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Pizza Chronicles, Part 3: Whole Wheat Crust and Turkey Meatballs

April 6, 2007

Whole Wheat Crusted Pizza

Apparently, it is my kitchen mission to mix and toss and stretch and top until I find the perfect home kitchen pizza dough. This, my friends, is the best I’ve tried so far. The crust was the closest to crispy its been yet, and any shortcomings are surely the fault of the pan on which I cooked said pizza, and not the crust itself. This time around I gave that dough a full 24-hour fermentation period. I let the oven heat for over 45 minutes, at 500F. I finally managed to stretch a pizza dough without ending up with huge gaping holes in random places. I think, yes, I believe I’m finally getting the hang of this!

The topping on this best-yet pizza dough was none too shabby, either. Fontina cheese, fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and some leftover turkey meatballs (from the meatball trauma of weeks ago)–man, this thing was deeelicious. After taking it out of the oven I sprinkled some coarsely ground sea salt and dried oregano over the thing, to loud and resounding applause from Miss Crystal. I had originally thought to add capers, and decided not to, but I’m thinking that would have been a nice idea.

I used one of the recipes from Peter Reinhart’s American Pie, substituting half of the flour for whole-wheat, in my lastest kick to be at least a little bit healthy. (As an aside, this “healthy kick” resulted in me eating a completely unappetizing meal of canned salmon, chickpeas, zucchini, and potatoes in a kind of spicy teriyaki sauce the other night. Sometimes I should really be stopped.) It is my intention to try all of the pizza dough recipes in Reinhart’s book, so this was the very first one, the classic Napoletana dough recipe. Though I highly doubt they’d allow whole-wheat flour in Naples, it’s not as though I’m going for DOC certification or anything, so I felt perfectly justified in the switch.

It was a great dough–totally easy to work with, didn’t rise too ridiculously much, nice and bready (maybe I should have stretched it thinner, but it was good), and it even got a little bit crispy on the bottom, even with my lame-ass baking sheet. If I weren’t intent on trying every recipe in that book, I’d probably just stick with this one from now on.

Pizzaaaaa

Napoletana Pizza Dough, a la Peter Reinhart (with modifications by me)

  • 2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/4 c. whole wheat, 1 1/4 c. white)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 to 1 1/2 c. cool water

The main modification, other than adding whole wheat flour, was simply that I halved the recipe. What is with all these recipes that will make, like, four pizzas or five dozen biscuits? Who needs that?

Reinhart just said to mix everything together in a bowl, but I did proof the yeast a bit, in about a quarter of a cup of water, first. Then I mixed everything together until it was smooth and elastic. The dough will stick to your hands less if you keep your hands wet. Reinhart recommends using your hands “like a dough hook,” but I’m not entirely sure what that means. I just kneaded the dough until it formed a nice, smooth ball.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for about half an hour, then transfer the dough to the refrigerator. It should sit over night. Apparently, you can also freeze it, and take it out the night before you want to cook it so it has time to thaw.

If it’s not in the freezer, and has instead enjoyed an overnight sleep in the fridge, take it out about two hours before you want to cook it, so it has time to relax a little and is easier to shape. Preheat the oven for 45 minutes at 500F. Then top it with whatever and bake it for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and the crust browns at the edges. And you have pizza.

I think I figured out that one of my crust problems has to do with the baking sheet I’ve been using. It’s one of those insulated cooking sheets. I’m not sure why I never thought of this before, but I’m sure the pocket of air isn’t helping to crisp up my crust. No matter, we’re getting our pizza stone back in two weeks anyway.

This one was super cheesy and salty and delicious. It was sauceless, which I’m kind of starting to like. Who would have thought? I always used to be an extra sauce kind of girl. Saucy, if you will. And I’m glad I finally managed to put those leftover turkey meatballs to good use (I did bake them, for about 7 minutes at 500F, before putting them on the pizza. They weren’t entirely cooked through, but they finished cooking on the pizza, so the turkey wasn’t too dried out. It was excellent.)

All in all, this is certainly one dough recipe that will stay in the top five, I suspect. Up next: Reinhart’s Neo-Napoletana dough, the quintessential American-style pizza we all know and love. Hopefully cooked on a pizza stone.

Final shot

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