Have you ever baked a pizza for yourself? If not yet, then you must try it soon. You will find yourself in complete blissful existence of soft and crisp crust bursting with an explosion of flavours, charred veggies that exude a smoky aroma with every bite and soft cushioned bed of cheese that will melt your heart at every mouthful. If that is not complete nirvana, then what it is?
No, pizzas are not junk food. They are comfort food, mood food and soul food. The perfect way to boost up your spirit on a gloomy monsoon days , is to bake a pizza for yourself. And in no time your kitchen will be beautifully perfumed with flavours of herbs, yeast, cheese and garlic. With drizzles of extra virgin olive oil, handful of dried and fresh herbs and cheese, each pizza is a beauty in itself. You as a chef / home cook must bestow it with its individual characteristics. Each pizza is unique in character and identity.
Pizzas are great mood uplifter, for all seasons and for all reasons. Pizzas are here to stay, forever.
I love pizza, fresh homemade ones. Check my Hawaiian ham and pineapple pizza recipe here. Artisan ones too if it is build with great care and love. Yes, you must pour in all your love while baking a pizza. When you serve food to someone, you also serve your attitude. Its the absolute truth.
Baking, and more precisely bread baking is an excellent therapy. For happy mind and for happy heart too. If you know how to turn those baked delicacies into wholesome experiences. Like this wholewheat pizza. I have baked a complete 100% wholewheat pizza too. It’s not implausible or dream. Its a reality, a possibility. If pizzas are weekly affair at your house, I would strongly suggest that you should learn how to bake a wholewheat pizza for yourself. But at the same time, you have to treat your wholewheat pizza as a different individual, a special case, you can not compare it with the commercial ones. It will taste good, but will not be that luxuriant and soft. If you can adjust with the texture, you sure can enjoy pizza whenever you crave for. Without any guilt.
I have been baking pizzas at home for years now and also recently has started to take orders from those who want a bite of fresh homemade pizzas. Here is my mini guide to bake an ultimate pizza for yourself –
Flour / Pizza dough – is important. And most important is flour ratio. After experimenting with all the combinations, I have arrived at mixed flour ratio of 50% combination. You can go further with 60-40 ratio too. Love thy dough! Knead them very well. It will helps to tone your muscles and for beautifully sculpted arms.
Veggies, chicken, meat or sausages – your choice. But always add enough veggies to your pizza. I will suggest overload your pizza with veggies. A good and healthy way to include roasted veggies in your kids diet. In some case, little preparations are needed beforehand.
Pizza sauce – you must make this at your home. You will realize how much it taste better than the store-bought ones. No additives, no preservatives, no chemicals and compounds that sounds meaningless to us.
Cheese – the unhealthy part. Really? You can always control the portion if you bake it for yourself. But then who tells you that you can not enjoy your pizza without those stringy mozzarella? Think beyond mozzarella and there are range of cheese you can use on your pizza. Or if you are a pizza purist at heart and still want to enjoy pizza without guilt, be little flexible and think about in numerous combinations of cheddar, Monterey jack, gouda and even Parmesan too. For most of the time, I use a combination of mozzarella and gouda for my veg pizza and cheddar for my non-veg pizza. Also, since pizzas are highly personalized food, you can always cut down on the cheese. My pizzas are not “cheese-show stoppers”. Just it is there in right amount we can handle.
Seasonings ,dried and fresh herbs – It makes all the differences to each pizza. I am a garlic lover and I love to brush my pizza with garlic infused oil. Oregano, parsley , basil (both fresh and dried ones) are good too.
Experimental Pizza – you are limited by your own imaginations. The dough is your canvas, go and paint your dreams on it.
Few Tips For Making Excellent Pizza At Home –
- Knead the dough very well for good 10 minutes. Kneading develops gluten which will gives a structure to your baked goodies. Pizza dough will become pliable and easy to stretch out.
- Never roll out the pizza dough with rolling pins. Instead spread the pizza dough with your hand and shape it as you go.
- Use a pizza stone or a metal sheet or flat pans to bake a pizza.
- Never overload your pizza with toppings. Keep it light. Also do not drench the pizza in pizza sauce. A light brushing of pizza sauce on the base is all we are looking for.
- Cold fermentation gives better flavour and texture.
- Mix flour dough (all purpose flour mix with high protein bread flour) yields better results.
- Hydration or water content is another important factor that can completely change the characteristic of your pizza crust. Water absorption power of each flour type is different. Hence try experimenting with the variable water amount that suits your flour types. Hydration usually between 60-70 % yields lighter and crisper crust.
