Perfect Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Since the response was so HUGE for my perfect whole wheat pizza dough, I figured I’d go above and beyond my normal “couple of pictures and a recipe” post, and just for you, because I’m nice like that, I decided to do a photo tutorial.

You’ll thank me in a little while! For those of you who want to jump ahead and just get the recipe, scroll down and it’ll be there, I promise.

So, start out with 1 cup of warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl if you’re doing this by hand. The water shouldn’t be warmer than 110 degrees Fahrenheit or else your yeast will die. The water should feel slightly warm to the touch.

Then, sprinkle one (1) Tablespoon of active dry yeast on top of the water. If you’re using packets instead of bulk yeast, use two packets.

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Then, add one (1) Tablespoon of white table sugar or honey. I prefer white sugar.

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Allow this mixture to “bloom” and get foamy for about 10 minutes. It will start smelling pretty bread-y.

Here’s the key ingredient: Vital wheat gluten. I spent a lot of time playing around with different mixtures of white and wheat flour to try and get that stretchy, soft, chewy pizza crust. Many recipes call for equal parts white and wheat flour. This, to me, defeats the purpose of having whole wheat pizza! So, on a whim, I added a touch of vital wheat gluten (which looks like this at the store, by the way)

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Vital wheat gluten adds back to the whole wheat flour the necessary (vital as it may be) gluten to create the long strands of gluten in the dough, which in turn creates chewiness in the final product and staying power for those delicious bubbles in the crust. And, the best part, is that the vital wheat gluten flour can do this in a very small amount rather than replacing half the whole wheat flour with white.

Add 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten to the bowl with the yeast, sugar, and water.

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Mix the yeast/water/sugar/flour mixture until nearly smooth.

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Add whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur Flour brand or Bob’s Red Mill. They actually taste like wheat.) 1/4 cup at a time, taking care to completely mix in each addition. The mixing and kneading develops gluten strands which we want here.

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After the last addition of flour (3-4 cups total) add in one (1) tablespoon olive oil

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And about 1 teaspoon of salt. This might be a little more.

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Knead the dough for about 10 minutes in a stand mixer, or until it’s smooth, soft, and still a little sticky (TWSS?) Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl.

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Cover the bowl with a towel or loosely with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

While it rises, pre-heat your oven to 500* F. Yes, 500, preferably with a pizza stone. Then, prepare the toppings you’ll be enjoying on your crust. Tonight at our house, we had salad pizzas, so many veggies needed chopping!

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Let’s check that dough now, shall we?

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Carefully punch down the dough (you might want to lightly oil your hands for this) and divide it into two equal parts for dinner-sized pizzas. Stretch the dough on a cornmeal-covered board to the desired size, top with your desired toppings, then transfer it to the pre-heated pizza stone. I just used a small drizzle of olive oil and a bit of low fat mozzarella cheese.

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See those gorgeous bubbles and the huge pouf of the dough? Thats what a good pizza crust does! Bake it 8-10 minutes or until it reaches your desired doneness. For our salad pizzas, I didn’t want them too browned, but regular pizzas I cook longer.

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Puffy, chewy, hearty and perfect! Then, since we were having salad pizzas, I got to topping! First, I breaded a 2 ounce round of goat cheese and briefly sauteed it.

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I made some savory roasted pecans as well. A mixture of butter (about 1 tsp), soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and oregano went onto some pecans, and then into that 500* oven.

And a dressing! I made dressing!

  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. mayo
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Put all the ingredients into a covered jar and shake shake shake!

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Ok, back to the salad. Remember those onions up there? I caramelized them.

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And I cooked and crumbled some bacon. And then, the beautiful salad pizza was born…

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And another angle:

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And in action (thanks to hand model Adam)

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All together now:

Perfect Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Tried and True!

Servings: 2 dinner-sized pizzas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (about 110*)
  • 1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3-4 cup whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Directions

Start out with 1 cup of warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl if you're doing this by hand. The water shouldn't be warmer than 110 degrees Fahrenheit or else your yeast will die. The water should feel slightly warm to the touch. Sprinkle active dry yeast on top of the water. If you're using packets instead of bulk yeast, use two packets. Then, add white table sugar or honey. I prefer white sugar. Allow this mixture to "bloom" and get foamy for about 10 minutes. It will start smelling pretty bread-y. Add the vital wheat gluten to the bowl with the yeast, sugar, and water. Mix the yeast/water/sugar/flour mixture until nearly smooth. Add whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur Flour brand or Bob's Red Mill. They actually taste like wheat.) 1/4 cup at a time, taking care to completely mix in each addition. The mixing and kneading develops gluten strands which we want here. After the last addition of flour (1 cup total) add in the olive oil and salt. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl and cover, allowing to rise about 45 minutes. Split into two pieces, and stretch onto a cornmeal-covered board. Top as desired and bake at 500*F until done, about 10 minutes.


**Online Flea Market Information**

To help me fundraise for the PanCan Chicago Purple Strides event benefitting pancreatic cancer research, I’ll be hosting an online “flea market” next Thursday, April 21! This will work much like the ever-popular blogger bake sales hosted by Meghann and Tina, and very similar to Gina’s recent Luon for a Cause auction.

