|Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough|
Apr 7th, 2006
Okay, I'm back and it looks like I promised whole wheat pizza crust and scallops. Hmmm... that might make for an odd combination. I guess I'll save the scallops for another post as I most assuredly did not eat them together. But I bet someone somewhere could come up with a scallop pizza on whole wheat crust and make it tasty. Nothing that out-there was going on at my house though, after all I was cooking just for me and the kids. Hah, on second thought it might almost be worth it - I can just imagine their faces if I served them scallop pizza. You never know what I might do if they start depriving me of my sleep again.
I picked up a copy of James McNair's Pizza at a thrift store last week (for a dollar!) and decided that the kids and I would try out one of his dough recipes. Our house recipe for pizza dough is usually this one by Good Food's Evan Kleiman. I highly recommend it as it's tasty, easy, and makes enough that you could freeze half of the dough for another night. (Not that we ever have of course, we just eat it all and then feel ashamed.) But I've been wanting to try a whole wheat crust and McNair had a whole wheat variation listed so that's the one I made. We didn't do anything fancy with the toppings though - Canadian bacon for the boys; yellow pepper rings, basil, and a dusting of Parmigianno cheese for me.
The verdict on this one was mixed. The kids didn't like the whole wheat crust, they still much prefer the Evan Kleiman version. However, I made one pizza for them and one for me and kind of goofed on their pie. I was baking on a pizza stone and the book said to preheat the stone in the oven for an hour. So I dutifully turned on the oven while the dough was rising, but forgot that I had taken the stone out. Doh! So when I got ready to bake the pizzas, the oven was nice and hot, and the pizza stone was cool, serene, and far from the oven. It was too late to wait another hour, so I just popped it in there and hoped for the best. The kids' pizza went first and it ended up with a less than crispy crust. My pizza was baked later on a presumably warmer stone and I liked the crust on my pie quite a bit. I used whole wheat flour milled from white wheat rather than red, and it's a bit milder than your traditional whole wheat taste, quite nice. So I'm happy with the recipe as-is but I'll try again to create a kid-friendly whole wheat crust. Next time I'll increase the ratio of all purpose flour and actually preheat the danged pizza stone.
It's worth taking a peek at James McNair's book, it has a lot of interesting pizza recipes, and he goes into quite a lot of detail about the whole pizza dough and baking process. I think both home-baked pizza afficionados and neophytes could get something from the book. I found it very helpful, even if I did screw it up!
Whole-Wheat Pizza DoughMakes two 12" pizzas1 tbsp sugar or honey
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour (I used King Arthur's White Whole Wheat)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Proof the yeast with the sugar or honey and warm water. Stir to dissolve the yeast and then let it sit for about five minutes. It should develop a lovely brownish scum on the top of the water.
Combine the flours and salt in a big mixing bowl and reserve 1/4 cup of the flour mixture. Make a well in the middle and add the oil. Stir the oil and flour together until you have a nice soft dough.
Use the 1/4 cup remaining flour to flour your kneading surface as you knead the dough for about five minutes, gradually incorporating all of the flour. Once the extra flour is incorporated you should be able to knead for another ten minutes or so with no flour coating. Quit when the dough is satiny and elastic. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot to rise.
After an hour or so the dough should have doubled. Punch it down, divide in half, and roll or stretch each half into a pizza shape. Top with your favorite toppings, and ideally bake on a pizza stone that's been preheating in a 500° oven for an hour.
-adapted from James McNair