Friday, October 8, 2010

Welcome to My Pizzeria! (Whole Wheat Pizza Crust)

I love pizza! I don't know very many people who don't love pizza, come to think of it... :) My family used to have pizza and movie nights every Sunday when I was growing up (and I think they still do!) and for many years my sisters and I made our own homemade pizza crust. I have tried many recipes for crust, all of which were good. But a few months ago, I think I stumbled on my favorite crust yet. I was on a diet (still should be, haha!) and looking for a low calorie, thin crust I could use with some healthy toppings. I can't remember where I found it, actually, so I'm not sure who to give the credit to! But the last two times I've made it, I have gone the healthier route and used whole wheat flour, which I think improved it even more- not only is it good for you, but the whole wheat gives it a great flavor! If you haven't tried a homemade crust, and you like your crust a bit on the thin side, you've got to give this recipe a try. It's easy and tastes fabulous with any toppings! We have tried ham & pineapple (for all you Hawaiian fans!), pepperoni with or without olives, and I've even used leftover sloppy Joe or taco meat for a topping- yum! It depends on what I have between the cupboard and the freezer! But I think our favorite is the ever-being-modified chicken pizza. But I need to start at the beginning!
First things first- as all good recipes start: preheat the oven! This is the only recipe I have ever made where you heat the oven to 500. Yeah. That's hot. :) While the oven is warming up to this insane temperature, I mix the yeast and sugar with warm water and let it sit while I mix the flours and salt together and cook the chicken. After about 8 minutes, I pour the yeast mixture over the flour and stir with my favorite wooden spoon. Then I form the dough into a ball and knead it for about 2 minutes, then press it into a semi-round shape. Then comes the fun part! You can do it however it seems to work for you, but I like to hold the dough in my hand and keep turning it around and around while I gently pull the edges out. I usually do this until it starts to tear a little, then I put it on the greased pizza sheet and begin pressing it out toward the edges of the pan (if you make it pretty thin, it will fit one 15" pizza sheet, but you can go smaller if you like it a bit thicker- experiment!). If any holes appear, just pinch them shut with your fingers!
Next, spread your sauce of choice on top. I like Ragu Homemade style (since we are going homemade here...). Chicken pizza is also delicious with white garlic sauce, but I haven't tried that at home yet. Spread as generously as you like (I go pretty thin- I don't like really saucy pizza), but don't forget to leave the edges sauce-free for the crust! Cheese goes on top of this, of course, and again you can choose your preference! I usually go with all mozzarella for the chicken pizza, and a blend of mozzarella and cheddar for pepperoni, Hawaiian and other varieties. I have also used a blend of mozzarella and feta for the chicken pizza, which is also very yummy. However, feta isn't something I usually have on hand!
The last step in the pizza-building process is the toppings! I think my chicken pizza turns out just a bit different every time, depending on what I have around to add to it!
Tonight's version included: one diced chicken breast, pan-fried in olive oil and sprinkled with Pizza seasoning (a mixture of oregano, basil, marjoram & garlic) and garlic powder, two fresh diced Roma tomatoes, a can of sliced olives, and generous amounts of fresh spinach. A note on the spinach: add this last and don't be afraid to cover pretty much the whole pizza with it. It shrinks lots during cooking, so if you don't put on very much, you'll regret it. If you cover the whole thing, it shrinks up to be just the right amount. This is what our pizza consisted of tonight, but don't be afraid to experiment with your own favorite flavors!
Once all the toppings are situated, pop that pizza in the oven! The blazing 500 degrees cook it in only about 10-12 minutes (or maybe less, depending on your oven!).
One of the best things about making pizza at home is getting your creative juices flowing and creating your own masterpiece! Experiment with flavors. Cheeses, meats, veggies. The possibilities are endless! This is the stuff traditions are made of.

Homemade Whole Wheat Thin Pizza Crust
(printable version)
(if you don't want whole wheat, just use all white flour)
makes 1 pizza

1 .25 oz. package of active dry yeast
1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Italian herbs

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Allow to rest for 8 min. Mix flours, salt and herbs in another bowl. Pour yeast mixture over flour and mix with sturdy spoon. On lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 2 min. Allow dough to rest covered with a cloth about 5 min. Press into a 12" circle. You may also lift off of counter and rotate in hands, pulling dough gently into a circular shape. Place on lightly greased pizza sheet, stretch and press dough to edges. Spread with sauce and add desired toppings. Bake 8-12 min. or until edges are golden brown. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. We just bought a Pizza Stone the other day and so were trying out "our" first homemade pizza tonight. It's been on the menu for a few weeks now, so I'm hoping it's good...I'm sure it will be :)


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