The Week Is Over – And It’s Pizza Friday!
We did it! We survived another busy and somewhat stressful week and it’s finally weekend! We love Friday nights knowing that two whole family days are waiting for us. In the mornings, I don’t have to pack what feels like one hundred meals, we get to sleep in (at least until 7am, then our kids, who’ve already been up for at least an hour, wake us up while trying to be quiet) and spend time together.
Our favorite Friday night celebration foods are: Tacos and Pizza.
Because of my slightly exhausted state come Friday afternoon, our Friday night dinners were meant to be simple with the least amount of work for me. Having said so, I bought tortillas and wholemeal pizza bases at the supermarket and only had to add the toppings or quickly whip up the taco filling (http://plantbasedhappy.com/?page_id=872). There was just one little problem… the store bought versions never tasted that great! At least not for our spoiled taste buds.
So once again, I found myself making tortillas and pizzas from scratch. The big plus is that they really do taste good, the disadvantage- I am busy in the kitchen again. So far, I’ve been ok with it and with making the pizza dough ahead of time, either the night before or- if I am not working- the same day in the morning (Note on the side: Pizza dough can also be placed in the freezer in case you really want to plan ahead. Freeze the rolled out dough circles).
Traditional pizza is made of Type “OO” flour. These Italian Flours are also called “dopio zero”, meaning “double zero”. The type describes how finely the flour is milled. “OO”‘s are the softest, finest, Italian flours; they are very finely ground like a fine powder and are very white. They have the most refinement done to them and the least fibre remaining.
Type “OO” flour is a flour with a protein level of 12%. The high gluten level in the flour gives the dough a good elasticity and robustness. Gluten is the key to great pizza dough; it forms strands which bind together like a web during the mixing and kneading process, air bubbles are trapped in this web and expand during cooking allowing the pizza dough to rise. During baking the stretched gluten becomes rigid as the moisture evaporates from the heat of the oven and sets the dough structure.
Perfect Neapolitan-style pizza is per definition THIN in the middle, puffs up around the rim and is made in a wood-burning 1000°F oven.
Original pizza has nothing to do with chain-store pizza with their thick, doughy crusts, usually loaded with cheese even before the extras like pepperoni and sausage are added- something you would never find in Italy.
I tried a whole lot of online healthy pizza base recipes and the sad truth is: pizza dough does not taste right or look right if made only with wholemeal flour. It simply can’t because of the difference in flour. So I started adding the famous “OO” flour and played around with the ratio of white to wholemeal flour, different types of flour and so forth. I came up with a great recipe that has about a 50/50 ratio. Sometimes I even get the puffy airy rim, but mostly I don’t. For the rim to rise, the texture of the dough has to be perfectly right- and you should probably bake the pizza in a proper pizza oven.
The taste of the pizza is always great though! I would definitely recommend using a pizza stone for a conventional oven. It more or less mimicks the effects of cooking a pizza in a masonry oven. The porous nature of the stone helps absorb moisture, resulting in a crispy crust.
Here is my latest as-healthy-as-it-can-get pizza base recipe (makes two 12- to 14-inch crusts):
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup plus one tsp warm water
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing the pizza crusts
- 1 1/4 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional if necessary for kneading
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- Stir the yeast into the warm water and let sit for two or three minutes, until the water is cloudy. Stir in the olive oil. Combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice. Then, with the machine running, pour in the yeast mixture. Process until the dough forms a ball on the blades. Remove from the processor (the dough will be a little tacky; flour or moisten your hands so it won’t stick), and knead on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, adding flour as necessary for a smooth dough.
- Divide the dough in two equal balls. Dust your pizza balls with flour and store them under a damp towel or under plastic wrap. This will prevent the outside of the ball from drying out and creating a crust, and becoming difficult to work with. The top of the pizza balls should be soft and silky.
- Your pizza balls will need to rest for about an hour to become soft and elastic, so that they can be easily stretched into a thin crust pizza.
- If you won’t need your dough for more than an hour, refrigerate it until you are ready to start. Before you start rolling it out, let it warm up for a few minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven.
- Roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface with a rolling pin. With your fingers, form a slightly thicker raised rim around edge of the circle.
- Top the pizza with the toppings of your choice and bake for about 10 minutes.
To get the print version of this recipe, please click on the following link: http://plantbasedhappy.com/?page_id=3297
If you want to try the difference between half healthy/ half refined and just healthy pizza dough, try this recipe for a completely whole wheat pizza base:
- 1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees (very warm, almost too hot for comfort)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 envelope rapid-rise or instant yeast
- 2¾ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
The instructions are the same as the ones for the other dough.
How can I go through all the trouble making the pizza base if I use a store bought tomato sauce? My homemade tomato sauce recipe is very simple and we make it once a week from the ripest tomatoes we can get our hands on and freeze most of it.
- Add a tablespoon of extra vergin olive oil to a heavy pot and fry a few slices of garlic in it (don’t allow them to turn brown!).
- Wash the tomatoes and quarter them, add them to the pot and cook for at least one hour on low heat. The longer, the tastier. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Puree the mixture in a blender until smooth (or leav it chunky, if you use it as a pasta sauce) and store in the fridge or freezer.
The white pizza flour is the only refined ingredient in my pantry (apart from the occasional dairy free grated cheese for our kids’ pizza, which they use very sparingly). Everything else we eat is wholemeal and includes tons of whole veggies and fruits with huge amount of fiber and nutrients. Like the Italians, we also enjoy a large salad – preferably arugula- as an appetizer. So I think it’s ok having a bit of refined flour from time to time in the shape of a pizza… the world is not always black and white…