I got a good one for you guys today! Everybody loves pizza, so this one is for sure a crowd pleaser. Plus, it’s 100% whole wheat, so the health-conscious people can be happy, too.
But first, I have to give you a quick update on my weekend. Now that it’s finally nice out and summer is officially here (in my opinion), my weekends are filling up with fun things, unlike the winter when it seemed like nothing was really happening (besides it snowing daily). So, in other words, get ready for some regular updates!
I headed back to the heart of the Midwest—Iowa—to see family for the weekend. It was beautiful (and hot) weather. Of course, that meant another trip to DQ for me. #everythinginmoderation
My aunt and uncle (the ones that introduced me to this quiche) made the trip to my parents’ house and we had a fun day of playing games, eating, and catching up since it had been way too long since I’d seen them.
It was a fun weekend, but it sure was nice coming back home again and getting outside
between during scattered rain showers to catch Philip up on my weekend.
So anyway, back to the recipe that I know you’re eagerly waiting for. :)
This pizza crust recipe is a family favorite—for Philip and myself, but also for my brother’s family. My sister-in-law is the one who originally gave me this recipe several years ago and it has been my go-to pizza crust recipe ever since. It’s simple, fast, and delicious—could I ask for anything more?
Well, I wanted to make it just a tad healthier. I originally used to make the crust with half whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose (switching out all-purpose for all whole wheat won’t really work for breads or baked products, because the protein content is all off). There’s nothing wrong with using half whole-wheat flour (I’d even recommend it normally), but I thought I’d see how the pizza tasted with 100% white whole wheat flour. This stuff is great, if you haven’t ventured to try it (any brand will do!). It’s whole wheat flour, so you get all the nutritional benefits of the bran, germ, and endosperm, but it has all the properties of a white flour. Plus, it doesn’t give that “whole wheat” taste, which I absolutely love about it. You can easily trick people into eating whole wheat!
Another quick “dietitian tip”: Always look for the whole grain yellow stamp on products. It lets you know there are whole grains in the product. This white whole wheat flour has 30 grams of whole grains, which is great. You may have heard the saying, “make half your grains whole”…well, in numbers that’s 48 grams total. 16 grams of a whole grain is a serving and we need at least 3 servings of whole grains in a day…making a grand total of 48 grams! To make your day even better (and to make this dietitian so proud), the remaining 3 servings you need (the other half of your grains) can also be whole grain which takes you well over 48 grams in a day.
This dough has so few ingredients, it’s easy to whip up on the fly. It’s best to let it rest for about 20 minutes before rolling it out, but that’s just when I cut up all the toppings and get everything prepped. Lately, though, I’ve been making the dough a day or two ahead of time, wrapping it in Saran Wrap, and putting it the fridge. It makes it easy on a week night for me to pull it out and literally have pizza in the oven in 15 minutes. I’m all about efficiency these days. :)
Ever wondered how to get extra crispy crust like you would at a restaurant? Well, I think Philip and I have finally mastered how…as well as the easiest way to do it. If you have a pizza stone, use that. If you don’t, well, I think you should invest in one. :) As far in advance as you can, preheat the oven with the stone on a middle rack so it can get nice and hot. The last 10 minutes before you put the pizza into the oven, move the rack up and turn the oven to “broiler.” This will help get the stone extra hot, which is what you want if you’re looking for a crispy crust. Move the rack back down and the oven off of broiler when you put the pizza in the oven.
Now, how do you get the pizza onto the stone? Good question…we’ve struggled with this plenty of times. Usually our pizza ends up looking like it fell on the floor by the time we get it onto the stone (if we get it onto the stone). We have a solution, thanks to America’s Test Kitchen! Prepare the pizza on parchment paper (NOT wax paper! Whatever you do, don’t do that..it’ll melt everywhere in the oven), making the transfer from counter to pizza peel to oven really slick and painless. No pizza peel (we’re serious about pizza, if you can’t tell…almost as serious as my Homemade Cinnamon Granola), no worries. You can also use the bottom of a baking sheet to transfer the pizza.
