a whole grain pizza to swoon over

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.

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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.

Comments

  • Elizabeth: I’ve got a decent whole wheat dough I use, but I’d like to give yours a try. If I want to make it the night before, do I need to let it rise before popping it in the fridge? Or could I just put in an oiled bowl straight into the fridge?
    Thanks for the help and another GREAT recipe!

  • Jennifer Perillo: Hi Elizabeth,
    If you make the night before and store it in the fridge, the rise will actually happen during that sitting time, so no need to proof it beforehand. Enjoy!
    Cheers,
    Jennifer

  • Heather: This looks wonderful. I’m definitely going to give it a try. I always use the same “trick” you do to get the pizza in the oven … never had luck sliding the pizza in without disaster.

  • Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother: A friend of mine showed me the parchment trick a while back. I just tried it for the first time a week or so ago. Wow, what a difference.
    I left it in the whole time, and the crust came out fine. You do have to be careful sliding the peel under it though, as the edges crumble pretty easily.

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction: Looks great! I have to try that flour. I often use the King Arthur Flour 100% White Whole Wheat flour, which I like. But, I’m always happy to try new things! Your pizza looks wonderful.

  • Jan (Family Bites): Oh, I love the sounds of the flour. I’m not sure I can purchase it here in Canada, but what a great product. The pizza really looks delicious.

  • tasteofbeirut: Around here we would swoon at such a pizza!

  • Jennifer: Sounds delicious! Where do you buy the flour? I’m in Manhattan and wondering if I can find it (or something comparable) here. Thanks!

  • radish: this looks awesome – but i have 2 questions: 1. Where can i get farmer ground AP flour?
    2. Where would i get quick rise yeast? could i use the one from a packet thingie?

  • Jennie: Hey Olga, you can get the Farmer Ground flour at the USQ and Grand Army Plaza greenmarkets. And for quick rise yeast, yes, those packets work. I use Red Star yeast I buy in bulk.

  • Talia: I’ve recently converted to the idea of partial blends of wheat with white flour in bread (Lahey’s wheat bread uses 25% wheat flour and comes out delicious) so I can totally imagine what a great idea this would be for pizza dough too. I haven’t made pizza in months but I’ll have to do it again soon and try this version!

  • Not much: […] a good whole wheat version. I’ve tried several and haven’t been knocked out yet.  But, this one looks promising and I’m going to try it soon.  I’ll report […]

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