Sunday, 28 September 2008

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

If you're looking for a versatile whole wheat pizza crust that is fairly easy to make and actually tastes good, this one just might fit the bill. You can use this same dough to make ciabatta, focaccia, and mini baguettes.

This whole wheat pizza dough utilizes the delayed fermentation method to give the dough the resiliency and extensibility of white flour dough. By using this method, you get a dough that is soft and somewhat sticky but has wonderful stretching qualities.

Tip: This pizza dough is easy to make, but you do have to schedule the process -- from start to finish it takes a couple of days. If you want pizza tomorrow, start the process tonight.

For this recipe, I recommend using a pizza stone if you have one. You can use the back of a baking pan but I think it works better with a pizza stone. If you need one, you can
get it here.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

(makes 5 individual-size pizzas)

The recipe is from Peter Reinhart's
Whole Grain Breads

Preparation Time:
Day 1: Soaker and biga, 20 minutes set up and mix; overnight autolyse

Day 2: 2 hours to de-chill biga; 12 to 15 minutes mixing; 1 hour fermentation (or hold overnight); 5 minutes per pizza, shaping and assembly; 5 to 8 minutes baking

Step 1: Making the Soaker

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour, preferably fine grain
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water


Mix all of the soaker ingredients together in a bowl for about 1 minute, until all of the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. (If it will be more than 24 hours, place the soaker in the refrigerator; it will be good for up to 3 days. Remove it 2 hours before mixing the final dough to take off the chill.)

Step 2: Making the Biga

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons filtered or spring water, at room temperature (about 70°F F/21°F)


Mix all of the biga ingredients together in a bowl to form a ball of dough. Using wet hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 2 minutes to be sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and the flour is fully hydrated.

The dough should feel very tacky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead it again with wet hands for 1 minute. The dough will become smoother but still be tacky.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

About 2 hours before mixing the final dough, remove the biga from the refrigerator to take off the chill. It will have risen slightly but need to not have risen significantly in order to use it in the final dough.

Soaker (on left) after resting on counter and
(on right) after fermenting in refrigerator overnight

Step 3: Making the Final Dough

  • Use all of the soaker
  • Use all of the biga
  • 7 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 5/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 tablespoon honey or sugar or brown sugar (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • extra whole wheat flour for adjustments


Using a metal pastry scraper, chop the soaker and the biga into 12 smaller pieces each (sprinkle some of the extra flour over the pre-doughs to keep the pieces from sticking back to each other).

If you're mixing by hand (like me), combine the soaker and biga pieces in a bowl with the 7 tablespoons flour and the salt, yeast, honey, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir vigorously with a mixing spoon or knead with wet hands for about 2 minutes, until all of the ingredients are evenly integrated and distributed into the dough. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky; if not, add more flour or water as needed.

If you're using a stand mixer, put the pre-dough pieces in the bowl along with the 7 tablespoons flour and the salt, yeast, honey, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Mix with the paddle attachment (preferable) or the dough hook if need be and mix on medium-low speed, occasionally scraping down the bowl, for 2 minutes, until the pre-doughs become cohesive and assimilated into each other. Add more flour or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.

Dust a work surface with flour, then roll the dough in the flour to coat. Knead the dough by hand for 3 to 4 minutes, incorporating only as much extra flour as needed, until the dough is soft and very tacky, verging on sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicon mat, then oil it with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Resume kneading the dough for 1 minute to stregthen the gluten and make any final flour or water adjustments. The dough should have strength, yet still feel soft, supple, and very tacky, verging on sticky.

Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces. (I wanted bigger pizzas so I rolled mine into 3 balls instead of 5) Form each piece into a tight ball, and place the balls on the prepared pan. Roll the balls in the oil to coat the whole surface of each, then cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap.

Tip: If you need to hold the dough for later baking, you can put the pan in a plastic bag and refrigerater it to slow down the fermentation; the dough can stay in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before it must be used.

Otherwise, proceed with the next step.

Preheat the oven as hot as it will go (with a baking stone if you have one; the dough will be ready to shape and bake in 1 hour, which is how long you should preheat a pizza stone). If you do not have a baking stone, use the underside of a sheet pan, or simply place the shaped dough on a sheet pan, assemble the pizza, and bake it on the sheet pan. Although this is the least recommended suggestion, in some cases it may be the most practical.

Shape the pizza dough.

Lightly top with sauce. I decided to par bake my dough a little bit before I put the sauce on it.

Add your favorite toppings. (I'm using a mix of pizza cheeses, pepperoni, onions and green peppers.)

Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should take 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, move the stone to a lower shelf before the next round. If the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, raise the stone for subsequent batches.

Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.

Here are some additional resources for making pizza:

Happy Baking!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Bread Machine Deep Dish Pizza Dough

I've been on a quest to find delicious homemade pizza and I think I may be onto something with this recipe and method of baking. The pizza dough is made in the bread machine. Then, you have the option of baking it in the pan of your choice, depending on how much dough you make. You can bake it in a pizza pan, deep dish pan or even a 13 x 9 baking pan.

I opted to bake a deep dish pizza in my ceramic pizza baker so I used the recipe for the medium-size dough. Baking it in the ceramic baker makes a world of difference. It's so easy and the clean up is minimal.

If you want to simulate a brick oven for baking pizza and other types of crusty breads, I recommend using a ceramic pizza baker or La Cloche. It cooks deep dish pizza and crusty breads fabulously because it provides even cooking.

Here are some additional resources for making pizza:

Bread Machine Pizza Dough

Recipe from: The Bread Machine Book of Helpful Hints by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway.



