One thing that always amazes me when I return to the US is the sheer amount of choice one has about food. Order a pizza in the US and you can usually choose whole-wheat or white crust (sometimes even gluten-free); thick or thin crust; marinara sauce or white sauce; any combination of toppings. With the sheer amount of kinds of pizzerias in towns like Ann Arbor–everything from national chains to Silvio’s organic pizza–the sky was the limit.
I know most of my posts start with me gushing about Ann Arbor, then complaining about Japan, then resolving into my resolution to make it myself, but going from choosing the tiniest details of my pizza to angrily eyeing the corn-and-mayo pizza on a rare trip to Coco’s actually wasn’t that shocking until I came back to the US on business in the winter. Even though I’d been making this dough and my own pizzas, sitting down at a restaurant and being asked if I would like white or wheat crust was startling. I can choose? I thought, as all my collective pizza memories from abut 20 years of being able to voice an opinion about pizza came flooding back, starting from Little Caesar’s square cheese pizzas and my dislike of Pillsbury pizza dough to the pineapple-pepperoni-&-spinach pizzas I’d order when grad school was kicking my ass. I had choices then!
That’s what making my own dough means to me: the power of choice. The reason pizza is great is because you can make it however you want. My husband likes classic American combinations like cheese and pepperoni.* He makes his pizzas in perfect circles, rolls the crust at the edges, arranges his toppings neatly, and it freaks me out because they look like factory-produced frozen pizzas. The uncanny valley of homemade pizzas. Being less artistic, I go for a big pile of spinach, asparagus, peppers, and garlic; a scanty layer of cheese to hold down my salad; and fresh basil on top. The shape is usually rather, uh, “organic.”
You can make yours however you like. That’s the magic of pizza.
If whole-wheat flour is hard for you to get or you run out, you can substitute 136 grams of bread flour for the whole-wheat (total bread flour used would be 272 g). The dough itself is vegan–how you top it is up to you!
Easy Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
Adapted from Eating Well’s “Easy Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe.” See original for US measurements.
Serves 4-6 (yields just under 1/2 kg pizza dough)
Active Time: 20 minutes
Rising Time: 60 minutes
Baking Time: 10-20 minutes
Total Time: 90-100 minutes
Calories: The whole batch of dough is 970 calories, or 262 per serving (4), or 161 (6).
265 mL lukewarm water (40-45°C)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (insutanto îusuto, インスタントイースト)
1 teaspoon sugar (satô, 砂糖)
1/2 teaspoon salt (shio, 塩)
136 g whole-wheat flour (zenryûhun, 全粒分)
136 g bread flour, plus extra for rolling (kyôrikiko, 強力粉)
1-2 tsp. olive oil for coating the dough (orîbu oiru, オリーブオイル)
1 large bowl
1 clean hand-towel or cling wrap (rappu, ラップ) to cover bowl
1 rolling pin (menbô, 麺棒)
a clean surface (cutting board) to roll out the dough
Pans to cook the pizza – can use metal cookie sheets, spread parchment paper (kukkingo shîto, クッキングシート) on the square metal cooking sheet on your oven range, use ceramic tart dishes, etc.
Resealable plastic bag (if reserving dough for later)
1. Stir water, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl and let the mixture stand until the yeast has dissolved (about 5 minutes).
2. Stir in whole-wheat flour and bread flour until the dough begins to come together.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. You may need to add a little more flour if the dough sticks to the kneading surface. (I like to knead the dough in the bowl because I find it sticks less.)
4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. If making smaller pizzas, divide the dough, coat with oil, and let rise on a cookie sheet (or plate) under a clean hand-towel for 1 hour. See notes for instructions on reserving dough for later.**
5. Preheat the oven range to 210°C.
6. Roll out the risen dough on a clean, floured surface with a floured rolling pin. I have a larger oven range, so I usually make half the dough into a big rectangular pizza. You can make 4-6 individual-sized pizzas instead.
7. Baking: A lot of this depends on your oven. If your oven range has trouble cooking things through, I recommend making smaller pizzas; cook the dough at 210° for 3-5 minutes; remove and add toppings, then cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, place your rolled-out oiled dough onto the cooking surface, top with sauce, vegetables, meat, and/or cheese, and cook for 15-20 minutes.
*Some of our friends who patronized The Meat Guy for the three years they lived in Kanazawa gave us the contents of their fridge when they moved, so we had real pepperoni–my first since leaving the US!
Short-term: After kneading and letting the dough rise (step 3), cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day OR tightly wrap and refrigerate the unrisen dough and let rise for 1 hour before cooking. If you leave it longer than a day, it will not spoil, but the dough will be hard to roll out and the texture will suffer.
Longer term: Tightly wrap the unrisen dough in oiled plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost the dough in the refrigerator overnight, then dough stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.