Monday, October 19, 2009

BEEsy in the Kitchen: Pizza Chefs!

"When the moon
hits your eye
Like a big pizza pie

That's amore."
~Lyrics from Dean Martin's That's Amore~

This evening Hayden and I became pizza chefs. We both slipped on our aprons--Hayden in his monkey one and me in my floral one. Hayden jumped right in, rolling out the balls of dough into individual-sized pies and piling one with his favorite toppings. It's the first time he's helped me make pizza.

A couple of years ago, I began making my own homemade pizza. I studied different techniques in my collection of cookbooks and experimented with them. I enjoy the art of creating pizza--kneading the dough, rolling it out, and loading it up with a variety of toppings. And I've discovered making delicious and even healthy pizza in your home kitchen is not too difficult. But it helps to know a few tips before your begin, including:

  • One of the best places I've found for placing the dough to rise is in my microwave oven. Before placing the bowl in there, I usually run the microwave on high for about 1 minute with a cup of water. I then remove the water and place the bowl of the dough in the warm microwave (do not run microwave while dough is in there).
  • For pizza with a thin, crisp crust, either use a large rectangular pizza stone or line the bottom rack of your oven with unglazed quarry tiles made of terra cotta (you can usually purchase these at a tile store).
  • Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Place the pizza stone or tiles in the oven before beginning the preheat. If possible, preheat the oven for one hour.
  • For pizza that is crisp and chewy, use bread flour.
  • When making whole-wheat dough, your flour should be one-half whole wheat and one-half either unbleached all-purpose or bread flour. Using only whole-wheat flour results in a very dense pizza crust.
  • Pizza peels are handy tools for sliding uncooked pizzas onto stones or tiles. Coat the pizza peel either with semolina (preferred) or corn meal to prevent the dough from sticking to the peel.
  • Keep an eye on the pizza because it tends to cook fast with the oven's high temperature. I usually check it every five minutes.
  • Experiment with toppings. You may be surprised which combinations you like best.

I typically use one of two recipes when making pizza dough--one with white flour only and the other with a combination of whole-wheat and white flour. The recipe I'd like to share today is the whole-wheat recipe. In the weeks to come, I'll share the other one when I post one of my family's favorite calzone recipes, which uses white flour dough.

I'd love to hear about any tips you have for making delicious pizza!

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
Adapted from a recipe in Everyday Food

1 1/2 cups warm (115 degrees) water
2 packets (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cups bread or all-purpose flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour

1. Place water in a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes

2. Add sugar, oil, and salt to the yeast mixture and whisk together. With a wooden spoon, stir in flours until mixed together. Knead on a floured surface for 3 to 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl and brush top of dough with olive oil. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm area in kitchen (I recommend the microwave--see my tip above). Let dough stand until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

3. Place dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide into two balls for two large pizzas or eight small balls for individual-sized pizzas. (Note: I only used half of the dough tonight, making four individual pizzas. I froze the other ball, which I can take out a day before I plan to use it and make either one large pizza or four individual-sized pizzas.)

4. Roll dough out into desirable size and thickness. Pile on your favorite toppings. For the pizzas we made tonight, we added tomato sauce, pepperoni, pineapples, and a combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses to two pizza pies and barbecue sauce, crisp cooked bacon, sliced sweet bell peppers, sliced onions, and feta cheese to the other two pies.

5. Using a pizza peel, slide the prepared pizzas onto a stone or tiles in the preheated oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.

6. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Enjoy! :-)


  1. Looks delicious, Juliet! To make individual pizzas around here, we use Pillsbury Biscuits and just smoosh them out a little bit, but homemade dough sounds yummy!

  2. Ralene - Thanks for sharing your pizza making tip. I must admit making homemade pizza dough does require planning, and there are definitely days I opt to pick up pre-made pizza dough at the store, or even better yet, a take-n-bake pizza from Papa Murphy's. But every once and awhile, we enjoy making the dough from scratch. :-)