Thin-Crust Whole-Wheat Pizza with Garlic Oil, Three Cheeses, and Basil

Published May 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.

Why this recipe works:

For a pizza with balanced whole-wheat flavor, we used a combination of 60 percent whole-wheat flour and 40 percent bread flour. To ensure that this higher-than-normal ratio of whole-wheat to bread flour still produced a great crust, we increased the hydration to almost 80 percent, resulting in… read more

For a pizza with balanced whole-wheat flavor, we used a combination of 60 percent whole-wheat flour and 40 percent bread flour. To ensure that this higher-than-normal ratio of whole-wheat to bread flour still produced a great crust, we increased the hydration to almost 80 percent, resulting in better gluten development and chew. To compensate for the added moisture, we employed the broiler to speed the baking process and guarantee a crisp crust and a moist, tender interior. Finally, we threw out traditional pizza toppings, which tended to clash with the whole-wheat flavor, opting instead for oil- and cream-based sauces and bold ingredients.

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Makes two 13-inch pizzas

We recommend King Arthur brand bread flour for this recipe. Some baking stones, especially thinner ones, can crack under the intense heat of the broiler. Our recommended stone, by Old Stone Oven, is fine if you’re using this technique. If you use another stone, you might want to check the manufacturer’s website.

Ingredients

  • DOUGH
  • 1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 ounces) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup (5 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups ice water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • GARLIC OIL
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese

Instructions

  1. 1. FOR THE DOUGH: Process whole-wheat flour, bread flour, honey, and yeast in food ­processor until combined, about 2 seconds. With processor running, add water and process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.

    2. Add oil and salt to dough and process until it forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 45 to 60 seconds. Remove from bowl and knead on oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 18 hours or up to 2 days.

    3. FOR THE GARLIC OIL: Heat oil in 8-inch skillet over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add garlic; anchovies, if using; pepper; oregano; pepper flakes; and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl and let cool completely before using.

    4. One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack 4½ inches from broiler element, set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in half. Shape each half into smooth, tight ball. Place balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic coated with vegetable oil spray; let stand for 1 hour.

    5. Heat broiler for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and place on well-floured countertop. Using your fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than center. Lift edge of dough and, using back of your hands and knuckles, gently stretch disk into 12-inch round, working along edges and giving disk quarter turns as you stretch. Transfer dough to well-floured peel and stretch into 13-inch round. Using back of spoon, spread half of garlic oil over surface of dough, leaving ¼-inch border. Layer 1/2 cup basil leaves over pizza. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Pecorino, followed by 1 cup mozzarella. Slide pizza carefully onto stone and return oven to 500 degrees. Bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and partially browned, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through baking. Remove pizza and place on wire rack. Dollop half of ricotta over surface of pizza. Let pizza rest for 5 minutes, slice, and serve.

    6. Heat broiler for 10 minutes. Repeat process of stretching, topping, and baking with remaining dough and toppings, returning oven to 500 degrees when pizza is placed on stone.

Why Whole Wheat Can Sabotage Texture

Whole-wheat pizza is generally so dusty and leaden that it bears little resemblance to a crust made with all-purpose flour. But why should this be so? In a nutshell: It’s more difficult for whole-wheat flour to form the network of proteins, or gluten, that gives a traditional pizza dough structure and leads to a moist, puffy crumb with great chew. While whole-wheat flour is higher in protein overall than all-purpose (or even bread) flour, it has less of the proteins we’re looking for when making pizza (or any other kind of dough). Wheat contains four types of proteins, but only two of them—glutenin and gliadin—are responsible for creating gluten. Ninety percent of proteins in all-purpose flour are capable of producing gluten; only 78 percent of the proteins in whole-wheat flour can do so. The other 22 percent of whole-wheat flour is made up of the proteins albumin and globulin, which are incapable of creating structure within dough. There’s one more reason that whole-wheat flour sabotages texture: It includes both the bran and the germ. The former has sharp edges that literally chop down gluten strands, while the latter contains glutathione, which retards gluten formation.

Secrets to Whole-Wheat Pizza Worth Making

Our approach transforms whole-wheat flour into a crust that’s wonderfully chewy and crisp, with an earthy complexity that distinguishes it from a traditional pizza crust.

ADD BREAD FLOUR: Using both whole-wheat flour and white bread flour (which has more structure-building proteins than all-purpose flour does) increases chewiness.

USE LOTS OF (ICE) WATER: Our highly hydrated dough helps strengthen the gluten network; ice water keeps the dough from overheating as it kneads in the food processor.

REST IT OVERNIGHT: This gives enzymes in the dough time to slightly weaken gluten strands, increasing extensibility; it also allows more flavor-boosting fermentation.

USE THE BROILER: Because our dough is so wet, preheating the pizza stone under the broiler’s high heat (after an hour at 500 degrees) is key to a nicely browned crust.

NO TOMATOES! The sweet-tart flavors of tomato sauce clash with earthy whole wheat. Instead, we top our pizza with cheeses and herbs.

Ensuring a Crispy Crust

It’s always important to preheat your baking stone when making pizza—especially when using our whole-wheat pizza’s extra wet dough. We ensure a well-browned and crispy crust by placing the stone near the top of the oven to trap reflective heat. And to get the stone as hot as possible, we heat it at 500 degrees for 1 hour and then broil it for 10 minutes.

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