20 December 2011

No-Knead, Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I kind of hate pizza delivery. It's never fast enough, it's never very good, and if you're ordering for a crowd it's always about compromise. Have you ever had pizza with someone who wanted exactly what you wanted?

I also prefer baking with whole grains most of the time. Some pizza places will offer a whole grain crust, but they're not serious about it, so it's terrible: more biscuit or cracker than yeasted dough and too sweet. Blech.

This dough makes it easy for me to make pizza at home because it takes just a few minutes to mix up and then it sits in the refrigerator waiting for me. The only downside is that you can't start when the craving hits and have pizza half an hour later. The obvious solution is to eat pizza once a week, and make a new batch of dough while you're cleaning up.

I'm not from New York or Chicago and I do not claim to be a pizza expert. There are plenty of pizza experts out there who will teach you how to stretch a pizza, and how to move your pizza from the peel to the oven.  Just be careful not to  feed the raw dough to your dog accidentally.

One thing I do know: you need your oven as hot as it can get, and you need to turn it on at least half an hour before you want to start baking, even if your oven has a rapid pre-heat setting. Pizza relies on high, even temperatures to get the crust to rise in the oven and be crispy on the outside. Commercial pizza ovens get a lot hotter than your home oven, so there's no need to worry about it being too hot in there.

In the Oven

No-knead, whole wheat pizza dough
makes 4-6 individual pizzas or 2 medium pizzas.

1 ½ cups water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 ½ Tablespoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cups hard whole wheat flour

Choose a large container that will fit inside your refrigerator. Stir together all the ingredients except the flour. Stir in flour one cup at a time. The dough will be quite sticky, just make sure all the flour has been incorporated and try not to worry. 
Cover the container and set aside to rise. It may take anywhere from 4-12 hours to double depending on the temperature.

Once the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down,then grab an edge of the dough, lift it slightly and pull it in towards the center. Continue all the way around the dough, then flip the dough over in the container. Cover and place in your refrigerator and then don't think about it for a day or two. You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for 2-7 days.

When you're ready to make pizza, take the dough out of the fridge and place it in a warm place.

If you have a pizza stone, put it on the floor or lowest rack of the oven. At least half an hour before you want to start baking, preheat your oven as hot as it gets. Dig through your refrigerator and pantry for toppings. Chop and shred as necessary.

Dust your pizza peel or baking sheet with whole wheat flour or corn meal.

Divide the dough as desired. Take a ball of dough for one pizza and drop into your bag of whole wheat flour. Toss to coat. Stretch the dough and then place gently on the peel or baking sheet. Top as desired.

Move the pizza to the oven, keeping the oven door open for as short a time as possible to retain heat. Now watch. The dough will rise as the air bubbles inside expand in the heat. It's a beautiful thing. How long it takes to bake the pizza depends on how hot your oven is, so keep an eye on it. It's done when the cheese in the middle starts to bubble. Remove the pizza from the oven and try to wait a minute so your cheese cools from “molten lava” down to “Hot! Hothothothot!”  

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