One of the first posts I made on this blog was for pizza dough, which is appropriate because I love pizza more than just about any food. I’ve been using a different crust than that of my original post lately, though, although it’s still one from my bread-baking hero Peter Reinhart (who is teaching a class I’m attending next week and I’m very excited!), so when I made a new batch this week, I thought I’d write it up for the ole blog.
This recipe is from Peter’s pizza book, American Pie, which, like all of his books, is amazing and I urge you to buy it if you are anywhere near as obsessed with pizza as I am. One of the reasons I wanted to make this post, though, is this is the only one of Peter’s books I have that does not list weights for all ingredients, and I only bake by weight, so I wanted to finally permanently convert it to weight measurements and write it down. It’s the New York-style crust from that book, although instead of bread flour, I use white whole wheat. Which means I’m eating healthy when I eat an entire pizza every weekend, right?
Because I really want you to buy Peter’s books and because I have a lot of respect for him (and most cookbook authors), I am reluctant to post his recipes, but since it is available here, I’ve decided it’s okay in this case. I’ve tried most of the doughs in this book and they are all good, but this one is probably my favorite because he says it’s the crust you find all college towns across the US, and who doesn’t think pizza never tasted better than it did at 3 am in college? Well, I’m convinced that my pizza does actually beat that of Pizza Palace (my local pizza joint during college) and you don’t need 13 beers to think so.
Whole Wheat New York-style Pizza Dough
Okay, I confess. Another reason I’m making this post is to show off the might of my mixer, Hieronymous. Hieronymous is a Bosch Universal Mixer (and by the way, if this post convinces you you need one, Pleasant Hill Grain, to whom I’ve linked, are terrific people to buy from). After destroying two Kitchen Aid mixers within the course of a single year by overworking them, I made Mark give me Hieronymous for Christmas a couple of years ago. I like to make a triple – yes, triple – batch of pizza dough at a time, which means I only have to make it every couple of months. I’m including the tripled weights for my own reference. Don’t try making that amount in a Kitchen Aid, unless you are looking for an excuse to buy a Bosch. I’ve included the volume and weight measurements for a single batch, but please do yourself a favor and buy a scale if you have any interest in bread baking.
|Single Batch, Volume||Single Batch, Weight||Triple Batch, Weight||Ingredient|
|5 1/2 cups||22.5 oz||60 oz||white whole wheat flour (or bread flour)|
|2 tsp||.5 oz||1.5 oz||salt|
|1 1/2 tsp||.2 oz||.6 oz||yeast*|
|3 Tbsp||.8 oz||2.5 oz||olive oil|
|1 1/2 Tbsp||.7 oz||2 oz||sugar or honey (read: agave nectar)|
|1 3/4 cup (or a little more)||14 oz||42 oz||water**|
* I replace the yeast for a single batch with the discard from my sourdough starter. I do this more so as not to waste the starter (which would otherwise be thrown away) than for the flavor, although I’ll take sourdough flavor any way I can get it. So for my tripled batch, I used .4 oz. yeast + about 1/2 cup sourdough starter discard.
** Whole wheat flour (red more so than white) absorbs more water than white flour, so you may end up needing to use more than what Peter calls for. I’ve compensated above by using slightly less flour instead of more water in the tripled batch; you may need to adjust the water or flour slightly in the single batch.
Weigh or measure the flour into the mixer bowl. Here’s Hieronymous (or his bowl, anyway)!
Weigh or measure the salt; add to the flour.
Weigh or measure the yeast; add to the flour. Salt kills yeast, so try to add it to the bowl somewhere the salt is not.
Weigh or measure the olive oil; add to the flour.
Weigh or measure the agave nectar or sugar; add to the flour. (Tip: weighing or measuring the olive oil before the agave nectar makes the agave nectar easier to transfer to the mixing bowl.)
Hieronymous’s mixing bowl with the ingredients so far (including my sourdough starter for some of the yeast):
Weigh or measure the water then add to the mixing bowl. Here is Hieronymous heroically handling ingredients nearly to the rim of his bowl, and no, my friends, he will not struggle!
Hieronymous is now ready to go!
Mix on low speed for about two minutes, until the dough starts to form a rough ball.
Let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, find storage containers for the dough and spray each with olive oil. You are not supposed to reuse and freeze containers like these Earth Balance containers, but they happen to be the perfect size for my pizza doughs. Peter suggests making three 12-ounce crusts from a single batch of this dough (which will make three 12″ pizzas), but instead I make five crusts per single batch (they end up being between 7 and 8 ounces each) for individually sized pizzas. So I had to find 15 containers. When selecting containers, keep in mind that the dough will probably double in the refrigerator, however, it won’t grow in the freezer, so to save freezer space, you could freeze them in small containers and transfer them to larger ones when you move them to the refrigerator the night before baking. That’s too much effort for me.
