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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Whole Wheat Thin Crust Pizza with White Sauce

For a long time, I couldn't stand the taste of store bought whole wheat breads. They seemed dense, dry, and bland, almost cardboard like. However, I am finding that my taste has matured and changed for the better, especially after eating home made whole wheat breads. And of course, eating whole grains is much better for health than all purpose flour.

Whole wheat breads are denser in texture than their counterpart white breads. This is mainly because all purpose flour which is used to make white breads, doesn't contain the germ and bran parts of the wheat grain. The bran in the flour hampers the creation of gluten (wheat protein) strands which is needed to create the fluffy bread texture. While I have made several breads with whole wheat flour, I hadn't tried a whole wheat recipe to make pizza before. When I came across a whole wheat thin crust pizza from America's Test Kitchen, I had to try it out. The recipe called for whole wheat flour and the bread flour to boost up the gluten content. Due to the mix of the flours, we are able to have a great texture and chew.

I made a few modifications, used the cheeses that I had on hand and a variety of toppings and the end result was fabulous.



Ingredients
For the pizza base
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
2 tsp honey
3/4 tsp rapid rising instant yeast
1.5 cups cold water
2 tbsp
1 and 3/4 tsp salt
all purpose flour/bread flour to flour your working surface

For the pizza base sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic gloved, finely chopped
1/2 tsp black peppercorns (whole or ground) (this will add heat to the sauce, so you can adjust quantity to taste)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp red chilli  flakes (optional) (this will add heat to the sauce, so you can adjust quantity to taste)
1/8 tsp salt
10 basil leaves (optional)
2 cups shredded mozarella cheese
2 cups shredded mixed cheese (cheddar, mozarella)

Toppings used here
broccoli
artichokes in brine solution
olives
onion, sliced
tomato, diced
mushroom, sliced

Additional topping suggestions
green bell pepper
colorful (red/yellow/orange) sweet bell peppers
spinach (add this after the pizza is baked)
pineapple
jalapeno slices



Method

To make the dough
Mix together the whole wheat flour, yeast, honey. Add the water and combine till there is no dry flour and keep the dough aside for 10 minutes. Keep it covered. Add the salt and oil and knead the ingredients together, till the dough comes together and is smooth. If you have a food processor or a stand mixer, you should use it to knead the dough. It will take less than a minute for the first step and 3-4 minutes for the second step. If not using a mixer, it will take about 10 minutes of kneading to get a smooth dough. Even if you use the food processor, knead the dough by hand for about a minute and shape it into a smooth ball.
Then put it in an oiled bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Put it in the fridge for at least 18 hour up to 48 hours.

Pizza sauce
Heat the extra virgin olive oil and to it add the garlic, peppercorns, oregano, red chilli flakes (if using). Let the garlic get lightly browned (takes less than a minute). Take the oil off the heat and add the salt. Let this cool.

Pizza assembly
One hour before you start to put your pizza together, place a pizza stone on the top rack of your oven (4-6 inches from the broiler heating element) and pre-heat the oven to 500F and let the pizza stone heat for the entire hour.

At the same time, get your pizza dough our of the fridge, divide it into 2 parts and roll them into balls. Place them apart from each other (leaving space for the dough to expand) on an oiled flat pan or baking dish or separate plates. Cover with plastic wrap and let it stand for an hour

Dust your rolling surface liberally with flour. Take one of the dough balls and roll it flour to cover it and then using your fingertips and palm, flatten it and into a 12 inch pizza round. Dust the pizza peel that you will use to place the pizza base into the oven and transfer the pizza base. to your pizza peel. Flatten it further into about a 13 inch round.

Switch the oven to broiler, high setting for 10 minutes while you spread the toppings on the pizza.

Now, spread half of the flavored oil that you made above onto the pizza. Leave a small border around the pizza, about 1/4 inch. Place the basil leaves onto the base of the pizza (if using) and then layer 1 cup of each cheese onto the base. The add the toppings. I have listed the toppings that I used and also other suggestion. You can use any combination that you want.



Switch the oven back to bake at 500F. Slide the pizza very carefully onto the pizza stone. Bake till the crust is browned and cheese melts and is bubbly. It takes about 10-12 minutes for this to occur. The time may vary based on your own oven, so check on the pizza and keep an eye on it after 8 minutes.
Rotate the pizza halfway through the baking process, at around the 5 minute mark.

Remove your pizza and let it cool a little before cutting it. Place it on a wire rack.

Then return your oven to broil and using the same process work with the second piece of dough and add the toppings. Turn the pizza back to bake at 500 and then place the second pizza into the oven.

Serve hot.

Tips
Make the dough the previous evening, when you want to make it for dinner (about 24 hours). You can use whole or you can grind these to make a fine powder and use pepper powder instead. It will add heat to the sauce, so adjust the amount of pepper you want to use, based on taste. I used whole peppercorns and then picked them out of the oil before spreading the oil onto the pizza surface.
You can use a mixture of mozarella, parmesan and cheddar cheese on the base. If you are choosing more than one cheese, mix a little together at first and taste it and check if you like the combination.
Heating the stone at 500F for an hour creates a kiln effect and ensures that the pizza gets cooked properly and there are no uncooked spots under the toppings. This helps create a nice crispy crust.
Place the pizza on a wire rack, so that the steam doesn't pool under the pizza crust and make it soggy.




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