Homemade pizza crust

Our 22 Kaiser Permanente farmers' markets in five states are providing some part of the diet for as many as a million people per year. There may be as many as thirty KP markets by year's end. The markets primarily provide food for home. Many more millions of people come to our medical centers per year. Within our buildings, we provide food for hospitalized patients, in the cafeterias, for conferences and in vending machines. Our vending machines are currently providing foods that may not be part of a healthy diet. That is going to change soon. KP just ratified a policy to provide at least 50% healthy choices in our vending machines. To qualify as "healthy," the products will have to meet guidelines more stringent than those elsewhere in the industry. KP's guidelines will include limits on calories, sugars, fats, the types of fat, etc. Now the work begins. To implement such a policy will take lots of work by our food services directors nationally but they will enjoy strong support to make the necessary vendor contract changes. Before long, tomatoes will be in our markets. Tomatoes make me think of pizza. Pizza requires a crust. Homemade crust can be the foundation for many of our market's vegetables in the future. Try this — it's not all that hard to do. Yeast has magical properties. You can almost see a dense ball of dough transform in front of your eyes. It will encourage you to bake homemade bread in the future. This recipe makes enough dough for three 12” to 14” crusts. You can freeze one of the balls of dough wrapped in plastic wrap. Believe it or not, all you need to do is to put a ball of frozen dough in a medium mixing bowl coated with a little olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Eight hours later it will have thawed, risen, and will be ready to make into a crust for a quick evening meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water, 105° to 115°
  • 1 tsp honey or sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 5 to 5-1/2 cups bread flour (bread flour contains more gluten and is therefore stretchier than all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (because the food pyramid says to eat more whole grains)

Directions

Dough is most easily made in a stand mixer or a food processor with a dough blade, but hand mixing works well also. In a large mixing bowl, add the honey to water that feels very warm on the inside of your wrist. Mix in the yeast. Watch with gratitude as it foams up in a few minutes. Stir in the olive oil and salt. Add 2-1/2 cups of bread flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. Stir for a few minutes with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining bread flour a 1/4 cup at a time until it's too difficult to stir. Begin kneading the dough on a floured work surface adding just enough flour so the dough is no longer sticky. Continue to knead it for about 10 minutes, occasionally incorporating a little flour now and then to prevent sticking to the work surface. Roll the ball of dough in a large mixing bowl with a little olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about one hour. When it's cold and foggy in Berkeley, I heat the oven at 150° for a couple minutes and then shut it off. That makes for about an 85° temperature which is perfect for pizza dough or yeast breads. After one hour, cut the dough into three portions and gently mold into balls on your work surface. Sprinkle with a little flour, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again for about 20 minutes. Wrap and freeze whatever you aren't going to use at this time. Preheat the oven to 425°. If you use a pizza stone, put it near the heat source at the bottom of the oven for crispier crust. Here's the fun part. Remove your watch, rings and bracelets. Flour the backs of your hands. Press one of the dough rounds with your fingertips to flatten it making an enlarging circle. Drape it over the backs of your hands with the hands facing opposite directions. Begin spinning the dough into the air with reckless abandon until you decide there must be an easier way, Or, flatten the dough ball into a 12” to 14” thin crust with a floured rolling pin. Lift the dough unto a floured pizza pan, baking sheet or wooden peel*. Some like to use cornmeal on the pans to prevent sticking, but flour works too. Crimp the edges so it looks like a normal crust. Top your pizza. If you top it excessively when using a peel, you will scatter ingredients all over your oven when shaking the peel to slide the pizza onto the stone. Pizzas may bake in as little as 8 minutes on a stone placed in the bottom of an oven or 12 to 14 minutes if baked on a pizza pan in the top of an oven. Enjoy the thin, light and crunchy crust. [*A large, almost oval-shaped paddle made of wood or metal, which is used to hold a pizza when placing it into and removing it from an oven. This device enables pizzas and breads to easily slide off onto a baking or pizza stone.]

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Contributor

Preston Maring, MD