I'm an every-other-decade kind of baker.
In the 1960s and again in the 1980s, I baked bread, sometimes every week. I started with a basic recipe for white bread, from the classic Beard on Bread, and slowly I branched out.
My pantry reflected that bread passion, with jars of unbleached all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, rye, semolina, oatmeal, seeds and nuts and grains from the local health food store.
Now that we're nearer to the end of the 00 decade than to the beginning, I'm feeling the urge to bake again. (Actually, I bought Dorie Greenspan's book, after reading all the glowing reports here and here and here. But Ted's run off with it. I'm not complaining; he made glorious lemon madeleines!)
This time around, I don't need to seek out a health food store; my local supermarket offers a whole range of organic and specialty flours from King Arthur Flour, Bob's Red Mill, and Kenyon's Grist Mill right here in Rhode Island.
There are two main types of whole wheat flour available to home bakers, according to another amazing book I've added to my kitchen library, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: hard whole wheat flour, labeled "traditional" or "white whole wheat;" and soft whole wheat flour, called whole wheat pastry flour. Wheat flour comes in different grinds; the more coarse the grind, the more bits of bran and germ you'll see in the flour.
A comparison of nutritional values of whole wheat and white all-purpose flours confirms that whole wheat provides a huge bonus in fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. While the number of calories is the same, all-purpose flour has no sodium and less fat than whole wheat, though the amount of fat (really oil from the germ of the wheat berry) is insignificant.
That oil does cause whole wheat flour to turn rancid, which gives it a bitter taste. The solution? Store your flour in the freezer from the moment you bring it home from the store. Let the flour come to room temperature before you use it, and return the unused portion to the freezer.
Easy grilled whole wheat pizza
This recipe makes 6 individual pizzas. You can freeze the dough, in individual plastic bags, and have homemade pizza any time!
1-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp cornmeal, coarse ground
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rapid-rise yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
Toppings of your choice: shredded mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce (homemade or good-quality from a jar), sliced mushrooms and onions, sautéed broccoli florets, leftover roast chicken, etc.
In a food processor, pulse together the flours, cornmeal, salt and yeast. With the motor running, add the water and 2 Tbsp of oil. Continue processing for approximately 30 seconds more, until the dough forms a cohesive ball that is smooth and elastic. If it remains sticky, add another Tbsp or two of flour.
Knead the dough a few times on a floured work surface, forming it into a ball. Pour the remaining oil into a large bowl, and add the dough, turning it over until coated with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and set in a warm draft-free spot to rise until doubled (approx. 1 hr).
Lightly oil half of a 12-muffin tin (dip a paper towel in a small bowl of olive oil, and rub the inside of each muffin compartment). Punch down the dough, and divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and place each ball in the muffin tin until ready to use. (You can refrigerate at this point for up to 90 minutes before using, but bring back to room temperature before proceeding.)
TO COOK ON THE GRILL: Heat a grill to medium high. Roll each piece of dough to approximately 1/4-inch thick. The dough should be quite oily, but if it is not, brush one side with oil, and place that side down on the grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until bottom is lightly browned. Remove the dough from the grill. Brush the uncooked side lightly with olive oil, and turn the dough cooked side up on a plate. Sprinkle selected toppings here and there. Return dough to the grill, and cook 3-5 minutes, until bottom is lightly browned and toppings are heated through.
NOTE: You can make this pizza on the stovetop, on a cast-iron griddle pan. After you flip the dough and add toppings, cover the pan to help cook the toppings, or place the cooked pizza under the broiler for a minute if the dough has cooked but the toppings have not.
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