I’ve mentioned before that I’m a competitive little bugger right?
So I entered a contest being hosted by Hodgson Mill to “Build a Better Pizza”. They were looking for a healthy pizza to showcase their whole wheat flour.
My first thought…”My husband and kids HATE, with a capital H, whole wheat pizza!
I figured, if I could win THEIR vote, then I had created a good pizza! So first I set out to design a crust…. The contest rules stated the crust had to be made with at least 50% whole wheat.
Most people who say they hate whole wheat crust, associate it with a dense and overly chewy crust. I was going to change that.
Over a couple of weeks, and lots of dishes, I created a balance between their whole wheat and organic unbleached flour. I was looking for a thin crust, to avoid anything too chewy. I wanted a cracker crisp edge that gave way to just a slightly thicker center to support the toppings.
At last…with a blend of 60/40 and a double rise, I was happy with the crust! Then I stewed over the toppings…. When someone asks me to “Build a Better (Healthy) Pizza”, I don’t take that to mean they JUST want a healthy crust. But man o man…If I hadn’t already lost my family on the crust, did I really want to push it and add healthy toppings as well? Did I really want to take away their pepperoni and sausage?
I ditched the meat altogether and decided to showcase farm fresh produce and quality cheese. (I was a glutton for punishment)
Caprese salad came to mind…which I adore for its freshness and the impeccable quality of the tomatoes. What a perfect way to top this pizza.
Now sauce…I’ve made a roasted marinara for years and years now and I just KNEW it would work here! That was an easy one. I added some of my favorite wine, Cline Zinfandel, to the marinara because 1.) It lends an amazing flavor to the reduced marinara and 2.) I got to open a bottle and have a glass of wine while I cooked.
*FYI, it’s October and Breast Cancer Awareness month… Cline makes a Cashmere wine that sports the pink ribbon on the bottle and was introduced in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. Cline has contributed more than $200,000 to breast cancer foundations and makes me proud to support their company.*
*Disclaimer…Cline Cellars has no clue I’m writing this and I am not being rewarded in any way from their company. I just love them….The End
Back to my pizza….I had spent a couple of weeks perfecting the crust, decided on the toppings, and had brought my marinara to the gates of heaven. Now to put them all together!
Let me show you how I rolled this out (pun intended)
8 oz. Hodgson Mill whole wheat flour (chilled)
6.7 oz. Hodgon Mill unbleached white flour (chilled)
10 oz. + 1 Tbl + 2 tsp. water (between 105-115 degrees)
1 pkg. Hodgon Mill active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
24 oz. container small tomatoes (I use the tri color)
large bulb of garlic, cloves removed and peeled
1/2 large white onion, rough chopped into medium size chunks
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1/3 cup good red wine (I used Cline Zinfandel)
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 lb. fontina cheese, shredded
2 heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced (I used a dark purple and a yellow/red)
fresh basil, torn
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle on finished pizza
Start by weighing out your flour. Weighing gives you the most accurate measure and is how I measure for the majority of my baking. Combine the two flours and place in the refrigerator to get very cold. (at least an hour)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Place the container of tomatoes, garlic cloves, and rough chopped onion into a 9×13 casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and toss until everything is coated in the oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
When your oven is heated, place the tomato mixture inside and roast for 45 minutes. When it’s done, the tomatoes will have just a little char around the edges and they will have released some of their juices. The color is what you want…It should look like this….
Dump the mixture, and all juices from the dish, into a large glass bowl. Use an immersion blender to slightly puree the mixture. It’s perfectly fine to have a few chucks remaining. (If you don’t have an immersion blender you can do this in the blender as well.)
Dump the sauce into a large saute pan and throw in the bunch of thyme.
Place over low heat and add the red wine, sugar and pinch of kosher. Stir to combine, then let it slowly bubble away until reduced. There should be very little to no liquid and it should be the consistency of tomato paste. (This will take 1-2 hours) Set aside.
For the dough: Weigh out the water (105-115 degrees) and add the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar to the water. Let the yeast proof in the water for 5 minutes, or until nice and foamy.
While the yeast is proofing, mix together 1/2 tablespoon of kosher and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Grab your flour from the fridge and place nearby.
I used my food processor with its dough hook for this process and had great results.
