Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Homemade Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust

One of our favorite family meals is homemade pizza.  Usually I just make the crust and put out the sauce, cheese, and toppings and then everyone makes their own pizza, but the other night I was in a bit of a hurry and so I just whipped up two large thick crust pizzas for the whole family to share.  So, here is how we make the basics for pizza in our house.

Crust:

First I make a preferment, which jump-starts the yeast and incorporates it into the dough faster.
Preferment Ingredients: (I make a triple batch, but if you want to make smaller pizzas cut the recipe into a third)
  •  1 1/2 cups of warmed water (or if you are like me and have lots of cheese whey this is a good use for it)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 3 packages of yeast/ 2 Tablespoons loose yeast
Let this mixture sit in a warm place while you are getting the next batch of ingredients ready.





In a large bowl I combine the following:

3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups warmed water (or whey if you have it)
1/2 cup gluten flour
2 cups whole wheat flour (a hard wheat variety)

Add the preferment to the above mixture in the bowl and then mix in as much extra whole wheat flour (1 to 4 more cups will be needed depending on your whole wheat flour) as you can, stirring with a spoon and then kneading in more until the dough no longer is sticky and it bounces back when poked.

WARNING:  Making bread dough is an art more than a science.  The help of a good mixing bowl with a bread hook or a bread machine that kneads dough can get you through this step and still turn out great dough.  The key to making dough in either of these machines is just add enough flour, a few Tablespoons at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the mixing container and then stop adding the flour and let the machine knead the dough a few extra minutes.  The biggest mistake people make when they start making dough is they add too much flour and then the bread/crust gets really hard and does not rise as much.

After kneading, preheat the oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit and then TURN OFF THE OVEN and put in the dough, which has been oiled, returned to the bowl and covered to rise.  


This process always turns out a perfectly risen dough in about an hour.

Making the Pizza:
After an hour, divide the dough in half and press the dough out from the center using your finger tips until you reach your desired size and then roll over the crust pushing down to seal it.

Put on some homemade sauce (this is just some pureed heirloom tomatoes I frozen from our garden that I seasoned and cooked down for an hour on the stove while the crust was rising).


Add your favorite topping and cheese...


Put into an oven that has been heated to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (with pizza stones preheated is the best for a really crispy crust).  Rotate half way through baking and take out when the cheese is browned.




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