Monday, May 28, 2012

Favorite Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I've been making pizzas for the family almost every Friday evening for about 2 years now.  I've been using this crust recipe for most of that time and have tweaked it to perfection (imho).  This makes almost 2 pounds of dough and is perfect for 2 large pizzas.

I use a bread machine to do the mixing, so this is the order in which I put the ingredients in. 

1 3/4 cup water
1/2 Tbls sugar (I use sucanat)
1 1/2 Tbls olive oil
5 cups whole wheat flour--only put 4 1/3 c in machine to begin with (I grind hard white wheat berries just before preparing.  Don't use soft wheat berries or pastry dough for this recipe)
1 Tbls yeast
1/2 Tbls sea salt

Add the ingredients in order in the bread machine making sure that the yeast and salt are not combined.  I sprinkle the salt around the edges of the flour and put the yeast in a little "well" in the center of the flour.  I use the whole wheat bread setting for 2 lb.  As the dough is combined, add more flour until the dough forms a ball that doesn't stick to the sides or the bottom.  When the dough stops mixing (mine takes about 15 1/2 minutes), turn off the machine and let the dough rise in it for about 1 hour.  Pull the dough out and dump onto generously floured surface.  Divide into approximately equal halves.  Spray pizza stones.  Roll out dough into circle large enough to cover entire pizza stone.  Let rise.  While the dough is rising on the pan, preheat oven to 450 degrees until fully heated.  I give this lots of time because it really makes a difference in how the pizza cooks if the oven is fully heated, not just when the light goes off.  The other thing I like to do at the same time, that you can do if you have a double oven, is to heat my second oven at 150 degrees for 2-3 minutes and then shut it off with the crusts inside.  This speeds up the rising process.

Once the crusts are risen and the oven is fully warmed, bake each crust for 7 minutes.  Remove the crust from the oven, add desired toppings (or allow to cool and then freeze for later use), then place back in oven for 6-8 minutes depending on the depth of your toppings.  Here is what our pizzas typically consist of:

The girls' pizza: red sauce, mozzarella, 1/2 black olives, one half pineapple and ham.  I cook this for 6 minutes after adding toppings.

My hubby's and my pizza: pesto base, spinach (sometimes), mushrooms, sweet peppers, kalamata olives, black olives, onion, artichokes, sausage (his half), feta, mozzarella, and tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried depending on season).  I cook this for 8 minutes and occasionally extend it another minute.

The last picture was before my hubby bought me a second round stone.  Don't those look delicious?!  My kids are very biased about pizzas because of getting their favorite pizza every week.  :)

One additional tip: If you decide to use lots of toppings like I do, cut up extra ingredients and flash-freeze them for future use.  I have large amounts of mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives, etc already in my freezer to cut down prep time each week.  I even buy the olives in the huge can at the wholesale club already sliced and then freeze them up.  Just make sure you drain them REALLY well, or you will have a soggy pizza later.