Tuesday, August 30, 2011

100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I wish I had taken a picture that didn't look so greasy! I swear I only used 3 oz of organic mozzarella on a 14" pizza, but there was turkey pepperoni too!

Like many other things in life, pizza crust is something many people seem to really be passionate about as far as the type they prefer. I'm not a huge fan of the thick, bread-like pizza crusts--I like a thinner, crispier crust, but still chewy on the inside. It's probably no surprise I also like to make my crust with 100% whole wheat flour. I use only the basic ingredients you will find in most traditional Italian brick oven-style crusts--flour, water, yeast and salt. No sugar, no oil. You might find the flavor a bit basic as well if you are used to crusts made with white flour, sugar/honey and oil/lard, so rely on high quality, flavorful toppings to really make it pop. If you do make this with a non-whole wheat flour, use the same proportions of flour, yeast and salt, but you may need to cut back on the water a bit.

I wrote this recipe with convenience in mind--it makes more than one crust (the exact number depending on the size you want them), one to use the day I make it and one or two to freeze for a quick meal another day. And like my 100% whole wheat buns recipe, you can choose to let the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight or even up to two or three days and work with it when you need it (I actually found the crust a bit tastier when I used dough that had risen in the fridge for a couple days). If you want to get even more convenience-minded and have the room in your freezer, make a couple batches up through the point of pre-baking, wrap well and freeze.

For me, this will make two 12"-15" crusts or three 9"-12" crusts, depending on how thick/thin I make them. If I feel like a cracker-thin super crispy crust, I will divide it into three parts and make them about 10", if I am doing our usual 14" crust that's crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, somewhere between cracker-thin and original/hand-tossed, I will divide it into two parts. You could also make three or four personal-sized pizzas with a bit thicker crusts or even more with thinner crusts. You are probably tiring of me telling you to experiment/play around with recipes, but this is another basic recipe that has many options for you depending on your needs/likes.

100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp active dry yeast (about 1/2 of a .25 oz pkg)
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt

Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt and make a well in the middle. Add water, sprinkle in yeast and mix until dough is smooth and comes together in a ball. It's okay if it's a little tacky, you want a well-hydrated dough.

Step 2A: Cover bowl and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


Step 2B: Cover bowl and let dough rise in refrigerator overnight or up to 2 or 3 days.

Step 3: Punch dough down well and form into 2-3 smooth, tight balls. If you are going to freeze some, wrap it well (I use plastic wrap and then place it in a heavy duty freezer bag) and freeze at this point. Dust remaining ball/s very lightly with flour on the outside, cover with damp towel, plastic wrap, etc. and let rest for one hour. If it's going to be longer than an hour before you will cook the crust/pizza, let it rest in the fridge and then let it come to room temp before rolling it out.

Step 4: Punch dough down well and roll, press or pull ball/s into desired shape, using flour where necessary to prevent sticking. Poke holes in crust with a fork. Depending on how thin you get it and what you cook it on, you may wish to bake it before adding sauce and toppings. A preheated pizza stone will probably not require pre-baking, but I always do if I am using a baking sheet or pizza pan. I pre-bake it at 450 degrees for about 5-7 minutes. I also bake my topped crust at the same temperature.

To use frozen dough: Remove dough from plastic wrap and cover lightly with flour. Let thaw and rest under plastic wrap, a damp towel, etc. for about two to three hours. You can also thaw it slower in the fridge, letting it come to room temp before rolling out whichever thawing method you use.

This was after pre-baking. It's about 14", and I made the outer rim a bit thicker than the inside.


Whole wheat flour (organic): $2.84/2 lb bag, used 4/7 = $1.62
Yeast: $1.39/3 pk, used one = $.46

Total Cost: $2.08
Two Crusts: $1.04 per crust 
Three Crusts: $.69 per crust
Four Crusts: $.52 per crust

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