pizza (& a 10k)

D and I ran the Presidio 10k this morning… 6.2 miles of fun. Honestly though, it is really fun. It was our second time doing this race – last year was much sunnier, but I actually liked the coolness of today, and it paid off – I took over a minute of my time! Score!

This is my week to host the Food Matters Project, and I chose the No Work Mostly Whole Wheat Pizza Dough and Topping Pizza, the Food Matters Way. I’ve been wanting to try making pizza dough for a while now, but didn’t want all the fuss – this seemed like the perfect solution.  And it was a great choice for carb-loading on Saturday night before the race!

The recipe seemed easy enough… mix active yeast, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and warm water together (I also added a tablespoon of olive oil) and then you let it rise for 6-12 hours.

This is where I messed up, I didn’t read the recipe fully so my dough only rose for maybe 2 hours.  Oopsie!

See? It rose a little, but I think it would have been much better had I left it all day.

Anyways, I took my two hour dough, rolled it as think as possible (really easy to roll actually, not like regular dough) and topped with my favorite pizza toppings… tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and a sprinkling of pecorino. I’m a purist, what can I say?

I then baked it for about 15 minutes, till the cheese was bubbling and the crust was crispy, then I tore some fresh basil and ground some fresh pepper on top.

It was decent, especially considering my lack of rise time.  I should have used a pizza stone for this one though… the center of the dough wasn’t crispy enough for my liking (I did put a bit too much mozzarella on though), but the dough had a pleasant taste and wasn’t overpoweringly ‘whole wheat’ like.

Here’s the thing though. I wasn’t so sure about my skills with dough-making, so I bought a backup at Whole Foods – their pre-made regular pizza dough.  I couldn’t let us starve, you know! I was worried about the fact that I was giving the whole wheat dough no time to rise, but at least I was more adventurous with the toppings! For my “cheats” pizza I decided to try to recreate a seriously awesome pizza we had at Cotogna – I topped it with some garlic sautéed asparagus, olive oil, a really amazing fontina, and lots of pecorino romano and ground black pepper. Sadly, there was no comparison between this one and Mr. Bittman’s. The regular dough was crispy the whole way through and got nice and bubbly on top. Plus the combination of cheeses and sautéed asparagus was so good. Most likely in the future I’ll use the WF dough, and then try different variations of The Food Matters toppings… I’d like to try one with caramelized onions and ricotta salata.

Even though I cheated a bit, the pizza on Saturday night was the perfect fuel for the race today. And the asparagus/pecorino/fontina combo is definitely here to stay. So good. I’m really excited to see how the rest of the Food Matters Project members did, because I’m sure they prepared better than me and actually let their dough rise the correct amount of time!

No-Work Mostly Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

(makes 1 large or 2 small pizzas / 8-14 hours, almost entirely unattended)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing

1.  Combine the flours, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water (I used warm water and also added in 1 tbsp olive oil).  The dough should be relatively sticky and wet, like biscuit batter.  If not, add a little more water.

2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover, and put it in a warm spot. Let the dough sit for at least 6 or up to 12 hours. (The longer it ferments, the more complex the flavor.)

3.  When you’re ready, heat the oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone put it in the oven at the same time so it can preheat as well. If not, generously oil a baking sheet or large ovenproof skillet. Dust your hands with a little white flour and fold the dough over in the bowl a few times. It will be sticky, but resist the urge to use too much flour; dust your hands again only when absolutely necessary and use a light, gentle touch. If you’re making small pizzas, divide the dough in half or quarters. Gently press the dough into the skillet or onto the baking sheet; it’s not important that the pizzas be perfectly round, but you do want to be careful not to tear the dough.  Note that pizza dough freezes really well; after dividing it, just wrap it tightly and use it within a couple of months.

4. Brush or drizzle the top of the pizza or pizzas with 2 tablespoons oil, cover, and let sit while you get your toppings together, but no more than 60 minutes or so.

5. Top with your favorite Food Matters Way Toppings (see below) and cook for 8-12 minutes.

Crunchy No-Work Mostly Whole Wheat Pizza Dough: Substitute 1/2 cup cornmeal (fine or medium grind) for 1/2 cup of the whole wheat flour.

Herbed No-Work Mostly Whole Wheat Pizza Dough: This works of the main recipe or the variation above. Add 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano, or tarragon, or 1 tsp dried, to the dry ingredients at the beginning of Step 1.

Topping Pizza, the Food Matters Way

Go easy: Overloading your pizza makes the crust doughy and often underdone.

