Carbohydrates, for a time were the enemy. ”I’m trying to avoid eating carbs,” was a common refrain. And it was annoying. Because it was vague, and a silly thing to say. What people meant was, “I’m avoiding simple sugars and starches.” Kale is primarily carbohydrate. It’s just complex.
Things have calmed down a bit. The anti-carb crusade has lost its momentum (although there are ominous hoardes of anti-gluten advocates forming). One trend that helped replace it was a diet high in whole grains and fiber. This I support wholeheartedly. I like brown bread, with nuts and seeds, rather than a white dinner roll. But pasta and pizza are a harder sell. There are more textural issues to overcome, and the flavor of the germ and bran can overwhelm more delicately flavored sauces or toppings.
But sometimes, someone insists upon a “healthy dinner” and you sigh, because you wanted pizza, and once you got in in your head, anything else surely would leave you disappointed.
But there is a solution, brought to us by Peter Reinhart, James Beard award-winning author of the Bread-Bakers Apprentice and Whole Grain Breads. Below is my adaptation of his recipe for whole grain pizza dough. I top it with tomato puree, fresh mozzarella and Trugole cheeses–Asiago is good substitute if you can’t find Trugole–thinly sliced fennel and lamb sausage.
These are strong, hearty flavors. They need to be, so that they are not overpowered by the flavor of the crust. A margherita would not do.
I should warn you of a few things. You need to start the dough a day in advance. Plan accordingly. The recipe will yield six 8-10 inch crusts, which freeze well after being par-cooked. I would also not recommend making this your first experience with stretching dough. The grains make it much easier for the dough to tear. Start with a more traditional crust and work your way up to this.
The dough uses two pre-ferments, a soaker and a biga.
- mixing bowls of assorted sizes
- plastic wrap
- kitchen scale
- small saucepan
- stand mixer
- large flat clean work surface
- parchment paper
- pizza peel, or half sheet pan
- 5 oz cooked whole grains, any combination will do, or you could by a whole-grain cereal mix
- 8 oz white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 7 oz water
- 8 oz white whole wheat flour
- 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 7 oz water
- biga, cut into twelve pieces, and lightly dusted with flour
- 3-4 oz. white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 oz vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 tsp salt, slightly rounded
- 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbs brown sugar
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
- a few leaves fresh basil
- olive oil
- one small bulb fennel, cored and sliced as thinly as possible on a mandoline
- 1/2 lb lamb sausage
- fresh mozzarella cheese, dried for one day*, cut into 1/2 inch dice
- Trugole or Asiago cheese, shredded
- fennel fronds chopped
1) Cook the grains. Place the grains, with an equal weight of water in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Simmer until the water is absorbed, before transferring to a small mixing bowl. Allow t0 cool.
2) Make the soaker. Add the flour, salt and water to the bowl with the grains. Mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight at room temperature.
3) Make the biga. Mix the flour, yeast and water in a small mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
4) Mix the final dough, and allow to rise. Place the soaker and the biga in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 3 oz flour, as well as the vital wheat gluten, salt, yeast, brown sugar, and olive oil. Mix on medium speed, with the dough hook for about 4 minutes. Slowly add the remaining flour until the dough is only slightly tacky. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled in size. About an hour.
5) Shape the dough. Divide the dough into six equal pieces. They should weigh about 6 oz each. Shape into a round, as you would a dinner roll. Place each round on a sheet of parchment paper, spaced about 3 inches apart and cover with plastic wrap. Allow them to proof until they flatten out a bit, about a half an hour to an hour. While the dough is proofing, pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees.
6) Stretch and parbake the dough. Stretch the dough into 8-10 inch rounds. Slide directly onto the pizza stone. Bake for 3-5 minutes, or until the dough is set but has not browned.
7) Make the pizza sauce. In a food processor, puree the tomatoes with a tbs of salt, a few leaves of basil and two tbs olive oil.
8) Top and bake the pizza. Top the pizza with tomato sauce, followed by the fennel, cheeses, and 1/2 tsp size bit of lamb sausage. Return to oven and bake until the cheese melts, and begins to brown. Remove and garnish with chopped fennel fronds. Serve.
*I suggest using fresh mozzarella for your pizzas. Even better if you are able to buy it from an artisan cheese maker, rather than a supermarket. But I suggest doing something that might be a bit counter-intuitive. Fresh mozzarella, moist and creamy, is perfect for a Caprese salad, but it simply has too much moisture for pizza. The water will separate and form a puddle on you lovely crust. Dice the mozzarella, wrap it in paper towels, and leave it in a zipper bag over night before using for pizza.
If you want to get started making your own bread, Peter Reinhart’s books are definitely a good place to start.Follow @icinthedark