Whole Grain Pizza

pizza-11

I recently got the magazine Cook’s Illustrated recommended, and the magazine is really interesting. It has fairly long articles on the how and why’s of the recipes, and some of the experimental steps the authors go though.

The latest issue (May/June 2013) had an article on thin crust whole wheat pizza, and it looked really delicious. My mom used to bake a whole sheet pan of pizza, and I have not made it ever myself (not counting providing toppings at a party I held years ago, an Italian friend of mine insisted that she brought the dough when I wanted to make pizza – of course I didn’t get the recipe).

I love thin crust and whole grain stuff, so I thought I would try it out. The recipe also required the use of a pizza stone, and I have been thinking of getting one for baking too. Cook’s Illustrated is great in that it also contains equipment (and ingredient) reviews and recommendations, I got an Old Stone Oven pizza stone, so far I like it.

I cut the recipe in half to only make one pizza, and I made it by hand though the original calls for using a food processor. I prefer doing anything but pie crust by hand, and it was really easy.

Ingredients: (orginal recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, June 2013)

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (120g)
  • 1/2 cup bread flour (75 g)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1/2 + 1/8 cup water (150 ml)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

1. Mix together whole wheat flour, bread flour, honey and yeast.

2. Add water until the dough is just coming together, then make it all come together with your hands. Let stand for 10 min.

Adding the water and mixing

Adding the water and mixing

After gathering together with my hands

After gathering together with my hands

3. Add olive oil and salt, knead it in and keep kneading for a couple of minutes.

pizza-3

4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap (I use a big elastic band to keep it tight) and refrigiate for 18 hours or more – up to 2 days.

Ball of dough

Ball of dough

After 36 hours in the fridge

After 36 hours in the fridge

5. About 1.5 hours before you are ready to have your pizza, take the dough out of the fridge, punch it down and form a ball. Leave it to rest on your work surface with some oiled plastic wrap over for an hour.

pizza-6

6. Mean while, place your pizza stone about 4.5 inches/10 cm from your oven’s broiler and turn oven to 500 F/ 260 C (check you pizza stone instructions to make sure it can take 500 F and broiling).

7. Prepare your toppings while you wait.

8. After the dough has rested an hour, press flat to an 8 inch/20 cm disc. Keep stretching it at the edges, partially by lifting it up, until it is 12 inches/30 cm across. I found this quite difficult, it probably requires a little practice!

Stretching to a small disc

Stretching to a small disc

Working it out to a big disc. It was a little hard not to get it too thin in the middle

Working it out to a big disc. It was a little hard not to get it too thin in the middle

8. Turn on broiler to run 10 min before the pizza goes in the oven.

10. Transfer pizza dough to a well floured pizza peel or cutting board – I used a bamboo one iand it worked ok. Stretch to maintain the shape, but make sure the pizza can move freely on the board.

Not quite perfect round on the board. I found it hard to have it stay in shape when it didn't stick to the surface

Not quite perfect round on the board. I found it hard to have it stay in shape when it didn’t stick to the surface

11. Top your pizza.

I choose goat cheese and pesto

I choose goat cheese and pesto

12. Slide the pizza from your board to the pizza stone. Turn oven back to 500 F / 260 C.

13. Bake for about 8-12 minutes, until well browned and crisp. If your oven is uneven it is a good idea to turn the pizza half way through.

14. Take pizza out by sliding it back on your board or peel, and transfer to a wire to cool a min or two. Enjoy!

Despite my dough-stretching being less than perfect, the pizza turned out really well. I was surprised how filling it was, the whole grain made it hearty in the good way.

Cook’s Illustrated recommended non-tomato based toppings and had a couple of suggestions, we used pesto and goat cheese, others were things like mushrooms and cream sauce or braised onions and gorgonzola. I used a great pesto recipe from simplyrecipes.com.

I can’t wait to try some breads on the pizza stone, and maybe also some different pizza dough recipes.

Pear Tart

pear tart

I have been having craving for a great fruit tart for a while, and the March issue of Food & Wine magazine had a recipe Plum Galette from Jacques Pepin that looked great (this was an anniversary edition with all time best recipes, this one is from 1994. I am happy they re-printed it!).

Since it said that I could make it with any seasonal fruit, in Washington winter that means apples or pears, I choose pears. The original recipe is linked above, this is what I ended up doing

Pate Brisee (tart dough)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (350 ml)
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, in small (1/2 inch/1.5 cm) pieces (170 g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup ice water (80 ml)
  • Note: To help keep the butter cold, I usually cut it, and then freeze it for 5 min, as cutting will melt it a bit.

Method:

1. Add the flour, salt and butter to a food processor. Pulse for about 5 seconds. The butter will still be in pieces, they might be fairly large. This helps create a super flakey crust.

Dumping it all in the food processor

Dumping it all in the food processor

Pulsing for just a short time

Pulsing for just a short time

2. Add the ice water and pulse for 5 seconds more. The dough should just come together, with pieces of butter still visible. Gather the dough into a ball on your work surface

3. Roll out the dough to 16-18 inch circle, about 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick (40-45 cm diameter, 1.5 -3 mm thick. Fold the dough over, then over again to transfer to a large, parchment lined baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20 min.

Rolled out dough

Rolled out dough

Filling and tart

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar (60 ml)
  • 3-4 tbsp ground raw almonds or almond meal
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2-4 pears, cut into thin wedges
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter in small bits
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar (additional)
  • 2-3 tbsp apricot jam

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F/ 204 C while you wait for the dough to chill and cut the pears.

2. Mix the 1/4 cup sugar, the flour and the ground almonds in a small bowl. Take your chilled dough our of the refrigerator and spread the mixture over dough to about 2 inches/5 cm from the edge

3. Add the pear wedges on top in a pretty pattern, starting from the inside make this easier.

Adding the pears

Adding the pears

4. Dot the pears with butter, and sprinkle a bit of the remaining sugar on top. Use more or less depending on how sweet you like it (I used a lot less than the original recipe called for).

5. Fold the edge of the dough over the fruit and fillings, and sprinkle the edge with a bit more sugar.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

6. Bake for about 1 hour, until the crust is golden brown and the pears are soft. Heat the apricot jam in microwave a for 15-30 seconds to melt it. Brush the jam over the pears and the edge when the tart comes out of the oven.

7. Remove the tart from the baking sheet using a spatula, and let cool on rack.

The recipe promised that the pate brisee was the easiest ever, and it was. It was also super, super flakey and crisp. In other recipes I often see instructions to keep pulsing the dough until in resembles coarse bread crumbs, I think leaving bigger pieces of butter is actually a better idea.

Both me and my husband thought the tart was better the day after it was made, so the juices of the fruit have had time to settle into the filling the dough was a little less crunchy. I can definitely see trying this with different fruits as they are in season.