- Whole wheat flour : 1 cup
- All purpose flour : 1 cup
- Salt : 1/2 tsp
- Yeast active dry : 2 tsp
- Sugar : 2 tsp
- Olive oil : 1 tbsp
- Cheese optional : 1 tsp
- Warm water : 1 1/2 cup +
- Finely Chopped Onions : 1 cup
- Tomato puree : 2 cups
- Garlic minced: 2 tbsp
- Fresh or dried herbs : Basil / oregano
- Red pepper flakes : 1 tbsp
- Back pepper : a generous shower
- Extra virgin Olive oil : 2 tbsp
- Butter: 1 small cube
- Cheeese shredded : a large pinch , optional
- Balsamic vinegar ; 1 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Sugar white or brown : 2 tbsp or as per taste
- Veggies of your choice:
- Sliced onions sliced mushrooms, sliced capsicums (red, green), sliced baby corns, sliced tomatoes
- Cheese : mix of mozzarella and gouda or cheddar shredded
- Pizza seasonings and dried oregano
- Semolina : 2tbsp
- Pizza plate : 1
- Sift the wholewheat and all purpose flour two three times separately and then measure it.
- Mix it with salt and leave aside for 15 minutes.
- Dissolve a two teaspoon active dried yeast in a cup with lukewarm water (you can use milk too) and one teaspoon sugar. Leave aside in a drought free area which is warm (I keep it inside my microwave ) for 10 minutes.
- Yeast will become foamy after 10 minutes, add that immediately to the flour mix.
- Add rest of the ingredients listed under pizza dough except water and mix it very well.
- Start kneading the dough with little water at a time and add as you go.
- I generally use 60% hydration but if you want you can go further up.
- Knead the dough well using your fingers and heels of your palms for good 10 minutes.Dough will be little sticky.
- Apply olive oil over it, place in a big bowl, cover tightly with cling wrap or kitchen towel and let it rest for one hour in a warm place. (I keep it inside my microwave oven, when it is not in use).
- After one hour, dough will double or triple in volume. Refer the picture.
- Punch down the dough with your hand and expel all the air trapped inside it.
- Knead it for another 5 minute and let it rest. Always keep the dough covered.
- Preheat the oven to maximum heat, mine is 220C.
- Dust the work surface with flour. Flatten the dough with your hand and then hold the dough upright and start stretching the dough with your hand, gently rotating all sides.
- You can refer to youtube videos on - how to hand toss pizza dough
- If the dough is kneaded well, it wont break or will have cracks.
- Lightly grease a pizza pan with lip and sprinkle semolina over it.
- Place the stretched out dough over it and start pushing the dough gently to the sides of the pan.
- One technique to do is - make indentations on the pizza dough with your index fingers and start stretching the dough to cover the base and sides of the pan.
- Make deep indentations near the edge of the pan, so that the sides or lip of pizza will hold its shape.
- Using a barbecue brush gently apply the pizza sauce all over the base in thick layer. Make sure not to make it soggy.
- Blast the pizza in the preheated oven for 10 minute. You need to adjust this time as per your oven settings.
- Take out the pizza from the oven.
- First place and sprinkle the cheese all over the base.
- Quickly place all the veggies. Do not overload the pizza with the toppings.
- Gentle showering of pizza seasonings, oregano, black pepper etc and proceed to bake the pizza for another 10-15 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
- Very finely chopped / minced the onions. You should barely feel the pieces of onions while tasting the sauce.
- In a pan, melt the butter and roast the minced garlic in it. Just till it become fragrant, no need to brown it.
- Add the onions and cook it till it become soft and translucent. Add tomato puree (paste) and start cooking it on medium heat till the rawness disappear. it will take around 5 minutes.
- Add rest of the ingredients to the sauce,except balsamic vinegar. Cook it for another 5 more minute.
- If you are using fresh herbs, then finely shredded them.
- Check for salt, sugar and seasonings.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Add another teaspoon olive oil and you can store this pizza sauce for later use in the fridge too.
- some veggies need prior preparation like mushrooms and broccoli if you are using.
- For that heat a tablespoon oil in a pan, roast the thickly sliced mushrooms, broccoli florets, sliced babycorns til lthey become soft.
- I generally use mix of mozzarella and mix shredded cheese. Gouda and cheddar (specially in non-veg versions ) works well too. Cheddar forms blisters very quickly, so keep that in mind.
- My pizzas are usually medium thickness with well defined hollow pockets. Neither too thin crust nor too deep dish heavy ones. Crust is crisper and top is soft and little chewy. If you are using wholewheat flour, this chewiness will be reduced, but thats perfectly fine with us.
Cold fermentation - After kneading the dough, tightly wrapped in cling film and keep it in the fridge. It will rise in the fridge very well and also flavours in the crust will be more pronounced.
Next day, take out that dough from the fridge and leave it on countertop for 40 min- one hour depending upon the room temperature .
Proceed with the recipe as usual.
Flavouring the crust - I sometimes use diluted milk to knead the pizza dough. It will nicely turn the pizza top into golden brown without much blisters.
Also you can use dried herbs and garlic in the pizza dough for extra flavourings
Happy pizza days,