Like a big pizza pie ... that's amore!

By Wednesday, October 28, 2009 , , , , ,

Growing up, Friday night was pizza night. My mom would make a half-sheet-pan-sized pizza with lots of veggies and pepperoni. It was the only night that we got to have a juice-glass filled with Coke. A pretty magical evening, as you can imagine. Talking to friends, they too had pizza nights as kids. At the park recently, Chris, Pickle and I met a little girl who was quite the conversationalist; as we pushed Pickle on the swing, she inquired about many things including what we were going to be for Halloween (she was going as a witch or a mermaid) and what we were having for dinner. She told us that, "as she was Italian," her family had pizza night every week and that her favorite was sausage and pepperoni. So, the trend continues (Italian or not!) decades later, which makes me happy.

I've been working on a whole-wheat crust recipe lately; trying to make eating pizza a more healthful endeavour. Using 100% whole-wheat flour has not been working for me; the texture is just not right. So, with Heidi Swanson's white whole-wheat crust recipe in one hand and the Cook's Illustrated classic in the other, I set about making a big batch of dough that would crisp and chew in all the right places, while still containing a good ratio of whole-wheat flour to white. Our potato pizza on Sunday was my first go and I have to say — and I'm not exaggerating* it was the best dough I've made. The exterior was crispy while the interior had a satisfying chew.

This recipe makes two large rectangular pizzas (the goal is to have leftovers); freeze one ball or refrigerate it for pizza later in the week — yes, two pizza nights in one week is okay!

Sarah's whole-wheat pizza dough
makes enough for two, 11x14-inch pizzas or four, 12-inch round pizzas

2 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour — I used King Arthur
2 cups white bread flour — again, King Arthur
1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 3/4 cup room temperature water
1/4 cup olive oil and more for oiling the bowl

In the bowl of a food processor, add both flours, salt and yeast; pulse to combine (the bowl will be really full). Measure the water and oil in the same cup and with the machine running, pour the liquids into the dry ingredients. Once the dough creates a cohesive ball, let the machine run for 30 seconds.

Remove to a floured board or counter and knead with your hands for 5 minutes (a good upper-body workout). The ball should be smooth and supple. Cut into two equal piece. Place one in a Ziploc bag and the other in an oiled bowl. Place the bagged dough in the fridge or freezer for later use. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 2-3 hours, until double in volume.

When you are ready to assemble the pizza, slowly stretch the dough by hand, letting it rest if it is not yielding. Once it is the size you need, place on a cornmeal dusted pan and adorn with your choice of sauce and toppings. Bake on the bottom rack of a 450-degree, preheated oven for roughly 15 minutes.

Happy eating, -s.

*I am a known and admitted over-exaggerator, coming from a long line of overreactors, hypochondriacs and drama-queens. If it happened once or twice, to me it's happened a million times. If you have a cough, you are dying and should rush to the doctor. If I love something or someone, it L-O-V-E, love, so watch out! But, that just means I'm passionate about everything that matters. :)

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