As someone who likes to be perpetually busy, I don’t find myself with many nights all to myself with nothing to do. I prefer it this way, but relaxing nights at home are necessary every once in a while. Of course, being the way I am, I’m not great at sitting still during these nights at home. Instead of ordering takeout and watching reruns on Netflix, I usually make a fun, somewhat time-intensive dinner…and then watch reruns on Netflix while basking in my culinary accomplishment, and then probably cleaning the entire apartment…or you know, whatever.
Last week I knew I had an upcoming night of nothing, so I planned for the occasion by preparing some pizza dough the night before. My mom gave me a pizza and flatbread cookbook for my birthday in January, along with a pizza stone and pizza peel. As a true pizza freak, I started playing with my new toys right away. However, since homemade pizza dough was unfamiliar territory, and I tend to be a toe-dipper with new things, I had only made the book’s “Master Recipe.” How very vanilla of me, I know.
On the eve of my solitary evening, I decided I wanted to go crazy and make a new recipe from the book. That’s right folks, watch out for this girl. So, I took the bookmark off of the Master Recipe, and turned several pages until I found the instructions for whole wheat pizza dough. Why mess with Master Recipe perfection, you ask? Although I can’t deny my love of comfort food, I do like to make decadent things healthier whenever possible. I knew the wheat dough might not come together as seamlessly as the white dough, but I’d make it work. After all, I’m not above eating imperfectly crusted pizza…it’s still pizza and I’m still human. (Spoiler alert: I ate perfect pizza that was fit for a Superhuman, but I’m not above sharing it with mere humans, so proceed.)
Whole Wheat White Pizza
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Adapted from “100% Whole Wheat Dough” in Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
Makes enough dough for 4-6 pizzas.
- 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 tablespoon granulated yeast
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- A teeny tiny dab of honey (not very scientific, but really a dab’ll do ya)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Serves 1-2 (I ate almost the whole thing though, so if you have more than yourself to feed plan accordingly. Or just assume I eat a lot, which is fair.)
- 1/2 cup fresh ricotta
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 small zucchini, sliced
- 1/2 yellow squash, sliced
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan
- Sprinkle of dried thyme
Whisk together the lukewarm water, yeast, dab of honey, salt, olive oil, and oregano in a large bowl with a lid. I used a 4 quart bowl and it was a perfect size. Fold in the flour gradually using a wooden spoon until you can’t take it anymore and simply must use your hands. Eventually using your fingers will be the only way to get the dry flour at the bottom of the bowl. No need to knead, just squish it all together gently until it forms a loose dough. Put the lid on the bowl, but just barely (it shouldn’t be airtight. In fact it shouldn’t even think about being airtight). Let it sit, lid loose, at room temperature for about two hours. After two hours you’ll see the dough has risen so it is flat across the top. That’s a good sign. Cover it (again, not quite airtight) and store in the fridge for up to 7 days. Boom, dough done.
When you feel like making yourself a pizza, ask yourself if you’re going to use a regular pizza pan or a pizza stone. If using a pan, go about your usual business and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, turn your oven up to 500 degrees (yup, that’s hot…open some windows or lose some clothes). Put your pizza stone in the oven to preheat for 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake. As a side note, my pizza stone rocks my life, so you should get one if you are in need.
Grab a bowl and use a fork to mix the ricotta, goat cheese, salt, garlic, and lemon zest. Set it aside and find your zucchini.
Slice the zucchini and the squash, doing your darndest to keep the thickness consistent (this isn’t make-or-break, it’s just a good thing to do). Save the remaining zucchini and squash for a rainy day, or have fun setting them up like this in a sort of squash family, if you will.
Take your dough out of the refrigerator, and sprinkle the top with some flour. With floured hands, grab a handful of dough, about the size of a large orange. Holding the dough in both hands, push down from the sides and curl under, rotating a few times, to form a ball (again, no need to knead).
Find a clean surface to roll out the dough. If you have a pizza peel, use that, otherwise just make sure to use something that you can pick up easily, as transferring fresh dough is not an easy thing to do when you can’t work with angles and/or gravity. Sprinkle some corn meal on the surface to avoid any sticky dough fatalities. You can use flour if it’s all that is available, but a thin layer of corn meal on the bottom of crusts reminds me of delivery pizza, and I just can’t say no to that. Put your ball of dough on the surface coated with your nonstick agent of choice, and pat down slightly so you have a disk shape to work with.
Use a rolling-pin coated with flour to roll out your dough to your preferred thinness. Mine ended up being around 1/8-inch thick. After you’ve rolled out the dough for a minute or two, you should be able to push down and out with your hands to make it larger. Once you have your pizza circle, fold up the sides to make a defined crust. Don’t worry about making it pretty. It will be pretty enough, I assure you. Finish off the crust preparation by brushing on 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
Spoon on the ricotta mixture, and spread it out so the edge lands about 1/2-inch away from the far side of the crust. Top with zucchini and squash in an attractive circular pattern (or not, it’s your pizza). Sprinkle the parmesan over the top, and drizzle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add a few dashes of dried thyme over the top and you’re all set to bake.
If you have a pizza stone you’ll want to take care in your transfer of the pizza from the peel to the stone. This part is always exciting because you walk a fine line between greatness and catastrophe, holding all the power in your two hands on the pizza peel. If you don’t have a pizza peel and are sitting there with your pan wondering what I’m talking about, just do the usual and put the pan in the oven.
Pizza Stone/500 degrees: Check your pizza in 8-10 minutes.
Pizza Pan/350 degrees: Give it a good 10-12 minutes. Your crust will need more time because it is not on a preheated stone.
My cozy evening brought on a pretty sweet meal. The night may still seem pretty lame to outsiders, but this pizza filled the awesome void where I couldn’t. The corn meal on the outside led into a crunchy, flavorful crust with just enough softness inside. The lemon zest in the ricotta gave the pizza a bright kick, and merged perfectly with the veggies on top, which, in case you forgot, were coated with a thin layer of golden parmesan.
In addition to being delicious, this pizza came together rather quickly. By making the dough the night before, I side-stepped the two-hour rising time the night-of, and was able to have dinner earlier than usual. This left me with lots of time. Time to do what, though? Relax and watch reruns on Netflix while basking in my culinary accomplishment, of course…and maybe grab the broom and do a quick round through my place. Might as well as long as I’m home…right?