Make the BEST homemade pizza with this easy, 100% whole wheat pizza dough! Minimal effort required and freezer-friendly. Plus, foolproof techniques for achieving the perfect crisp and chewy texture every time, like for this BBQ Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza!Ever since my trip to Italy a few weeks ago, I’ve been dying to post a new pizza recipe. (One of many foods on a long list I want to recreate…) While we certainly ate more pasta and bruschetta than pizza, the few pizzas we did have were blow-your-mind wonderful. And, notably, they were unique by region:
- In Rome, for example, pizza is made with a cracker-thin crust and very limited amounts of toppings. Sometimes they even skip the cheese and use only tomato sauce for a pizza pomodoro…crazy, right?
- But in the Etna region of Sicily, we had hearty pies with a crisp yet chewy crust, one loaded with prosciutto, two types of cheese, and the region’s pride–pistachios.
- Palermo, Sicily, is home to still a different approach: essentially a loaf of crusty bread with pomodoro sauce and cheese baked on top. The thickest pizza I’ve ever seen.
In any case, our pizza experiences were moving enough to make me quit store-bought crusts once and for all. (That’s what I’m saying now, anyways.) I used to make pizza dough using a bread-maker; but, although it wasn’t hard to do, digging out the machine and planning ahead became a hassle. When I found a pre-made crust at the store I liked (such as the grilled whole wheat crust from The Pizza Gourmet), the homemade dough kick began to fade.But all that is changing now! I’ve figured out a dough that:
- doesn’t require a bread-maker or a lot of special tools
- uses just a few simple, healthy ingredients that I keep on-hand
- is easy and quick to put together
- takes less than 1 hour to rise
- freezes well for ready-to-go pizzas any night
- is versatile and customizable
- bakes into crisp and chewy perfection
- can be rolled thin and still hold up to plenty of toppings
- is FUN to make!
I know making dough from scratch may seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before. But trust me, it does NOT take an expert to make pizza dough at home. Just a little motivation, confidence, and practice. But, fortunately for any first-timers out there, I’ve already messed up in just about every way possible, and I have some tips to make sure none of these mishaps put a damper on your pizza night. Just stick with me and this will be a breeze.
As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need fancy equipment to make a great pizza. But there are a couple basic things I think are worth having to make the process easier and optimize results.
- Mixer with dough hook attachments– These come with many different standing mixers and even hand mixers. (I usually prefer a hand mixer to a standing mixer because of the convenient size and extra control, and I’m in LOVE with this one from KRUPS. For the minimum amount of effort, though, you can go with the standing mixer.) Mixing with dough hooks takes care of kneading, minimizing hands-on work and getting the job done in a fraction of the time.
- Pizza stone– Again, not necessary, but I would definitely consider it for the ultimate pizza experience. The heavy slab does more than just provide an aesthetic backdrop. Preheated to a high temperature as the oven preheats, the stone retains lots of heat so it can help cook your pizza from the bottom up. And that’s what we want: the bottom crispest, a little chew in the middle, and the toppings cooked but not burnt. Plus, how fun and beautiful is this thing? Makes pizza night feel that much more sophisticated.
- And…wait, those are the only two things. Told you this was simple!
All the pizza experts will tell you that minimizing toppings is a must to achieve the highest class crispy crust pizza. I can’t really argue with this fundamental law of pizza, but, even so, I have to balance it with my self-diagnosed condition of ETOS–Excessive Topping Obsession Syndrome. It’s a serious thing.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered that you can indulge in a creative, saucy, meaty, veggie-covered, cheesy pizza without employing a super-thick crust nor surrendering to any limpness. As this BBQ Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza proves, with a little bit of care, you can have it all.
- Use a flavor-dense sauce to reduce the amount you need. On this pizza, I mixed pulled chicken breast with Stubb’s Original BBQ sauce. For a tomato sauce, make sure it is not too watery.
- Choose a light amount of a protein that does not release much grease. Fully-cooked bacon (patted dry), pulled chicken breast, or small pieces of lean cooked pork (like chopped pork tenderloin) work well.
- Slice your veggies THIN. The pre-sliced veggies in packages at the store are NOT THIN ENOUGH. This way you can spread them all over without adding much stress on the dough.
- Lightly cook the veggies and remove from excess liquid before putting them on the dough. Vegetables release water when they cook, and we don’t want them releasing all of it onto the dough in the oven. You don’t want to cook them fully, as they will continue softening in the oven, but just enough to remove some water.
- As mentioned earlier, preheat the oven to 475º with the pizza stone in the oven the whole time so that it heats gradually. Ideally, leave the stone in the hot oven at least 30 minutes.
- To give the crust enough time to crisp up at high temperatures without the cheese hardening or burning, wait to add the cheese until the last half of cooking, and it will be perfectly melty when the crust is ready.
- Finally, notice that a pizza peel was not listed in the equipment list. If you do have one and are comfortable sliding your topped pizza dough onto the stone without incident (like sticking or tearing or not making it all the way and falling to the floor…gosh I can’t think like that), then by all means, go for it. But, if you do not have one, or if you also have ETOS and fear that sliding will endanger your fully-covered pie, I have a fool-proof method that makes for an easy, worry-free transition every time!
How to cook your pizza on a hot stone without using a pizza peel:
- Roll out the dough (you can get away with doing this with your hands if no rolling pin) on a large sheet of parchment paper dusted with cornmeal. (Cornmeal lends a wonderful aroma and little extra crisp on the hot stone, but flour works too.) Tear the parchment so that is just larger than your pizza.
- Top your pizza with desired toppings (except for cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, in this case).
- Pull the hot stone from the oven (475º), sprinkle on a little cornmeal, and slide the entire pizza with parchment paper onto the stone. Bake about 10 minutes.
- Remove the stone from the oven and use a spatula to help slide the parchment out from under the crust. Add cheese and any remaining toppings, then return to oven about 5-8 minutes longer.
If you slice it and find the crust needs to crisp up a little longer, just toss the slices back on the stone and into the oven for a few minutes. (I do this religiously because those last couple minutes seem to make all the difference with individual pieces…Try it and you’ll see what I mean.)
Finally, for the recipe…