Saturday, February 2, 2008

Better than Domino's Pizza

There's nothing better than homemade pizza. Pizza is a simple food. And simple food is extraordinary. The trick to making great pizza is to just lightly dress it with toppings. If you load them on the crust cannot bake properly and you end up with a soggy mess. I like to add just a little bit of something that is really really flavorful. This could be some outstanding ham or some really sharp flavorful cheese. Last evening I made a pizza with just artichoke hearts and kalamata olives. The olives are packed with salty flavor that really makes this pizza. I just used a jarred spaghetti sauce that I flavored with some dried oregano and basil. This just lightly coated the crust. Mozzarella cheese lightly sprinkled on top brought it all together.

The number one most important thing about pizza is the crust. My standard crust consists of yeast or a sourdough starter, all purpose flour, water, salt, and olive oil. The oil makes for a softer dough. This pizza, however, was made with 100% whole wheat flour and a whole wheat sourdough starter. I am making a whole grain bread this weekend (to be posted later) so I had a starter that I was feeding. I used about 1/2 cup of the sourdough starter and a couple cups of whole wheat flour. This was mixed together with some water to make a wet dough. I let this rise in the refrigerator over night. The dough was taken out around 3:00 in the afternoon to let it continue rising at room temperature. Whole wheat flour makes for a dough that is not as stretchy as a white flour dough because there is less gluten and the whole wheat hulls tend to cut the gluten strands. So you have to be careful with this. I patted this out into a pizza shape and topped it up with the toppings described above. This went into a 500F oven on my pizza stone to bake until nicely brown and bubbling - about 8 minutes.

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