Whew, now that the crust is all figured out, it’s time to focus on the toppings. To me, the most important part in creating a great tasting pizza is to use whole, good quality ingredients. Sure, you can use pre-shredded mozzarella in the bag, but you can’t beat using fresh-pulled mozzarella and fresh basil. The taste is seriously out of this world. Sometimes it’s just worth to splurge a little bit, and this is one of those times.
Since I’m using all these fresh ingredients, I don’t want to cover it up, so I stick with a really simple sauce—crushed tomatoes. Yep, that’s it. Plus, it’s healthier than getting the pizza sauce in the can—just one ingredient on the label. Spoon on the amount of sauce you want onto the crust and then sprinkle just a 1/2 teaspoon or so of sugar over top of the tomatoes, since they can have a bitter taste to them. Sauce is done.
You can top the pizza with really whatever you like. Sometimes we keep it simple with just the mozzarella and basil for more of a Margherita pizza, but other times I’ll chop up some pepper, onion, or other vegetables to add on top. And yes, those are some turkey pepperoni added to half the pizza. The pizza is technically split in half for his and hers side, but I’d be lying if I didn’t go over the “line” a little bit so I could have some pepperoni on my side, too.
With the toppings on, it’s time for the oven! It doesn’t take long, since it practically starts browning as soon as it hits the stone. In 10 minutes, you’ll have a delicious, homemade pizza you can be happy about eating. And seriously, this pizza is so fresh and tasty! It won’t make you feel like you just had a heavy, cheese-laden pizza, either. Philip and I had this recently and all conversation stopped as soon as we bit into our pieces…it was one of those close-your-eyes-it’s-so-tasty kind of good. Just remember—quality ingredients and a hot oven make the pizza!
Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza with Fresh Basil & Mozzarella
- 1 tsp yeast
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup hot tap water
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups white whole wheat flour, divided
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Crushed tomatoes
- Italian Seasoning
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Fresh basil leaves
- Toppings of choice (chopped onion, peppers, olives, pepperoni, ground beef, sausage, etc)
- Preheat oven to 450° with pizza stone warming in the oven. Ten minutes before pizza is ready for the oven, move rack with stone up to the top shelf and turn oven to broil. Before putting the pizza into the oven, return the rack to the middle and turn the oven back to 450°.
- To prepare the dough, dissolve the yeast, black pepper, sugar, and salt in the hot tap water.
- Add 3/4 cup of the flour to the mixture. Add the oil and stir until smooth and glossy. Gradually add the remaining flour (you may only need another 1/2 cup, or up to 1 1/4 cups).
- As it gets thicker, flour the counter and knead the dough until it’s a solid consistency. Let it rise for about 20 minutes on the counter as you prepare the other ingredients (this is also when you can wrap the dough in Saran wrap to store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the pizza).
- Once it has risen, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness, or to desired thickness. Lift the pizza dough onto parchment paper before adding on the sauce and toppings.
- Spoon your desired amount of plain, crushed tomatoes on top of the dough. Sprinkle with a light dusting of sugar (about a 1/2 teaspoon) over the crushed tomatoes. Sprinkle desired seasonings on top of the sauce. I like to use Italian seasoning and fresh or dried oregano, depending on what I have on hand.
- Shred fresh mozzarella and chop fresh basil. Top pizza with desired ingredients and finish by topping with the cheese and basil.
- Transfer the topped pizza (with the parchment paper still underneath) onto a pizza peel or the bottom of a cookie sheet/baking pan. Carefully transfer the pizza from the peel onto the stone.
- Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy along the edges.
I couldn’t resist adding this picture in. While prepping the “photo shoot,” I commented to Philip that my garnish looked “kind of wimpy.” He went straight to work and improved the “wimpy basil” with a stem and turned it into this. I don’t know why it cracked me up so much, but I thought it was only appropriate to leave it in the pictures. :)