Thursday, April 26, 2012

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

If you haven't guessed by now, I really dig pizza.  I've already posted two pizza recipes here (one for a polenta-crusted pizza and one for pizza Margherita).  I've also promised to post my deep dish recipe ... a promise I renew now.  (By the way, by "my" deep dish recipe, I really mean the deep dish recipe from America's Test Kitchen.  But I'll claim it in a heartbeat.)

But today I share with you my more regular, "hey, let's have pizza" pizza recipe.  The recipe takes about 2 hours, start to finish.  Maybe a little more.  But most of the time, you're just waiting for the dough to rise.  If I get home a few minutes after five, I can have dinner ready by 7 or so, just right for our weeknight schedule.

Pizza isn't really difficult, but there are a few tips to get the best possible results:

Mushroom Saute - Always Cook Out the Water in Vegies

  1. Use fresh yeast.  Old yeast won't rise, and your crust will be hard as a rock.
  2. Heat your oven to 425 for a good 45 minutes before you start baking the crust, and put the pizza stone (or your pan) in there from the get-go.  Cooking on a thoroughly preheated surface is key.
  3. Par-bake your crust.  I bake my crust until it's, well, crusty ... and just starting to turn golden.  This way, the crust gets nice and crispy but your toppings don't burn.
  4. Precook your vegies, too.  I love mushrooms on my pizza, so I cook a huge container of them in a few glugs of olive oil and a tablespoon of minced garlic, over medium-high heat, until the mushrooms give off most of their liquid and just start to brown.  If you put raw vegies on your pizza, they'll give off water when they bake and make your pizza soggy.
  5. If you precook your vegies and use pre-cooked meats (or, say, meatless pepperoni), you can put all of your toppings UNDER your cheese.  The cheese then holds the toppings in place and browns nicely.
  6. Use good ingredients.  Real mozzarella.  Freshly cooked (not canned) vegetables.  High-quality sauce.  I used to make my sauce, but have learned that it's not worth the effort ... especially when I can buy cans of Pastorelli's pizza sauce at Target and World Market.  It's better than anything I could possibly make myself.  Dang.  So good.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

1 1/2 c. warm water
1 Tbs. sugar or honey
1 packet (about 2 1/2 tsp.) yeast

1 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 - 3 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. dried herbs (basil and/or oregano)
1 heaping Tbs. minced garlic

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 425 degrees.

Mix sugar/honey in the warm water and add yeast.  Let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast blooms.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix flours, gluten, salt, and dried herbs.  Add the oil, garlic, and yeast/water.   Mix until the dough comes together and becomes fairly elastic (about 5 minutes).

Turn dough into a large bowl coated with olive oil.  Turn dough ball to coat, then cover bowl with plastic wrap and then a towel.  Set in a warm, draft-free spot and allow to rise 1 1/2 hours (until doubled in size).

Punch down and divide into two smaller balls.  Roll out on silpat or lightly floured or oiled counter into a 14-inch round.

Sprinkle a bit of cornmeal onto pizza stone and transfer dough to the stone.  Bake about 12 minutes, watching for the formation of bubbled (break them with the tip of a knife or a fork).  Remove the first crust and repeat with second ball of dough.  While the second crust is baking, top the first:

Generous sauce, veggie pepperoni, sauteed mushrooms, sliced black olives, and mozzarella cheese ... or the toppings of your choice!

Bake the topped pizza another 10 - 15 minutes (until the cheese is melted and starting to brown).  Allow the baked pizza to cool for about 5 minutes before slicing.

By the way, this is great the next day.  Cold.  For breakfast.  Yum.

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