-All-Purpose Tomato Sauce
-Herb Pesto
-Cooked Mushrooms
-Caramelized onions with fresh thyme or rosemary
-Roasted garlic
-Sun-dried Tomatoes, soaked in hot water and drained
-Chopped, pitted oil-packed black olives
-Chopped marinated artichoke hearts or baby artichokes
-Spoonful of capers
-Chopped anchovies or sardines
-Sliced fresh tomatoes
-Thinly sliced fennel
-Parboiled broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts, drained
-Sautéed spinach, chard, or kale
-Sliced cooked waxy potatoes or sweet potatoes
-Grilled or broiled eggplant or zucchini
-Lightly mashed beans: black beans with chopped chipotle chiles or salsa, white beans with walnut oil and lemon juice, chickpeas with tahini…
-Smear of fresh ricotta or creme fraiche
-Crumbled goat cheese
-Sliced Fresh Mozzarella

Ingredients to Put On After Baking

-A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, flavored olive oil, nut oil, or sesame oil
-Chopped fresh basil, mint, or cilantro
-Shaved Parmesan, grated ricotta salata, or crumbled feta
-Freshly ground black pepper
-Baby spinach, arugula, or macho, tossed with a little olive oil
-Sliced hard-boiled eggs (or raw eggs, broken over the pizza and broiled for the last 2 minutes of baking time)
-Toasted pinenuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds…

 Are Mark Bittman’s recipe names driving anyone else nuts?

A little creativity wouldn’t kill him!!

Also, our very own Kate (of Cookie + Kate, one of my favorite blogs!) has been nominated for Best Cooking Blog in the Saveur Best Food Blog Awards of 2012! You should check her out and give her a vote if you have a moment!

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59 thoughts on “pizza (& a 10k)

  1. That run looked fun… Except for the looming clouds! I have to say, the first time I made this dough I had too much water and the middle was soggy. Tonight, it somehow just went smoothly. After seeing how cheesy yours looks, I wish I added more mozzarella. I was being too stingy because I already had some cheese in the pesto.

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  5. Thanks for picking pizza dough. It was my first experience with it. I too “mis-read” a bit and used the whole recipe for a small-medium pizza, not a large one so I had very thick crust. Still tasty but, oops!

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  9. Hi Niki! I actually loved this pizza and it has been one of our favorite Bittman recipes to date. Maybe if you let your dough rise enough you’ll like it better next time. I wish I had my pizza stone to cook it on too, but it’s still on its way here (we just moved). Thanks for choosing a great recipe!

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  13. I’ve been wanting a pizza stone for awhile now, and after making this recipe I think I will be making that purchase much sooner than later. The toppings for your second pizza sound incredible, I put asparagus on my pizza too but it certainly wasn’t so fancy :-). Great choice of recipe Niki!

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  17. Your pizza is so cheesy! Yum! I think we only let ours rest for about 5 1/2 hours, and that was fine. There are many recipes out there that don’t require for it to stand that long- you should check it out before you buy your next WF dough. Thanks for a great recipe!

    And congrats on the run, sounds like the weather was perfect!

  18. congrats on the PR! there’s no better feeling than improvement…and knowing you earned the right to stuff yourself with delicious pizza! :)

  19. “You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.”
    ― Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

  20. This was such a fun recipe, thanks for picking!! I also didn’t realize the time it took dough to rise (seriously, who knew!) so I posted it today. Worth the wait!!!

    Congrats on your run!

  21. Thank you so much for picking such a fantastic recipe, Niki! I had been looking forward to this recipe for a while, and based on the response from our members, they were, too! I love seeing everyone’s variations and hearing their opinions of Bittman’s dough. Thank you for encouraging your visitors to vote, too. I really appreciate it!

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  26. Nice recipe choice Niki! I too confronted a couple a couple of setbacks with my dough; but in the end it’s really hard to make a bad pizza! Congrats on the run!

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  31. I would like to try this pizza dough recipe, but I’m wondering how many tbsps of olive oil you actually use. Your recipe lists 2 tbsp, but the instructions say 1 tbsp. Also, how warm do you make the water? Thanks…appreciate it! : )

    • Hi Cyndi!

      Sorry I wasn’t more clear – I added 1 tbsp of extra olive oil to the warm water, and then brushed two tbsps of olive oil over the dough before baking. The water was a bit warmer than room temperature, but not so hot that it was boiling. Hope this helps, thanks!

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