Mmmmm… Pizza!

August 7, 2006 on 9:06 am | By | In Eat to Train, Recipes | Comments Off on Mmmmm… Pizza!

My darling and I LOVE pizza (who doesn’t, really?). However, now that we’ve committed ourselves to a healthier lifestyle, we were concerned that we’d have to greatly curtail our cravings. But the more I thought about it, pizza basically is an entree with meat, veggies and a side of bread in one convenient package. As long as you’re judicious with the toppings — focusing on fresh, flavorful, lean ingredients — who says pizza can’t be healthy?

Before I found the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for 75-minute pizza dough (which speeds up the rising time by placing the dough in a warm oven), we’d head to Trader Joes for their whole wheat pizza dough (we’ve been trying to incorporate more whole grains into our diet). I love their dough, but I was determined to come up with my own recipe.

Once I settled on a technique that could produce pizza crust for a weeknight dinner, I then set about figuring how to make a whole grain crust that didn’t taste like cardboard. I once more turned to Cook’s Illustrated, or more accurately, their “Baking Illustrated” cook book. Although they do have a version of whole wheat pizza dough, they mix it with all-purpose flour to help with rising. I really was set on making it whole grain.

I then turned to Shirley Corriher’s “Cookwise” to find out more about why whole wheat flour doesn’t rise as readily. Turns out it’s a matter of gluten (really the lack thereof). But by adding vital wheat gluten (typically available in health food stores), will help increase gluten formation and lighten the crust. I also decided to mix white whole wheat flour with regular as the former contains more gluten-forming proteins (plus it has a less assertive taste). I then added some oat bran (you can also use wheat bran) and flax meal for added fiber and Omega 3.

I’ve found this crust is best if rolled out quite thin (it’s more of a cracker-like crust than chewy). It does have a much stronger flavor than regular dough, so your toppings should be more assertive (it wouldn’t be the best dough for a Pizza Margherita, for example).

Here’s what we enjoyed Saturday night in preparation for my mini-triathlon training the next day. I made a sauce by processing a can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes in the food processor, then letting it sit in a strainer so that most of the liquid drained out. I then mixed in some fresh garlic and basil. The toppings included some sliced chipotle chicken meatballs from Costco, along with some sauteed tri-color peppers and feta and Parmesan cheeses. We paired this with a wheatberry salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, feta cheese, sherry vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. Great carbo loading!


Whole Grain Pizza Dough
(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s 75-minute pizza dough recipe)

1 3/4 cups water, warm (about 105 degrees)
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
11 ounces white whole wheat flour
7 1/4 ounces whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

Set oven to 200 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn oven off. Meanwhile, in bowl of food processor fitted with either metal or plastic blade, add water and sprinkle in yeast and sugar. Pulse twice to dissolve yeast. Add all remaining ingredients and process until mixture forms cohesive mass. Dough should not be sticky (if it is, add 2 more tablespoons flour and pulse briefly) nor should it be dry and crumbly (if it is, add 1 more tablespoons water and pulse briefly). Remove dough from food processor and knead by hand on floured work surface for 1 minute or until dough is smooth and satiny (dough will feel a bit tough at this point). Very lightly oil large bowl with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Place dough in bowl (do not coat dough with oil) and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 40-60 minutes minutes or until doubled. Remove from oven, punch down, remove from bowl and separate into two round pieces (for a 14-16″ pizza, or into four rounds for an 8-10″ pizza). Let rest for 10 minutes under damp dish towel.

If using a pizza stone, place at the bottom of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Flatten a bit, dust the top with flour and roll out to desired size (it should be about 1/4″ thin). Dust a pizza peel with semolina flour and transfer pizza round to peel. Top as desired. Transfer pizza to pizza stone or place on a baking sheet on the lowest rack. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until pizza is hot and bubbly and crust is crisp.

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