Thursday, August 18, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

I must admit, I’ve been holding out on you a little bit. This has to do with homemade pizza, specifically the crust. Sure, I still make it just about every week, but I’ve manipulated the recipe just a little and bumped up my crust’s Whole Food Quotient (WFQ). Really, it’s as simple as swapping out one of the cups of all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour.

This new and improved crust is just as easy to make (I recommend a heavy-duty mixer with a dough hook), just as crisp and at least as delicious. In fact, I’ve begun to find it even more delicious than the all white flour version, simply because my taste buds have come to expect the flavor of whole grains. I no longer even think about this being a partly whole-grain crust. I just know the pizza is delicious!

I’ve found that a good place to start adding more whole grains to your diet, if you’re into that kind of thing, is to replace some of the refined flour with whole grain flour in a reliable recipe, one that you already know is good. I substitute no more than half of the white flour, and often more like one-third, the first time around. This has worked pretty well for me when adding whole wheat pastry flour to muffins, quick bread loaves and some cakes and a multigrain flour mixture to baguettes as well as whole wheat flour in this pizza crust.

White flour contains more gluten and therefore will help hold your baked goods together. If you go all whole grain, the result can be a crumbly cake or a brick for a bread loaf. Also, the stronger flavors of whole grains might take some getting used to if you’re really in touch with your inner Wonder Bread child. Just take it easy. Don’t overdo it. Ease your way into making it all more whole. Start with something easy, or at least easy to enjoy. And covering your higher WFQ concoction with pepperoni, Italian sausage and lots of cheese (or grilled corn, poblano chiles and cherry tomatoes as I did recently) can only help the transition go a little more smoothly.

(For more on getting more whole grains into your baked goods without sacrificing the least bit of deliciousness, check out Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. If my metabolism could handle the extra load, I’d be baking my way through this whole book!)

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
I use a heavy-duty mixer with a dough hook. You could probably mix and knead this dough by hand, but it would take much longer than your average loaf of bread.

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup warm water (about 100 F, it should feel warm, but not scalding to the touch)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more if necessary
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
cornmeal for dusting the pizza peel

1. Combine the yeast, sugar and water in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy.

2. Add whole wheat flour, about ¾ cup all-purpose flour, olive oil and salt and mix with the dough hook on low speed. When a wet dough forms, add a little more flour. Increase the mixing speed (just one notch) and knead the dough until it is firm and stretchy, about 10 minutes, adding as much of the remaining flour (or more if needed) as you need to keep the dough from being wet and sticky.

3. Grease a medium-sized bowl or spray it with cooking spray. Form the finished dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Spray or grease the top of the dough ball and place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough. Cover the bowl with a towel and place it in the refrigerator. Allow the dough to slowly rise in the refrigerator at least 12 hours. (If you don’t have that kind of time, you could let the dough rise at room temperature at least an hour before using. It will probably be less easy to handle, and have a less complex flavor.)

4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for a few hours, or until it comes up to about room temperature. Punch down the dough and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Stretch or roll the dough into a 10-12-inch (approximately) circle (approximately), and place it on a wooden peel (or a pan) dusted with cornmeal. (If the dough really resists stretching, let it stand, covered for another 5 minutes or so and try again.) Cover the shaped dough with a towel and let stand for 30 minutes.

5. About 20 minutes before you are ready to bake, place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 F. (If you do not have a pizza stone, simply preheat the oven. You will probably bake the pizza on a pan.)

6. To par-bake the crust, carefully slide the unbaked crust from the peel onto the preheated stone. Bake at 450 F for 5-8 minutes, or until the crust begins to puff up and no longer appears doughy. It may even be beginning to brown in places. Remove from the oven and top and bake as desired. You could also allow the par-baked crust to cool completely, wrap it well and freeze it until ready to make pizza.

Makes a crust for 1 10-12 inch pizza.

Other recipes like this one: Pizza Crust Dough (the all white flour version), Naan with Whole Wheat Flour, Sweet Pumpkin Focaccia 

One year ago: Spicy Potato and Tomato Gratin with Caramelized Onions

Two years ago: Cold Cucumber Soup

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