If you’re with us on the concept of “baby-stepping” your way to healthier, better tasting food, one thing you can’t leave out of your arsenal is a whole wheat pizza crust. We all love pizza. That’s a statistical fact, even if I’ve never researched it. It’s fun to make, easy and there are zero rules when it comes to what you put on top of it. Nutritionally, it can be a hazard or a helper, depending on a few simple choices made in the ingredients. Our whole wheat thin crust pizza recipe increases the nutritional quality of your favorite pizza or calzone recipe by taking out the white flour and substituting it with 100% organic whole wheat flour. The only other ingredients are good old water, a very little bit of Kosher salt and some yeast. What you put on top of it is your business, but we recommend you go the distance and keep the toppings/fillings low-fat, protein packed and nutrient rich. Makes sense, right? You might simply like the taste of whole wheat curst, which I can testify and solemnly swear rivals a pizza crust made with white flour. The whole wheat version is a bit hardier and lends itself better to the whole point of a thin crust pizza, which is to put a little “snap” in your “pie” (or calzone) and let the toppings rule the taste without a big wad of gooey dough taking the stage.
We’ve got a post coming with one of our all-time favorite whole wheat pizza creations if you need some ideas, but you can get started right now with a couple of our earlier posts that will help get the idea ball rolling. For a made-from-scratch, healthier, simple and Italian-licious sauce, click on our Classic Marinara recipe. For a few topping and calzone filling inspirations (both on the healthy side of things, but you might want to trade out the goat’s cheese on the pizza for a nice, low-fat mozzarella or ricotta), try our spinach and mushroom calzone, our healthier stromboli or our walnut, goat cheese and arugula pizza.
Soundtrack: I’m so anxious to get back home to some vinyl. Flashback to an earlier post and Josh gifted me a real, live record player for Christmas. One of my first quests in my new role as retro record guy is to replace my long lost Police-Reggatta de Blanc album. Officially, my first obsession with a band and music that kept me trapped blissfully in my room with a set of headphones for at least a month. Reggae was “4:20″ music to a midwestern high school boy, but these white guys from the UK bundled it with rock, bleach-blond hair and pretty boy faces and brought it in on the “Punk” movement like a Trojan horse left at the Peaches Record Shop at the mall. Love it to this day. I’m stil convinced Stewart Copeland has seven hands.
Crust: 3/4 Cup luke warm water
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 Cups organic, whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
By Hand: Sprinkle the yeast into the luke warm water (just above body temperature), stir briefly with a fork until the yeast has dissolved. Set aside for 5 minutes. It does not need to foam but it’s ok if it does. It should look like miso soup when it’s ready. Place the flour in a medium bowl or on a flat, clean surface and whisk with the salt to combine. Form the dry flour/salt mixture into a mound, then use your fist to create a hole in the center. Pour the water and yeast mixture into the hole and stir with a fork, slowly pulling the flour into the water. Continue to stir until all of the water is absorbed into the flour, then form into a single ball.
With a Food Processor: I really prefer the food processor for pizza dough. It’s fast, its easy and it takes a few minutes out of the kneading by hand time you’ll need (no pun intended). Simply place the dry ingredients in your processor fitted with the metal blade, put the cover on and process for 20 seconds to combine the salt and flour. With the processor still running, remove the liquid fill-hole cap and slowly (count to five) pour in water/yeast mixture. Let the processor run until the dough forms into a ball and most of the ingredients have gathered to it. Once the water is introduced, it takes about 30 seconds before we have a formed ball and there are just a few bits of dough rattling around free. Remove the ball of dough carefully (those blades are wicked sharp) and gather any large bits of extra dough you can and work them into the ball.
Whether you mixed by hand or use a food processor, knead the dough until it’s silky and smooth. It might be a little sticky. If it starts to stick to your hands after a few minutes of kneading (it wil always stick a little when you first start kneading it but it will improve in most cases after a few minutes), add a little flour to your hands and continue to knead. Cut the ball in half with a pastry scraper or knife. Dust a 12″ x 12″ piece of parchment paper with a little bit of flour, form each ball into a 1/4″ thick disk. Place your palm in the center of the disk and gently pull the edge up and out, rotating the disk after each pull. You can also roll out the dough with a lightly floured rolling pin.
This dough is a great freezer meal for later. You can freeze it for a year in an airtight container or freezer bag but it’s reccomended to wrap it in plastic wrap first to minimize the potential for freezer burn. Take the dough out of the freezer four hours before you intend to work with it. It also keeps well in the refrigerator for up to seven days in an airtight container. Take the dough out of the refrigerator one hour before you intended to work with it, letting it come to room temperature.
Baking times and temperatures vary depending on what you’re preparing but here are some rough guidelines:
Pizza: 425 degrees for 5 minutes (sauce only) then an additional 7 minutes once toppings are added
Calzone: (using each ball of dough to make 1 large calzone): 425 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling (through the air vents you remembered to cut) and the top is starting to brown.