Damn Near Perfect Whole Wheat Pizza
I’ve been, let’s call it what it is, short my entire life. On my tallest day, coincidentally, the day I got my driver’s license, I was 5’1. So when you find a pair of pants that fits without needing alterations, you buy three pairs in black and never look back. It’s the same thing with pizza dough. When you find a dough recipe that works, you just keep on with it. For me, that’s been the Food Lab’s NY-style pizza dough. But after awhile, you start to need another pair of pants. What I really wanted was a whole wheat crust. So I started tinkering with my tried and true. Tinkering until I got the Food Lab’s NY-style pizza dough to go whole wheat.
Well, half whole wheat.
So big whoop-de-doo, you swapped in whole wheat flour. Oh, no-no-no-no. From past experience, whole wheat doesn’t necessarily work as a 1:1 conversion with every recipe. In almost every application, whole wheat flour always takes more liquid, and I got flatbread instead of pizza, even after a few days rise in the fridge. Half whole wheat pastry flour was next on the list. The bag says its good for cookies, muffins, pancakes and pie dough. Note, it doesn’t say pizza. What did work was 50/50 Bob’s Red Mill’s White Whole Wheat and King Arthur’s Bread Flour.
Ingredients done, now let’s look at the rise. The first pizza was a same day job, with just 2 hours rise on the counter. To keep things simple, it’s just crushed tomatoes, part-skim mozzarella and pepperoni. I was in a hurry and frankly, needed something for dinner. I knew it would be flat, flat, flat in texture and in flavor, so to kick it up a bit, I doused the edge in olive oil and sprinkled it with a mix of poppy, sesame and kosher salt (shout out to Abbot’s Pizza in Venice, where I first had “bagel pizza crust.”)
Using a Baking Steel on broil, in about four minutes, I had gorgeous browning, but this was still flatbread, not pizza and even with seeds, the crust could have used more salt for my tastes. Noted.
The other three balls of dough were doing their thing in the fridge and so I waited.
Day Two, same temperature, same time. A little more bubble formation around the edges, nice browning looking good, but not quite there. This was the pizza I ate two slices of and forgot about the rest on the counter before going to bed. Shame.
Day Three — things are looking good. Overall shape is a little kooky because I had it out on the counter for an hour or two longer than planned, so it was very pliable as I flipped it onto the peel.
Let’s get a look at what pizza people call the cornichone or crown. On the third day, it was just right. I knew I had my winner. By day three, I also needed some green pepper.
So is it worth the work? Totally. And it’s more waiting than work. The more success you have, the more fun the experimenting is. Having gotten to half whole wheat, I’m about ready to try this 100 percent whole wheat I’ve had bookmarked for several months. It’s just the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that’s been holding me back. The only vitamin C we have around here is orange and chewable. But soon.
So help me branch out. What’s your go-to pizza dough recipe?
- 11.5 oz. King Arthur's Bread Flour
- 11.5 oz. Bob's Red Mill's White Whole Wheat flour
- .5 oz granulated sugar
- .5 oz. kosher salt
- .35 oz. instant yeast
- 3 T. olive oil
- 15 oz. lukewarm water
- Seed Mixture
- olive oil for brushing
- 1 T. poppy seeds
- 1 T. sesame seeds
- 1 t. kosher salt
- Combine flours, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix.
- Add the olive oil to the water and with the processor running, pour the liquid into the dry ingredients. Process until the mixture turns into a ball and continue processing for another 15 seconds.
- Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured board or silicon baking mat. Knead once or twice and form into a smooth ball. Divide into four rounds and store each in a quart-sized deli container or zip top bag. In a bag, the dough will begin to fill the size of the bag, twist tie the top of the bag to keep a relatively round shape while giving the dough a little room to rise.
- Place the dough in the refrigerator and allow it to rise for 72 hours. Before baking, allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
- To make a seeded "bagel" crust, once the dough is rolled out and topped on your peel, brush the edges with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with seed mixture.