Monday, May 18, 2009

EASY Thin Crust Whole Wheat Pizza....At Home

MrMartha loves Pizza....well, MrMartha loves GOOD Pizza. The cardboard crust frozen varieties, and assembly line delivery products, are NOT good Pizza in MrMartha's book.

You can have your own, really good, Homemade Pizza -- in not too much more time than it takes to order, pick up, and bake from your local 'take and bake' shop -- and it's so much better! Just keep a few rules in mind, be as creative as you like with toppings and flourishes, and you will always have a wonderful and satisfying treat!

The simple crust recipe is incredibly easy if you have a food processor, and not much more difficult if you don't.

The basic steps: Prepare the dough, allow it to rise while you assemble the toppings, form the dough into crusts, add toppings as desired, bake quickly in a very hot oven, and enjoy! The process is even faster if you have premade the dough, and have it at the ready in the refrigerator or freezer.

Read More for full recipe, step by step photos, and additional tips. It really is easy as pie....Pizza Pie!

Whole Wheat Thin Crust Pizza Dough

Yield: 2 large round, or approximately 6 smaller free form Pizzas.
The dough can be divided and frozen for up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

2 Cups Bread Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Vegetable or Olive Oil
1 Cup warm (110 degrees) water
2 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
Pinch of sugar

Fill a liquid measuring cup with hot water for a minute to warm the cup, and empty it.

Place 1 cup warm water into the prewarmed measure, add the yeast and pinch of sugar, stir.
Allow to sit for a minute or two till the yeast dissolves and starts to bloom (gets opaque and foamy).

Place the flours, salt, and oil into the work bowl of a Food Processor.

With the processor blade running, add the liquid yeast mixture, process for about 1 minute till the dough forms an elastic ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft but have body. Add a bit more flour if it seems sticky, or liquid if dry.

Place the dough into a clean oiled bowl, flip the dough ball over to bring the oiled surface to the top. Cover with clean towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise, 30-40 minutes till doubled in bulk, and a finger impression pressed into the dough remains indented without resistance.

Make ahead -- Prepare the dough the night before, once in the oiled bowl and covered with plastic wrap, allow to rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the fridge a bit before final prep to take the chill off and return to room temperature.

Punch down the risen dough, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Grease well with vegetable shortening: round pizza pans (for large pizza) or flat baking sheets (for smaller free form pies).

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, and make sure one of the racks is at the lowest level.

Divide the dough into desired portions, and press out with fingertips until uniform thickness -- approx 1/8 to 1/4". (After making your own pizza a couple of times, you will discover what your personal preference is regarding crust thickness.)

Spread the crusts lightly with Pesto or your preferred sauce (see Tips) -- 1 to 2 tablespoons for smaller pizzas, a bit more for larger. Don't use too much sauce.

Sprinkle lightly with grated cheese -- all Mozzarella, or a blend. The cheese should be evenly distributed over the crust, but you should still see some sauce on the crust.

Add toppings of your choice -- chopped artichoke hearts, pepperoni slices, thinly sliced or chopped onion, quartered olives, thinly sliced fresh tomatoes, and/or thinly sliced bell peppers or mushroom. Whole or chopped fresh basil leaves are a nice summertime addition. Sprinkle the top lightly with parmesan cheese if desired, and italian herbs, or an herb/sea salt blend, like Tuscan Sun from Whole Foods.

Note: Do not overload the crust with toppings, choose two or three, at most, for each pie. If you are making several small pizzas, you can vary the toppings on each.

Place into the very hot preheated oven, and bake until the crust edges are browned, and cheese is melted and bubbly -- approx 10-15 minutes depending on your oven and how brown and crisp you prefer your crust and toppings. Watch carefully when baking at high temperatures -- lift the edge of the crust with a spatula to check, and if browning too quickly on the underside, move to a higher oven rack. If baking more than one sheet at a time, rotate baking sheet positions in the oven after about 5-7 minutes.

For crispiest crust, use a long wide spatula and slide the small pizzas from the baking sheet when just about done, directly on to the oven rack, and bake for another couple of minutes.

Yeast: If you bake much at all, it is better and more economical to buy yeast in larger glass jars, and measure it yourself. Most envelopes of Active Dry Yeast contain 2 1/4 teaspoons, so you can substitute one scant envelope of yeast in this recipe (check your yeast envelope to confirm).

Flour: For the white flour, MrMartha likes to use higher gluten Bread Flour (now available at most Grocery Stores), but All Purpose is just fine. You can also omit the Whole Wheat and use only White Flour -- Bread or All Purpose -- instead.

Quantity: If you want to make less dough, cut the recipe in half -- EXCEPT use the full amount of yeast. MrMartha prefers to make the full batch and freeze any extra.

Sauce: Use Prepared or Homemade Pesto, or a jarred red pasta sauce like Classico. You could also use a prepared Alfredo sauce with additional chopped sauteed garlic if you prefer a white garlic sauce. DO NOT USE TOO MUCH SAUCE....just a very light coating -- the crust should not be swimming in sauce.

Cheese: You can grate your own Mozzarella, but Mr Martha prefers to use a purchased pre-grated Pizza Blend cheese mixture. Fresh Mozzarella is also a wonderful treat, but watch the baking extra carefully as it burns more easily.

Toppings: Use your creativity and your own personal taste....the key is to keep your combinations simple, and not to overload the crust with Toppings.

No Food Processor? Stir the crust ingredients together with a wooden spoon until well incorporated, turn out onto a floured surface, and knead by hand until the dough becomes smooth and elastic (approx 3-5 minutes).