There are certain things you’ll never find me doing: making my own sausage, making my own puff pastry, and making my own pasta. I learned how to make all three in culinary school, but the time/effort to results ratio never seemed to work in my favor. (I even own a pasta roller. It’s in the garage snuggled up next to the broken treadmill.)
It’s a different story if you’re talking about chicken stock and pizza. Homemade chicken stock is so far superior to the canned stuff it's almost laughable. I don’t make it frequently (blasphemy!) but when I do I marvel at how much better it is. Then I turn it all into soup and eat it until it's gone. Then I berate myself for not making a double batch because, really, how much extra effort would it have been? Then I get mildly depressed at my own lack of forethought.
Pizza occupies its own category. I’d tried making it lots of times before and had all the accoutrements: the stone, the peel, the pizza wheel, even a round, perforated pan. But after the dough would rise all hell would break loose. I’d stretch it and it’d go all Swiss cheese on me, busting out holes in all the thin spots, snickering Failure! just loud enough to turn my head.
I gave up for a while.
But then, then, I came across a recipe in Cooking Light, and it instantly poofed all my other crust recipes into oblivion. It relied on whole wheat flour and a good dose of honey. I spent several weeks tinkering with it to really make it my own and changed up all the toppings. (Basil in the dough? A distraction. Feta on the pizza? No way. Kneading it by hand? Um, why?)
If you’ve all but given up on making pizza, give it just one more chance.
Recipe for Pesto-Dappled Whole Wheat-ish Pizza
In my opinion, this partial whole wheat crust achieves texture nirvana: it's chewy and yielding inside but crisp and golden outside. The honey adds a nice sweetness, too.
For the dough:
2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup very warm water (100-110 degrees)
1-1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the rest:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup pizza sauce
1-1/4 cups shredded mozzarella
3 tablespoons pistachio pesto, or any pesto of your choice
1/4 cup perlini (tiny fresh mozzarella balls), drained, optional
freshly cracked black pepper
To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the honey and yeast in the warm water. Stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes until yeast turns foamy.
Add 1-1/4 cups of the white whole wheat flour, the all purpose flour, and salt. Stir with a mixing spoon until a soft dough forms. Place the bowl in your stand mixer, insert the dough hook, and begin allowing the machine to knead the dough on highish speed. Slowly add the remaining 2 tablespoons of white whole wheat flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl. Knead for about 6 minutes.
Spray a large, clean bowl with nonstick spray (or olive oil spray). Scrape the dough into this clean bowl and turn to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes to 1 hour. During the last 20 minutes of the rise, place a baking stone on the bottom oven rack. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
If you have a nonstick, perforated, round pizza sheet, spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Stretch the dough to fit the pan, pressing it gently to the edge and ensuring the thickness is relatively uniform. Rub with the olive oil. (Alternatively, stretch the dough into a rough circle, or two if that's easier for you. Transfer to a piece of parchment set atop a pizza peel. Rub the dough with the olive oil.) Place the pizza pan directly on the preheated stone. (Or, if going the parchment route, use a pizza peel to slide the parchment directly onto the stone.)
Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and looks nearly cooked. Remove from the oven and spread with sauce, sprinkle with cheese (and perlini, if using), and dab with pesto. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.
Turn the oven to broil. Broil for 1 minute only, watching very carefully to prevent burning, until the cheese and pesto bubble and begin to turn a deep brown.
Serve hot, sprinkled with freshly cracked black pepper.