Ever wondered why restaurant whole wheat pizza always tastes better? And why the at-home whole wheat pizza comes out of the oven hard and brittle, stony enough to break off a front tooth? Well, last night I finally figured it out. And let me say, the answer is not more olive oil in the dough. No. It’s the combination of two things…a little bit of white all-purpose flour mixed into the whole wheat flour and more water than you would think makes sense. You would have thought I’d have figured this out by now. I’ve only been making pizza at home for years now but I confess. Every time I made whole wheat pizza using only whole wheat flour it came out hard as a flat brick. I strove for a crisp crust with a chewy center while maintaining a relatively healthful dinner. These pizzas were made palatable with generous toppings of turkey pepperoni, arugula or spinach and the great compromise of 2% reduced fat mozzarella. Finally I just stopped preparing pizza altogether. Months and months went by without it being served at our house. But last night I had a hankering for it and, by gosh, I was going to get it right. It had been such a long time since I had mixed up the dough that I couldn’t remember the recipe I had cobbled together and, boy, was THAT liberating. I felt such freedom not having any rules or even any do’s or don’ts to follow. I had escaped the confines of the culinary box I’d been living in!
I began in the afternoon with a free-flow of ideas and hunches rattling around my brain. Two thoughts remained front and center. 1. White flour is produces a soft and tender product. 2. Enough water will produce a sticky, floppy dough that won’t dry out. After a few tries I believe I nailed it. And the beauty of this dough is it’s so wet and unmanageable it can be mixed in a bowl with a spoon thus eliminating any kneading and messing up of your counter tops. Life’s small blessings. In any case, I sure hope you try this recipe out. Look at it this way, whole wheat flour, turkey pepperoni and greens make for a more healthful pizza which means you can eat it more often!
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cup warm water, tap is fine, no more than 115°
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour, plus additional to flour baking sheet etc.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 hour prior to baking, pre-heat oven to 500°.
- In a large bowl mix all-purpose flour, yeast and warm water. A wooden spoon works best. You’ll a few have some lumps of flour but they’ll work their way out when you mix in the whole wheat flour.
- Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and honey/agave to the mixture and combine well.
- Add 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour and salt and mix well until all the lumps are gone.
- Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm corner and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes or until double in size. Now is a good time to pre-heat your oven.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and gather the dough into a ball while still in the bowl. If you don’t have a bench scraper you can cut in half the plastic top of an oatmeal can then cut off the rim or use a butter knife that’s been covered with a bit of olive oil.
- Cut the dough in half and using the bench scraper or butter knife, push the sides of each ball of dough into rounds. To keep the dough from sticking, dust the rounds and bowl with some whole wheat flour using as little as possible. The wetter the dough, the more chewy the pizza.
- Dust your hands and a baking sheet or pizza paddle with a good handful of cornmeal and quickly transfer one dough round to the center of the baking sheet.
- Gently pat out the round, moving the round on the cornmeal to avoid it sticking to the baking sheet, until you have an 11″ to 12″ pizza. If you prefer a thicker crust make the pizza smaller.
- Top the pizza with the sauce of your choice then add your toppings.
- Bake 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
- Allow to cool 4-5 minutes before slicing.
- Serve immediately.
In our house during the winter months, Friday nights mean one thing. Homemade pizza for my family and lots of brown likker for me. My husband and son are Greek Orthodox and years ago requested that I not serve meat on Friday so they could take communion on Sunday. Okay. I can do that. To honor their request, I began making pizza every Friday night, salsa or classic rock blaring from the kitchen radio. I love the Allman Brothers. The kitchen door’s always open since you have to jack your oven up to at least 450° and it gets some kind of hot down here in South Florida. And on the counter, on a pretty little napkin, will be a faceted, crystal DOF with 6 or 7 ice cubes cracking and popping around two fingers of brown. My, how I love that stuff. Anyway, it’s Friday, so before I begin pouring, and you know I will, let’s talk pie. Pizza dough is quite simple if you allow yourself enough time and space. The dough is versatile. I use several different types of flour from all-purpose to whole wheat to white whole wheat depending on my mood or what I have on hand. If you choose a heavier flour you need to make a few adjustments. First, I never use just whole wheat. The end result is heavier than a door stop. The ratio I use is equal parts, 1-1. The exception is white whole wheat. I’m using it tonight and I’ll use a full 3 cups. I think King Arthur makes an exceptional product and you can find it at all leading grocery stores. I make the dough first since it needs a good 1 1/2 hour rising time so while it’s rising in a warm corner, I can keep on working. I use one of two different kinds of sauce. My red sauce consists of tomato puree, salt and pepper. What I don’t use, I freeze. If I choose fresh tomatoes I add draining time. After they’ve been chopped finely, I drop them into a colander in the sink, sprinkle with just a little bit of salt and go on prepping my toppings. Tonight I’ve decided on chopped plum tomatoes with shredded fresh basil, grated mozzarella, slivered onion and turkey pepperoni. I know. That’s meat. But with the Greek festival coming up Jimmy doesn’t always make it to communion especially if he has a festival meeting on Sunday and he always does. And James is back at school in North Carolina. Go Heels. Back to toppings. I love chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of fresh dill, crumbled feta, chopped Kalamata olives, a little scattered mozzarella, some cooked, drained spinach and a swath of good olive oil. Remember, cut all vegetables a uniform thickness and take comfort in knowing the combination of pizza toppings is infinite. P.S. Mint is outrageous with sautéed mushrooms, roasted garlic and grated fontina. I’m just sayin’.
Pre-heat oven 450°, 500° if it goes that high
- 2 cups tomato puree
- salt and pepper to taste or
- 8-10 ripe plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- fresh basil finely chopped, to taste
- salt and pepper
- 3 cups flour, your combination of all-purpose, whole wheat etc.
- 1 cup water at 115°
- 1 packet yeast or 2 1/4 tsp yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Toppings: any of the following
- fresh mozzarella
- crumbled feta
- grated fontina
- zucchini slices
- fresh tomato slices
- kalamata olives
- sautéed mushrooms
- feta cheese
- kefalotiri cheese
- mizithra cheese
- onion slivers, sautéed
- freshly basil, chopped
- fresh mint, chopped
- fresh dill, chopped
- fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- hot pepper flakes
- the ubiquitous bagged shredded mozzarella
- turkey pepperoni (fabulous. tastes exactly the same as conventional but not greasy)
- turkey sausage, cooked and crumbled
- Combine ingredients for tomato layer and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour with yeast and warmed water and mix well. Add olive oil, mix well and add rest of flour. After mixing in bowl until incorporated, turn on to counter and knead until silky and smooth…5-8 minutes. Coat with a little olive oil, return to bowl, cover and put in warm corner to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- While dough is rising, prepare sauce of choice and cut any vegetable or herbs for toppings.
- When dough has doubled, punch down (yeah. hit it.) and divide into two or more parts. Whatever strikes your fancy and let rest for another 15 minutes.
- Dust baking sheet or pizza paddle with cornmeal and shape the dough by flouring lightly and flattening the dough with your finger tips and the heels of your hands. Shape into disks, stretch and flatten to desired thickness. Don’t worry if the dough tears, just pinch back into shape and keep on going. Shake baking sheet occasionally to keep dough from sticking and add cornmeal as needed.
- Add sauce or tomatoes, toppings and slide into oven.
- Bake 10-15 minutes depending on toppings. Just look at it . You’ll know when it’s ready. Slice and enjoy!