|Trying out the ‘soft’ look here|
I have deviated, but anyway, on the dinner table, in addition to the yummy chinese dishes that our mothers and aunties would cook, would be pizza. We would order from the usual delivery company, and as young kids, pizza was the first thing we had (or wanted), well, maybe after the fried chicken or wantons and fries, followed by the meehoon and everything else. I vaguely remember having turkey and ham on some years, but pizza was always there. So using that fond memory of mine, I’ve decided to glamorize and upgrade the pizza. My favorite used to be plain ol’ pepperoni, and as we all know, pizza doughs are typically made of normal white flour. Here, I have ‘healthified’ the pizza by using a wholemeal crust (which is so much more flavorful) and using the freshest ingredients where possible. I have to admit that if you were to compare the cost of making this pizza (plus the effort and planning required) to picking up the phone and ordering, the latter would be the far easier choice. I spent a bomb getting gourmet Italian spicy pepperoni, a block of parmesan cheese, mozzarella (I stinged here so I didn’t get buffalo mozzarella). For the basil pesto, I bought a huge bunch of fresh basil and pine nuts. It is not counting the cost of the good quality Italian olive oil I used in the pizza and pesto. And not forgetting the cost of the organic whole meal flour I used. But hey, it was healthy and yummy, so well worth the splurge :]
- Wholemeal pizza dough (recipe below)
- Basil pesto sauce (recipe below) or a tomato based sauce
- Any other toppings you like - I used the following:
- Shredded Mozzarella cheese
- Shaved Parmesan cheese
- (not pictured, on another pizza) White onions and portobello mushrooms
Wholemeal Pizza Dough
Use all the Biga and Soaker
- Remove the biga and soaker 2 hours before. Once they are about room temperature, using a scraper or a knife, roughly chop both doughs together into 12 pieces each.
- Place the dough pieces into a large bowl. Add in the flour, salt, yeast, honey and olive oil to the dough. Wet your hands with water and knead for 5 minutes until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. You may also use a bread machine or a stand mixer with a dough hook to do the mixing. The dough should be slightly sticky and a little soft.
- Flour your work surface generously and roll out the pizza dough on it. Knead the dough for a further 5 minutes, using only as much flour as you need. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. This allows you to give your arms a rest, although it’s mainly to allow the gluten to relax. Knead the dough again for a few minutes until you get a tacky dough. At this point, the dough should pass the windowpane test. Divide the dough into 5 (or more) pieces and form each piece into a tight ball.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and oil it with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Place the balls on the parchment paper, making sure to roll the balls around to coat them in the olive oil. Cover the baking sheet loosely and allow the dough to rise for about an hour, or until it doubles in size (about 1.5 times is okay as well).
- Preheat the oven to the maximum temperature (I used 220ºC fan forced) and adjust the rack to middle position.
- Place one ball of dough on your floured work surface and using a rolling pin, roll the ball out into a 12-inch diameter disk or your desired size. I rolled the dough to about 8 inches, let it rest for a minute and shrink a little, before using my fingers to further expand the dough to about 10 inches.
- Place the dough onto a lined baking sheet (or pizza stone if you have) and top it with your desired ingredients. I topped it with a generous amount of pesto, followed by pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. On the other pizzas, I added sliced mushrooms and onions as well. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Remove from the oven and quickly shave the parmesan cheese onto the pizza.
- Let the pizza cool and rest for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Repeat steps 6-8 for the remaining balls of dough.
Makes a cup of pesto, sufficient for all the pizza doughs above.
2 cups (60g) fresh basil leaves, packed
½ cup (90g) freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
½ cup (100g) extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Special equipment needed: A food processor or chopper.
- Peel the garlic and place it in the food processor. Pulse it a few times to mince it.
- Wash the basil and combine it with the pine nuts in the food processor. Pulse them a few times.
- Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is on. You may have to stop to scrape down the sides of the processor with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are evenly blended.
- Add the grated cheese and pulse again, until all the ingredients are blended. You can blend longer if you want a smoother paste. I wanted a chunkier paste so I pulsed for less than 15 seconds in total.
- Add a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Taste: As I mentioned earlier, taste was fantastic. On its own, the pizza dough was so flavorful and so chewy that I literally ate it on its own (as a flatbread) the next day. With the same dough, I also used the traditional tomato version (not pictured because it was all gobbled up), as well as a dessert version (also not pictured because there was none left to photograph – it was a combination of balsamic vinegar, arugula, goat’s cheese, figs and honey – a perfect sweet dessert pizza). And yes, I used the exact same ingredients on the dessert pizza as in my salad which I posted earlier.
- Texture: I absolutely loved the pizza. It was the right amount of chewy (not too chewy) and you could vary the chewiness through the thickness of the pizza. I made thin crust versions for a crispier base as well as thicker versions with thicker cornicones, which of course were more chewy.
- Serving size: The amount of pizzas I got from the recipe was more than enough to feed my family of five. In fact, I had 2 personal sized pizza doughs leftover, which I baked plain for the next day’s breakfast. I dipped them in olive oil and balsamic vinegar :]
- Modifications: I wouldn’t change anything about the pizza dough recipe, but I would definitely decrease the amount of olive oil used in the basil pesto because I found it a little too oily for my liking, even though I had decreased the oil in mine to 70g already. You should err on the side of less oil because if you are going to use it on the pizza anyway, you could drizzle some olive oil on top of the pesto if you find it a little too dry.
- Storage: You can store the unbaked doughs for up to three days in the fridge, but I would strongly advise you to make all the doughs, and partially bake them, plain, for about 5 minutes in the oven before removing them to cool and storing them in the freezer. You then have readymade wholemeal crusts for whenever you wish to eat pizza!
- Would I make this again?: Definitely! Although this is the first time I’ve tried making Peter Reinhart’s wholemeal version, this is definitely not my first time making homemade pizza dough. His recipes are my to-go-to for any artisan breads :]
I have to admit that these are not the best photos I’ve taken, but in my defense, I was very hungry and it was dinner (yes I have dinner at 6plus pm so it’s still bright), so there was barely enough time to photograph the pizza before we dug in (although this was the third one after the tomato based pizzas). In fact, I’m surprised the steam was not visible in the pictures because seriously, the pizza was piping hot! Nevertheless, I am submitting this to the Christmas Giveaway in The Sweet Spot. The giveaway closes on 11 December, so you might be a little short of time when you see this post, but do try to join in if you can! Anything green or red will qualify! :]