(for Medium-size Dough)
  • 7/8 to 1 cup Water
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast



Place dough ingredients in bread pan, select Dough setting, and press Start. When the dough has risen long enough, the machine will beep. Turn off bread machine, remove bread pan, and turn dough onto a lightly floured counter top or cutting board. Form dough into a mound and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

For the Medium Recipe (which is the one I used)
Yields: One deep-dish pizza or two 12-inch pizzas

Grease one deep-dish or two 12-inch pizza pans. If using two pans, cut dough in half with a sharp knife. With your hands, gently stretch and press dough to fit evenly into pan(s). Pinch dough around the edges to form a small rim.

Spread your favorite pizza sauce on top of the dough, then add toppings of your choice, except cheese. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Note: I'm using a ceramic baker so I preheated the oven for about 15 minutes. I'll bake the dough for about 15 minutes or so before I add the sauce and other ingredients.

Here is the baked dough after about 15 minutes

Pizza in oven ready to bake

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese the last five minutes of baking. When cheese melts, remove from oven, slice into wedges, and serve hot. (Note: For a lighter, chewier crust, reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F).

Pizza cooling in the pan

Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza ready to eat

This pizza recipe and method of baking is definitely a keeper. Both of my sons said this pizza was the best pizza I've made so far.  

Editor's note: I've made thin and crispy brick oven pizza since this post that my sons and I really enjoy, but if you like deep dish pizza and want something that’s easy to prepare and tastes great, this pizza is a good choice.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Pepperoni Pizza Bread

This Pepperoni Pizza Bread can be served for dinner with a salad, as an afternoon snack, or as an appetizer for a Sunday afternoon football game. Just add some extra sauce on the side for dipping. My youngest son gave this bread the thumbs up so it's definitely a keeper.

Pizza Bread Recipe

The recipe is courtesy of ACH Foods (Fleischmann Yeast). 

Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Proof Time: 60 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes


  • 5 to 6 cups all-purpose OR bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 envelopes quick rising yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups very warm water (120°F - 130°F)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Cooking spray

  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup (3-4) ounces pepperoni
  • 1 cup Italian cheese blend, shredded


Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast in a large mixing bowl. Heat water and olive oil until very warm (120°F - 130°F). Gradually add to flour mixture mixing for 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally.  Add eggs and 1 cup flour; continue mixing for 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough; mix until dough forms a ball and does not stick to sides of bowl, 3 to 5 minutes.

Divide dough in half.  Roll each half to a 12 x 10-inch rectangle.

Spread each rectangle with half of the pizza sauce to within 1/2 inch of edges; sprinkle half of the pepperoni and cheese on each.

Beginning on the long side of rectangle, roll dough tightly, as for jelly roll.

Pinch seam and ends to seal.

Place seam side down on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Cut 3 or 4 diagonal slashes 1/4-inch deep across top surface of dough using a sharp knife. Spray top of dough with cooking spray and cover loosely with foil. Allow to rise in a warm area for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Preheat over to 350°F.

Bake for 30 minutes or to an internal temperature of 190
°F. Remove from baking sheet; cool on wire rack.

The pizza bread sliced and ready to eat. For extra flavor, serve the pizza bread with extra sauce.


Happy Baking!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

How to make Brick Oven Pizza

You'll like this Brick Oven Pizza. The overnight starter gives it an incredibly chewy/crispy crust. It's easy to make and is one of the best tasting homemade pizza's I've had. I didn't really like thin crust pizza until I tried this version. My sons even like it and they're picky about their pizza.

Note: The first step, making the poolish, should be done the night before if you want pizza for lunch the next day. Or, if you want pizza for dinner, make the poolish in the morning and let it sit all day. Just make sure you allow enough time to make the dough.

Brick Oven Pizza
Yield: 2 pizzas

Recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour Company and The Baker's Catalogue.


Poolish (Starter)

  • 1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Pizza Dough Flavor (optional, but delicious)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Tomato sauce, meats and/or vegetables, and cheeses of your choice. I plan to use red and green peppers, onions, a prepared sauce and cheeses.


Making the Poolish:

In a mixing bowl or the pan of your bread machine, stir together the flour; water and yeast. Set aside, covered, to rest overnight or all day. I started my poolish last night so we could have pizza for lunch today.

Poolish after resting on counter all night

Making the Dough:

Add the flour and water to the poolish, mix well, and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Add the remaining dough ingredients, mixing and kneading to form a smooth dough.

Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes; gently fold the edges to the middle, turn it over, and let it rise an additional 45 minutes.

Note: It was a very humid and hot day today so the dough was very gooey. I let the dough rise in the refrigerator the last 45 minutes. Then I was able to work with it.

Risen dough ready to made pizza

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a 9-inch round, place on a piece of parchment cut to fit, cover, and let rest while you heat your oven to 500°F.

This dough is very easy to work with. It spreads very nicely.  You don't even need a rolling pin.

Pizza dough covered resting on counter while oven preheats

Pizza dough ready to bake

After about 30 minutes, use a giant spatula or pizza peel to transfer the pizza to your hot oven stone; or place it on a pan on the lowest rack of your oven.  Bake for 4 minutes, then remove from the oven, and top with your favorite toppings.

Return the pizzas to the lowest rack of the oven (not to the stone), and bake for an additional 8 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbly.

Nutritional Information:
Serving size 1/6 of a pizza, crust only, 50g; 124 cal, 1g fat, 4 g protein, 24g complex carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, 223 mg sodium, 48mg potassium, 2mg iron, 1mg calcium, 33 mg phosphorus.

Additional resources for making pizza:

Happy Baking!