The Best homemade pizza ever and bit about "Delancy : A man, a woman, a restaurant and a marriage"
So pizza tales are not new on this blog. We at home love pizzas and for a long time I have been working hard to perfect that 100% whole wheat pizza base. Many books have been read, many recipes tried, some tweaks done and now I think finally last Friday I made what I can call as the best homemade whole wheat pizza ever. The people in my house have made a joke out of my pizza trials and how I am obsessed with it, on how it really doesn't matter if the crust is not as crisp or as chewy or if it has 10% maida added in it but me I kept it, sometimes when things get in my head they stay in my head till I am satisfied.
I think what also pulled the last straw and pushed me to work at it extra hard for the last some days is the book I am currently reading, "Delancy : A man, a woman, a restaurant and a marriage" written by Molly Wizenberg (author of the famous blog Orangette) is a story about Molly and her husband Brandon and their opening the Pizza restaurant "Delancy". The book is a memoir of how Molly and Brandon survive a new marriage, a book and a new restaurant altogether at once. The book has its moments, describes the ups and downs of a new marriage and most certainly captures the madness of opening a new restaurant.
As a person currently working as a consultant for a new upcoming restaurant in Hyderabad (yes yes do check out the FB page of The Big Fork and I will keep you informed of the opening), I totally could relate to the madness and the points mentioned in the book, the unending work days, the one task after another coming up every new day and just when you thought you are done with everything. Opening and running a restaurant is a constant whirlwind madness and everyone who has been associated with one with agree to this.
However what the book fails to capture for me is the emotions, going by the title of the book I expected a lot more of the chemistry and emotions between Molly and Brandon and how they handled their marriage to be explored and I did feel shortchanged at that level. Even the most complex scene where Molly confesses to Brandon that she doesn't want Delancy to exist seems to have been touched upon so lightly but what is handled so well is the food part and what lingered in my mind for a long time was how Brandon was obsessed with getting his pizza dough and the sauce right, how he explored every pizza joint worth it's salt in his desire to understand and master it and that my dear friends, pushed me finally to my pizza dough right.
So I share with you the recipe of the best homemade whole wheat pizza and few tips I realized are important to get the pizza right.
1\. Knead the dough well but be gentle with it. Handle it with love and care.
2\. Slow raising, that is the key and a very important point in the making of any pizza. I slow raise my whole wheat pizza dough in the fridge for about 6 hours and then for about an hour outside. If you are in a hurry, you can skip the fridge refrigeration step but the flavour will mostly certainly not be the same (I have tried this, it does work). Remember when it comes to bread, slow raising = better flavour ALWAYS
3\. Always brush your pizza with olive oil before putting the sauce and toppings on it, it helps in keeping the crust crisp and prevents it from being soggy
4\. The toppings themselves - do not overload the pizza with sauce (it will make it soggy) or with toppings (again it will make it heavy and soggy). After you apply a thin layer of pizza sauce, sprinkle some cheese before you add the toppings and then add the rest of the cheese. This way there will be something holding the sauce and the toppings together and there won't be any toppings landslide after the first bite of the pizza
5\. Heat while baking, very very important step. I heat the oven at 250C for atleast 30 minutes before I put my pizza in the oven and when I can I use a pizza stone to increase the heat. It makes a lot of difference to the quality of the pizza crust, the wood fire ovens operate at a temperature of 750-1000 and we all know that the best pizza's come out of them. High heat is critical for a good pizza
6\. Last but not the least, don't feel scared of the pizza monster. Once you crack it, the feeling of satisfaction is immense and unbeatable
Source - many internet and book recipes put together
Makes 2 large thin crust pizzas
For the dough
For the topping
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, yeast, and warm water. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy. This is called "proofing" the yeast. If the yeast doesn't foam up, your yeast is dead. Chuck it and open a fresh packet. Add the olive oil, honey, and salt. Mix by hand with a whisk. Add 3 cups of atta and mix till it comes together like dough.
- After mixing the dough, knead for 5-8 minutes by hand on your kitchen counter till the dough is smooth and elastic. To test, Poke the dough with your finger - if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading. If while kneading dough feels too wet, add up to 1/3 cup more of whole wheat flour.
- Coat the dough ball with olive oil and leave it for raising for 1-2 hours or its doubled in size (alternatively for the best flavour, put it the fridge and let it raise for 6 hours. Take it out and let it raise for another one hour)
- When the dough is doubled, gently punch the dough down to release all the air.
- Heat the oven to 250C for about 20 minutes or so. We are looking at a really hot oven.
- Divide the dough into 2 balls and roll into thin circle (or in my case this time rectangle since I baked it in a cookie sheet). Brush each pizza with olive oil, spread pizza sauce on top, spread some grated cheese and then your toppings and in the top it up with some more cheese.
- Bake the pizza for about 15-20 minutes till nicely browned and crisp.
- Bite into the perfect slice.