesn't use BPA in their cans, so that's also something to think about.
5) Try using less cheese, if you're trying to keep the cost down or keep the pizza healthy. Caramelized onions are my favorite topping.
6) Don't stop trying if your pizza doesn't taste like restaurant pizza. Their brick-oven is a big part of that.

Anyway, after that long preamble:
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3.5 cups whole wheat flour


In a large bowl, dissolve honey in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in three cups of whole wheat flour, one cup at a time until dough starts to come together. When you stir, focus on keeping the mixture in one piece; it'll help develop the strength and elasticity of the dough.
Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about one hour, until doubled.
Preheat the oven as hot as you like= anything 375 or higher will cook the pizza, but we think the hotter the better. Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings.
Bake until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top

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