Friday, April 2, 2010

Pizza Fridays

I crave food traditions. You know -- we always eat pot roast on Sunday, or tacos on Tuesday, or leftovers on Saturday. Waffles on Sunday. You get the idea.

We didn't have any in my house growing up. I'd like Luke to have that.

But there are issues. First, I love to try new recipes and dishes.  I have trouble committing to any recipe ever. But the bigger problem is that we only have dinner as a family of three on the weekend, and often then we have plans. So it's me and the little dude most nights. And as anyone who watches a toddler can tell you, it's hard to stay fast to plans when you're watching them solo.

But lately, my husband has had Fridays off. And so, "Pizza Fridays" was born.

Why pizza? Well, duh, it's cheese, it's dough, it's delish. I've been day-dreaming about making my own since I opened the fan-flipping-tastic Kitchen Aid stand mixer Santa brought me for Christmas. And with my desire to eat more whole grains, I've been scouting out recipes and advice for baking with whole wheat flours. Including pizza dough.

But it wasn't until I found this blog post that I felt like I knew what might turn the dense, heavy dough I'd been making into something that didn't taste like health food. That's where I learned about vital wheat gluten, which makes whole wheat flour less, well, dense and heavy. How, I don't know. I'm no molecular biologist. But it does seem to work.

After a few weeks of attempts -- including one in which my friend Aimee willingly scarfed down a totally cardboard-y pie with me, sorry Aimee -- I've fine-tuned to get to something I'm pretty happy with.

The base recipe is from that blog, (BTW, that's a very cool food blog written by the kind of girl I always wish would be my friend but who would probably be too cool for me in real life.) Anyway, here's what you're working with.

1 cup of water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
1 packet of instant yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil

I use white whole wheat flour. It's less wheaty. But still somehow a "whole" grain. Don't ask me how these things work.

This time around, my other cup was actually white cake flour, which is finer than regular all-purpose. I would try all-purpose first.

A few things to note: pizza dough recipes tend to call for "barely warm" to "warm" water. I've had better results when going with standard warm, almost hot water. "Barely warm" doesn't cut it for me. I also like to run hot water over my mixing bowl for a minute or two to get that warm, too.

Add the water to the warmed bowl. Mix in the honey and olive oil. Then add the package of yeast. I let it sit about 10 minutes. I first did a minute or two thinking that was enough. No dice!

Sift together the flours and gluten in another bowl. Once the yeast is foamy, start adding the flour mixture to the bowl about one cup at a time. Stir on a low speed, using the hook attachment if you're using a KitchenAid, until it is wet. Then add more. Don't add too much at once! Keep adding slowly. You shouldn't need all of the flour mixture. You want it to come together but still be sticky and wet. Mixing should take a few minutes. You want to work it a bit.

With floured hands, transfer the dough to an oiled bowl.

To help it rise, I place the bowl on a wire rack over a pan of hot water.  See?

It hasn't been warm out yet while I've baked, so this has helped but the atmosphere nice and humid.

I also cover it with a slightly damp (with warm water) dish towel. Whether you wet it or not, you want to cover it. And then let it rest for an hour.

Meanwhile, take photos of the nearest cutie who is pestering you as you cook.

Luke wants pizza in his belly!

 After an hour, it should have doubled in size. Check it out. If it has, get ready for some fun, because you now get to punch that sucker down. Poooph! Good times.

Here's what it looks like after it doubles.

Once you've punched, let it sit for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your oven as hot as you can. Well, OK, maybe not that hot. Going up to 500 frightens me. But I did do 450 I think.

If you have a pizza stone, congratulate yourself. I do not. I need to get one. I've been going back and forth trying to figure out what is better -- to pre-bake my crust or not. This week I opted not to. I think next time, I'll pre-bake again. I just don't like a floppy crust. Perhaps it's personal preference. My husband liked it fine this way.

So anyway, where were we? Ah yes. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface. Stretch it out into a circle. I used a rolling pin, but I'm not sure that's the best thing for the dough.

Place it on your pan, and if you're going to pre-bake, I'd do five or six minutes. If not, just load it up with pizza sauce (I use the kind of Trader Joe's and add extra spices to it). Then cover with your cheese and toppings of choice. We did half plain mozzerella and the other half with cheese, green peppers and mushrooms.

Bake 12-15 minutes total.

Then congratulate yourself for being so amazing.

Mmmm.... Pizza Fridays. I like you.

1 comment:

  1. yummers!

    i've tried using whole wheat pastry flour- it's very fine in texture and makes the dough lighter. they sell it in the bulk area at whole foods.


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