Add your yeast mixture into the bowl of the food processor. Dump in half of the flour blend then begin mixing your dough with quick pulses. Add the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time, with quick pulses in between additions, until the dough just begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If you still have flour remaining, that’s OK ..Don’t keep adding or your dough will be too stiff and not rise correctly. Add the kosher and oil mixture and pulse a few more times.
(It’s times like these I wish for an extra set of hands so that I had all the pictures that I wanted to take but didn’t)
Flour a work surface and dump the dough out. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough only for about a minute. You do NOT want to overwork the dough. Add flour to your surface as needed.
Shape into a ball and place in a large glass bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top and rotate the dough until the bowl and dough are covered in oil.
Place plastic wrap over the top and set in a warm area to rise for an hour.
After that first rise, punch the dough down and cut into 3 equal portions. With slightly wet hands, roll each portion into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Cover each dough ball with a towel and let rise for an additional hour.
While the dough is completing its 2nd rise…Move an oven rack into the UPPER MOST position. Place a pizza stone on that rack and preheat your oven as high as it will go. Mine is 500 degrees. You’ll want to have that stone heating for at least 45 minutes! Both the placement of the rack and the preheating of the stove are SUPER important. The rack placement ensures even cooking of the crust and toppings. It’s an air circulation formula that I won’t bore you with, but with less room between the pizza and the top of the oven, the hot air travels quickly between pizza and oven and back down again, creating a fantastic crisp crust and toppings that have been kissed with just the right amount of browning. (I’m a food geek…did ya know?)
After the dough rising and stone heating have happened…Cover a pizza peel in cornmeal or semolina. This allows the pizza to slide right off the peel and onto the hot stone.
Grab one portion of dough and place on the peel. Lightly dust the top of the pizza with flour and roll thin using a rolling-pin. Start from the center and gently roll out to the edges…no back and forth rolling!
When the pizza is rolled out, give the peel a good shake back and forth to release the dough. Make sure the dough is sliding back and forth. If you need to, lift the edges of the dough and add a little more cornmeal or semolina to ensure easy sliding.
Brush a little olive oil around the edge of the crust, making sure not to dribble a bunch on the peel or it will make your pizza stick. I added a little sprinkle of granulated garlic on top of the oil…just for good measure! The oil will help make that crisp edge that gets that slight char that all GREAT pizzerias are known for.
Spread the crust with the marinara, to about 1/2 inch of the edge.
Sprinkle with fontina cheese, which is my melty cheese of choice for pizzas.
Arrange the heirloom tomato slices on top of the cheese.
Scatter some chunks of fresh mozzarella on top.
If you think it looks pretty now….just wait!
Since there is so little room between the pizza stone and the top of the oven, you’ll have to be careful when transferring the pizza to the stone. The last thing you want is for the pizza to touch the top of the oven…it’s a mess.
To avoid this, slide your pizza peel over top of the stone until it’s about halfway into the oven. Gently shake the pizza off the peel and pull the peel back as you go. You’ll notice the crust starts to bubble and steam immediately. Perfection!
Allow the pizza to cook for 5-8 minutes depending on your oven temperature. Using tongs, spin your pizza around about halfway through the cooking time.
You’re looking for a golden crust with some of the fabulous lightly charred bubbles, and toppings that are slightly browned with nicely melted cheese. When you have that, pull the pizza back onto your peel using the tongs.
Let the pizza cool for a minute or two, the top with the torn basil and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Now folks…I ain’t lyin’! This is the real deal holyfield right here!
My family gathered ’round….they were prepared to HATE it. I smirked at their preconceived notions and urged them to take a slice.
My 10 year-old said it was the best crust ever ( I didn’t tell him it was whole wheat…he’s by far my most picky child)
My 17 year-old asked for his own pizza….MADE JUST LIKE THE ONE HE JUST TASTED (I had to tease…what no pepperoni and sausage?)
My husband raved and said it was fantastic! He’s not a picky person and loves unique toppings…He DID hate whole wheat crust…. D I D (past tense)
All in all, this was a success!
Regardless of the outcome of the contest, I’m super proud of this pizza and will be making it often!
I’ll be posting information on how to vote for my Caprese Pizza in the next couple of days and would GREATLY appreciate your support
Don’t forget…Hodgson Mill is letting me give away a prize package valued at $25 to one of my lucky followers…you can enter to win here:
Modern Mrs. Cleaver