During our early courtship, the Mr., back then the boyfriend, took me to
a neighborhood pizza joint on the upper westside. Out of curiosity I ordered a slice of the whole wheat pizza. My tastebuds wondered what they'd done to deserve such an assault. It was one of the more unpleasant things I've ever eaten.
I've got almost 20 years of pizza making under my apron, and as many of you know, if it's Friday, then it's pizza night at the Perillo's. Like watching your children grow, my recipe has evolved over time. My first forays didn't include a from-scratch crust—I'd just buy dough from the local bakery.
I honestly can't remember when I started making my own dough—it's been that long now. A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to revisit whole wheat pizza—but on my terms, and in my kitchen.
The reward was a light-as-air crust.
Yes, I really did just say that about a whole grain pizza crust.
Dispel any notion you have of a heavy, leaden crust. You won't find it here.
Recently, Farmer Ground Flour introduced an all-purpose blend. Please do not confuse this with white flour—the texture is amazingly lighter and the flavor is much more complex with hints of earthy, nuttiness. It's a blend of hard and soft wheats with a higher bran and germ content. You can try whisking together your own blend of half whole wheat and half white flour for the purposes of the recipe I'm going to give you.
And if you haven't either of those blends on hand, then you can use 100% white flour since I simply used my existing recipe and swapped in the Farmer Ground flour—just keep in mind you won't have bragging rights to the best tasting whole grain pizza crust.
I also decided to up the ante a bit and approach my toppings a little differently. Rather than swirl the sauce on the crust first, I decided to drop a few dollops of homemade ricotta cheese and scattered some slices of fresh mozzarella.
Then came the sauce and a grating of Parmesan cheese. And how excited was I to see some lovely broccoli rabe at this week's farmers' market? Just a few florets to add a whisper of bitter flavor to the creamy cheeses and tangy sauce.
In case your curious, my girls didn't so much as blink when they bit into this pizza. Isabella noticed the crust was different but she loved it nonetheless and asked for seconds. Finally a whole wheat pizza I can enjoy, and at my very own dinner table.
whole grain pizza dough
makes enough dough for two 16-inch pies
If you really want to stay ahead of the game, make the dough the night before and store it, covered, in a lightly greased bowl. Then just take it out 30 minutes before you're ready to shape the pies. Homemade pizza made possible even for busy working parents!
p.s. I've never been a pro at sliding my pizza from the peel to the oven without it ending in tears, I'm sharing my easy work-around tip with you too.
3 cups (12.75 ounces) Farmer Ground all purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 1/4 teaspoons quick rise yeast
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more to coat bowl
1 cup warm water
Add 2 cups (8.5 ounces) of flour, yeast, salt and sugar to a deep bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour in the water and olive oil. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine—dough will be very wet and sticky. Add enough of the remaining flour, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the dough is tacky, but no longer wet. Sprinkle the rest of the flour on a clean counter or board. Dump the dough onto the floured surface and knead in the remaining flour. The dough will be very soft and smooth, but should be not be tacky—add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time if you need to.
Lightly coat a bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover and set aside in a warm area. Let rise until doubled in volume. This will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
Place pizza stone on the center rack of your oven. Preheat to 500ºF. Divide the dough into 2 equal balls. Place a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper on top of a round pizza pan or the back of a baking sheet. On the parchment paper, shape each into a 16-inch round, top as desired. Slide pizza onto the pizza stone ( you can pull the parchment out after the crust sets in about 2 to 3 minutes). Bake for 10 minutes, or crust is golden.
broccoli rabe, ricotta & mozzarella pizza
serves 2 to 4
1 whole grain pizza dough (split recipe above in half)
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh ricotta
1/3 cup San Marzano marinara sauce
1/4 cup broccoli rabe florets
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place pizza stone on the center rack of your oven. Preheat to 500ºF.
Place a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper on top of a round pizza pan or the back of a baking sheet. On the parchment paper, shape the dough into a 16-inch round. Drop dollops of ricotta on top. Scatter the sliced mozzarella. Spoon the sauce over the top, then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the broccoli rabe florets on top.
Slide pizza onto the pizza stone ( you can pull the parchment out after the crust sets in about 2 to 3 minutes). Bake for 10 minutes, or until crust is golden and crisp.