Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust- Review

I make the pizza crust using about 1/2 to 2/3rds whole wheat flour and the remaining 1/3-1/2 of the flour mixture being unbleached flour.

I usually make crusts for two huge pizzas and have sometimes have dough left over to make a small bread for sandwiches, depending on how big I make the pizzas.

The recipe I commit to memory is easy to member:

4 teaspoons yeast (I buy it in bulk from Costco and love their yeast)
4 cups lukewarm water (I microwave cold water from the tap until lukewarm, never use warm tap water)
4 teaspoons sugar

I mix the above together in a huge nonmetallic bowl. I do not use metal measuring spoons or let anything metal get near my yeast mixture, which is a living organism.

I wait a few minutes to see if the mixture changes in any way, such as seeing bubbles or anything different and then carefully add the flour.

I add 8 cups of flour (using my 2 cup measuring cup this is again, 4 loads of flour) slowly while mixing the batter until my batter becomes a dough. This morning my dough was too sticky, so I added almost another load (2 cups) of the flour mixture (half and half, whole wheat and unbleached) and continued to mix together with a wooden spoon.

Because I hate to cleanup, I knead the soft dough in the same large mixing bowl for a few minutes using either wetted hands or oily hands -- placing a bit of oil on my hands before kneading the dough, keeps it from sticking to my hands.

After kneading for a few minutes, I form the dough into a round ball, sprinkle a bit of flour on top of it, cover it with a clean kitchen towel and place it in a safe place. It is important to keep the dough away from cold drafts as that will slow down the growth of the yeast. The best place I have found to raise yeast dough is in my oven (turned off).

Some place the dough in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight. I have done this on occasion, but since I am usually making the pizza for dinner, I let it raise in a warm place.

When the dough in my bowl rises to double the size that it was when I first placed it in the cold oven, it is time to punch it down, and place it in the greased pizza pans to let it rise for a second time.


If one can toss the dough as seen on TV, one gets an incredible hand tossed crust. Hand tossing really improves the texture of the crust. I am not an expert at hand tossing the dough, but if I have time, I gently
toss it from one hand to the other and let it enlarge.

When I do not have time to hand toss, which is most of the time, I place about 1/3 of the dough in a pizza pan and press it to the edges of the pan, and leave it alone again until double in bulk.

When my pizza dough has doubled in bulk, I will edit this blog to add additional photographs!

Easy Colorful Vegetarian Pizza

I get much color in my homemade vegetarian pizza from buying green peppers that have some color on them. This saves me the trouble of buying yellow and orange peppers as I look for those colors on a green pepper. If I buy a red pepper and a green one with yellow and orange sides, it adds much color to a homemade vegetarian pizza. Onions add much flavor and I microwave all the vegetables gently to reduce the vegetable juice exuding from the vegetables onto my pizza.

One can easily spot the liquid left in a bowl after the vegetables are microwaved for a minute or two before adding them to the homemade pizza crust covered with sauce.

For pizza sauce, I have found that there are many options and everything works! Sometimes I mix a can of tomato paste with a bit of ketchup, sometimes I use spaghettis sauce or if I have a plentiful tomato harvest, I have placed fresh tomatoes on my pizza. I love putting basil sauce on my pizza too.

The peppers give the pizza much color and along with the onions, much flavor. I selected green  peppers with some color.

I cut one of the green peppers and a red pepper into small pieces to make the pizza below:
My husband asked me to make pizza today and I will mix the yeast, lukewarm water, sugar, and whole wheat flour, and let it rise while I finish my blog and run errands!

Vegetarian Pizza without Cheese

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Everything Eggplant

           Wow, we seem to have the most beautiful eggplants in our markets this fall!

To select an eggplant, I look for one that is lighter, rather than heavier, for its size. I like a shiny, dark purple coat with as few blemishes as possible. To check for freshness, I look for a greenish stem near the top of the eggplant.

In the late summer and early fall, I put eggplant on the grill. Just spraying slices of the eggplant on both sides with a little bit of Pam Cooking Spray, keeps the eggplant from sticking to my grill. We eat the eggplant right from the grill, but the skin. I never peel my eggplant as love the deep purple color of the skin!

When I want to have a softer, edible purple skin, I prefer to gently broil the eggplant. I place slices cut to about 1/8" on a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes on each side. I only put a bit of cooking spray on the bottom of the sheet or broiler pan, to keep the slices from sticking. One must be careful as once the eggplant slices begin to turn a bit of brown, they can broil to the overdone stage almost instantly. Some say to only broil the eggplant on one side, but I prefer to broil the slices on both sides.

I make lots of homemade pizza as my husband loves it. However, since he is "sensitive" to cheese, I make cheese-less pizza's for him, or refrain from putting cheese on his side of the pizza.

A medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/8", round slices, filled up my homemade pizza very nicely. The slices were broiled as described above, then placed over the sauce on the pizza. The skin of the eggplant in this case was very soft and easy to chew after baking!
It is easy to see the eggplant slices in the areas of the pizza where there is no cheese. We love any kind of fresh sweet pepper and onions on our pizza too, as they complement the eggplant well. I always microwave the diced or sliced peppers and onions, just to the soft state, before placing on the pizza, as we don't like raw onion on our pizza and prefer the peppers soft too.

We like lots of toppings on our pizza, over our mostly whole wheat crust, the recipe for which is earlier in this blog. I doubled the recipe to make a 9" X 11" inch square pizza and the very large round pizza above.

I generally pre-bake the crust for 8-10 minutes on a high temperature, such as 4025-450 F. A secret to keep the crust from getting soggy, is to put cheese as the very first topping on pre-baked, homemade pizza dough, but because my husband is "sensitive" to cheese, I can no longer use that secret trick.

I have discovered that microwaving the vegetable toppings, such as onions and peppers, helps to get rid of some of the veggie juice that would otherwise make my pizza soggy!

I never bake in the summer, but it is October 9 2012, and am glad to turn on my oven in these cooler days of fall in Cleveland, Ohio!