Resume mixing on medium-low or medium speed for 5 minutes, adding flour or water by the tablespoon if necessary to obtain a tacky but not sticky dough.
Sprinkle some flour on a workspace and dump the dough onto it, coating in just enough of the flour to keep it from sticking.
Divide the dough into equal parts.
Here are all my individual dough pieces waiting to be shaped:
Round each piece, pinching the dough together at the bottom to create surface tension, as if you were making a roll.
Pop the rounded dough into an individual container and roll it around in the olive oil to coat.
Close each container and immediately place the number of crusts you want to make in the next three days in the refrigerator. Promptly freeze the rest.
The dough will stay good in the refrigerator for 3 days, so move as many as you need from the freezer sometime between the night before up to three days before you plan to use it. I assume that most weekends we will end up having pizza, but it could end up being for lunch or dinner on any day, so I just move two containers to the fridge on Friday night. And if we haven’t eaten them by Monday, we have pizza for dinner on Monday night.
My mother-in-law and her sister are visiting us this weekend. When they were here earlier in the week, I promised them pizza this weekend, so after whipping up the dough as documented above on Wednesday night, I had a little pizza party tonight. An hour before you’d like to serve the pizza, turn your oven up as high as it will go; mine goes to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a pizza stone (which I strongly recommend), preheat it as well. Remove the dough containers from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature. This picture shows how much the dough has risen; sometimes it rises so much it pushes out of the container, but this batch has restrained itself a bit. Keep the containers covered while they sit.
Meanwhile, prepare the pizza sauce. Heat some olive oil in a small saucepan, then add a few cloves minced or pressed garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add some crushed or diced tomatoes (I like Muir Gardens fire-roasted crushed tomatoes) and some freshly ground salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, them remove from the heat. You can puree it if you’d like; I always do when I used diced tomatoes and only sometimes do when I used crushed tomatoes.
The toppings I prepared were: Daiya mozzarella, caramelized onions, sliced heirloom tomatoes, vegan pepperoni, ground vegan Italian sausage, sliced jalapenos, and various herbs and spices. Usually when we have company, I do a prepare-your-own-pie thing, so here I’ve made a little assembly line of the various toppings.
After the oven has been heating and the crusts have been resting for an hour, dust a pizza peel with semolina or cornmeal. If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can use the back of a cookie sheet. I once read somewhere that cornmeal acts like little casters, rolling your pizza off the peel and into your oven, which was an image I liked. You can’t actually see the semolina I used in this picture, but believe me, it’s there. Don’t use too much because it’ll just end up burning in the oven, but use enough to keep the dough from sticking to the peel or cookie sheet.
Sprinkle a moderate amount of flour on a work surface. Remove a single pizza dough from its container, flatten into a small circle, and place in the sprinkled dough. Flip it over to coat both sides in flour, but try to only use as much flour as you need to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface or your hands. If the dough springs back after you roll it out, let it rest for 5 minutes then try again.
Use a rolling pin to roll out a pizza crust to your desired thickness and width, flipping the dough several times and rubbing it in the dough to prevent sticking on both sides.
Transfer the rolled-out dough to your prepared peel or cookie sheet; you can pick it up and place it there or just sort of drag it onto the peel.
Top with some sauce, leaving room at the edges for holding. My sauce was pretty thick tonight for some reason; often it is much thinner than this. Don’t worry about thinnish sauce – it will thicken as it cooks. You may need less sauce than you think, as well. Don’t add so much it makes the dough soggy. This is really almost too much sauce.
Sprinkle with herbs like oregano, red chili flakes, dried basil, etc.
I like to bury my toppings under the “cheese” because they tend to burn if you put them on top of the cheese. I’m usually a minimalist when it comes to pizza. Even before I was vegan, I preferred a simple cheese pizza, light on the cheese. As I was entertaining tonight and had prepared several different toppings, I ended up piling some of all of them on my pizza, but I don’t really recommend this as it makes the pizza too heavy.
Transfer to the oven. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can bake the pizza on a pizza pan or the back of a cookie sheet – the same one on which you built the pizza if you don’t have a peel. I’m a snob and don’t think I could ever go back to baking pizza on anything other than my Fibrament baking stone. I use it for bread as well, and in fact, it never leaves my oven. It does take a long time to heat up (45 minutes, at least), but it makes for a perfect crust.
Bake until done. That’s pretty nebulous, I suppose, but how long it takes will depend on the size and thickness of your pizza, the type and amount of toppings, how hot your oven gets, and probably a host of other factors. It’s a quick process, though, possibly a lot quicker than you think. Mine usually take 5 minutes.
Commercial vegan cheese probably isn’t the healthiest thing in the world for you, but other than that, if you use whole wheat flour for the crust, this not the diet nightmare that most pizzas are, so feel free to indulge every weekend!