February 11, 2013

Whole Wheat Pizza

I have been making pizza 's at home for quite a while now. But, however hard I try, my pizza always end up having thin & crispy crusts, even if I intend to make otherwise. So, I got into 2 hrs of non-stop googling and research and at the end of it, I got the trick for getting beautiful, thick & chewy crust. It was such a relief when I learnt how to make the crust I 've always craved for, but believe me learning was not as easy as you might think. I had to refer a lot of recipes/blogs/science about making breads/pizza's and so on and so forth.. pheewww!! But, my couple of hours of effort definitely proved to be worthwhile!

Good news is, I am not going to let my readers go through all that trouble that I did, but simply share the recipe & tips to get that 'most-wanted' texture & flavor in a pizza crust! So, get ready for a fantastic fool-proof recipe for thick, chewy & flavorful crusted pizza. 

Pizza base/crust is all about the flour (all purpose / bread), hydration level, amount of yeast, kneading time and resting time. Bread flour seems to have more protein (12.5 - 13.5%) compared to all purpose flour (10 - 12%) which helps bread flour to develop more gluten/elasticity compared to the latter. So, it is always advised to use bread flour for flavorful pizzas. But, that wasn't enough for me! My quest was to find out how to develop the same flavor and texture with all purpose flour. Is it really possible to get that same flavorful crust with all purpose flour too? Read on to find how! 

With all purpose flour, all you have to do is to let the dough rise in an hour so (quicker the better fermentation) with lot of yeast (that 's why I tried letting the yeast multiply while proofing for about 20 mins and then, added it to the flour to form a dough). 

In short, 
If more yeast & less fermentation time, use flour with less gluten (all purpose flour). 
If less yeast & long fermentation, use flour with more gluten (bread flour). 

Both of the cases above will result in soft & flavorful crusts!

Next is all about kneading. Proper kneading helps to warm & stretch gluten strands, thus creating springy & elastic dough. Press your fingers into the center of the dough, grab the front of the dough and pull it over the top of the impression you just made, press down hard with the heel of your palm, give dough ball a quarter turn and repeat. The idea is to keep stretching and compressing the dough. For all purpose flour, it is enough if you knead for about 8 - 10 mins using hands. Knead the dough to form a smooth ball. Coat the entire dough with little olive oil and let it rest. Don't over-knead the dough, as it works against the gluten development.

The dough should be doubled in about 40-45 mins. The resulting dough has to be soft, elastic and easy to work with. You should be able to flatten the dough with just your hands. Bake & enjoy! With all the endless topping combinations available, you can get rid of those store bought pizzas.

Replacing half the quantity of all purpose flour with whole wheat flour not only increases the nutritional value of the pizza, but also gives it a body and makes it easy to handle the dough especially when rolling out!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 1.5 - 2 hrs (includes proofing & fermentation time)
Cook time - 30 - 45 mins
Serves - 2 medium sized pizzas (with 6 - 8 slices each)

Active dry yeast - 1 envelope (1/4 oz)
Water - 1 1/4 cups (+ 1/2 cup or less, as required)
Olive oil - 1 tbsp (+ a tsp or so to coat the bowl)
Honey - 1 tbsp
Dry Ingredients
Whole wheat flour - 1.5 cups
All purpose flour - 2 cups
Salt - 1/2 tsp

Take 1.25 cups of water in a bowl and heat it to approximately 110 degrees F. Water should be little  more than warm to the touch (but not uncomfortably hot). Mix in 1 tbsp of honey to this. To this, add 1 envelope of dry yeast, mix it well and let is sit in the room temperature for about 20 mins.

During this time, yeast feeds on honey and starts to multiply & grow. After 20 mins, you should see a frothy, bubbly liquid  that has almost doubled in size. This proves that the yeast is active & alive. If not, check the expiry on yeast and repeat the same with new yeast. When the yeast is ready & doubled, add a tbsp of olive oil and give it a mix.

In the meanwhile, mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients bowl, and gently pour the yeast mixture into it.

Using a fork, slowly mix both dry & wet ingredients together working from the center. (Add more water if required from the reserved 1/2 cup of water). When the dough starts to come together,  take it out of the bowl and start to knead the dough on the kitchen countertop / any work surface for about 8 mins. Do not over knead, but knead the dough to form a smooth ball.

Place the ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl so that all the sides of the dough gets coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place for the dough to rise. I usually place the bowl inside my oven with the oven lights on. Using a pen, I drew a circle on top of the plastic wrap to check the volume of the dough after it is doubled (refer pic). After an hour or so, a well fermented dough should be risen & doubled in size.

To check if the dough is ready, just poke the dough with couple of your fingers and the indentation mark should stay put. The dough shouldn't bounce back and close the indent mark. Now, punch the dough down so that it deflates a bit. Divide the dough in half. Form two round balls of dough. Cover them with a plastic wrap and let them sit in the room temperature for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F for atleast about 20 mins.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin (I used my hands to roll out the dough). Transfer this to a pizza pan that is already floured with some corn/all purpose flour. Brush little olive oil over the top of the dough concentrating on the edges. Spread the required amount of pizza sauce all over the pizza, layer it with your favorite toppings (I used jalapenos, bell pepper (3 colors), corn, sliced tomatoes).

Cover it with a layer of cheese (I used a mix of mozarella & parmesan). Sprinkle a pinch or two of black pepper powder on top.

Bake it for about 20 mins or until the cheese is all melted and brown.

Enjoy this soft, tasty pizza with your kids! You 'll not be able to believe that you are biting into a whole wheat crust!

Linking it to the event "Know your dairy - Cheese" hosted by Nivedhanam's & Jagruthi 's Cooking Odyssey

1 comment :

  1. wow that is super tasty... looks so professional!!! Thanks for sending this yummy recipe to my event.. Looking for more yummy recipes...

    Ongoing Event - Tried and Tasted - Raks Kitchen
    Ongoing Event - Dish it out - Lentils & Garlic
    Ongoing Event - Know Your Dairy - Cheese
    Ongoing Event - What is with my Cuppa?