Bloggers and readers alike will donate baked goods, crafts, services, or whatever else you can think of. You can then all bid on the item(s) you’d like, and I’ll keep a bids page updated during the day.

So, are you interested? Do you have something to donate? If so, please send an email to fleamarket@imadedinner.net containing the following:

  • Your name
  • Your blog (if you have one)
  • Item or service being donated
  • Where you’ll ship, or for services, where you’re located
  • A photo of the item
  • A brief description

All bids on 4/21 will start at $10.

Thank you in advance for your donations and support of this cause! Much love to you all!

xoxo

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25 Responses to Perfect Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

  1. I am pretty darn excited to try out this recipe Mara!! …and I think I’m going to need to invest in some Bob’s bc I know what you mean about it ‘actually tasting like wheat’. Just curious… what brand of yeast did you use ?
    Mary (What’s Cookin’ with Mary)´s last blog post ..How to Chop a Mango

  2. Christina says:

    Sending you an email with some vintage bakeware dishes and baked goods to donate!! XOXO
    Christina´s last blog post ..Banana Walnut Muffins

  3. This is a magnificent post! That crust looks amazing, and I LOVE the idea of a pizza salad! Brilliant! I must try soon!
    J3nn (Jenn’s Menu and Lifestyle Blog)´s last blog post ..His &amp Hers Pizza Pockets

  4. Rhonda says:

    I’m sold…love the salad on top. You can have your pizza and salad too, brilliant!
    Rhonda´s last blog post ..BBQ Bacon Stuffed Meatloaf

  5. Lauren says:

    Oh My Goodness! This looks amazing!!!! You are amazing! :)
    Lauren´s last blog post ..The Secret To Healthy Eating

  6. Roz says:

    This looks like an incredible meal. I’ll say it again, Adam is a LUCKY man!! OK…thinking cap on, I’ll send you an email over the weekend with a donation. Hmm…… Have a good Friday Mara!
    Roz´s last blog post ..Happy “International Moment of Laughter Day”!

  7. That goat cheese is something from my dreams, I’m sure of it.
    Christin@purplebirdblog´s last blog post ..Ups and Downs

  8. laura says:

    hey try SAF instant yeast–no proofing needed, no nothing it rises EVERY time plus you can get a huge bag enough to make 96 loaves of bread and it costs 5 dollars! I love it and I bake all our bread for our family with it.

    I’d like to donate two vintage egg cups, I’ll send you photos soon :)

    K?
    laura´s last blog post ..The Penny Worthy Project and a GIVEAWAY

  9. shelley says:

    be sure to add the 1 Tbl of honey/sugar to the ingredient list :)

  10. shelley says:

    uh… the salt is way off as well, i’m assuming it it 1 tsp and not 1 tbl. i think i may have just ruined my recipe!! ugh!!

  11. Aric says:

    I had a weird issue where I followed your directions (1 cup of water 1 cup of whole wheat flour 1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten) of course with yeast salt and sugar but it ended up like whole wheat soup. Have you considered doing this recipe by weight rather than normal measuring cups?

    • Hi Aric,
      I have definitely considered doing the recipe by weight, and may do so at some point, but at this point I think standard measurements are more accessible for the average home cook.
      As for your problem, that was completely my recipe’s fault! I had a plug-in that I deactivated then re-activated, and all the numbers defaulted to “1”. There should be 3-4 cups of flour in total. My apologies!

      • Aric says:

        hahaha that explains it I was thinking to myself (how in the world did she get this to work) now I know. Thanks for the quick reply and for fixing the issue. Also you might want to change the directions at the picture recipe too since right below it says “After the last addition of flour (1 cup total) add in one (1) tablespoon olive oil” should be 3-4 cups total.

  12. Joanna says:

    I was so excited to try this and I followed the recipe to a T but when I got to 1.5 cups flour of the 1/4 cups, the dough was so thick there is no way I would get to 3-4 cups of flour without it being brick hard, I am an avid baker so this has me confused, going to attempt to add more water and salvage this for a dinner tonight, hope it works, let me know what I may have done wrong because 1 cup water to 3-4 cups of flour just didn’t work for me.

    • Hi Joanna,
      I apologize that the recipe didn’t work for you! Sometimes, the flours have a very different reaction in the water, and some absorb more than others. The flour I use doesn’t absorb much water at all, hence the only 1 cup of water and 2 Tbsp. oil. But, sometimes I do have to add extra water and it works just fine, just add slowly because the texture changes quickly with the vital wheat gluten!

      • Joanna says:

        I actually used the brand of flour you recommended, King Arthur, it ended up taking almost 2 cups of water to 3 cups of flour, just under 2 cups water. I actually made two batches to try mixing each 1/4 cup addition more to see if that helped but it didn’t make a difference, it was full thickness at 1.5 cups flour both times. Is it 2 tbsp oil, not 1? Above says 1 tbsp which is what I used. After adding the almost 2 cups water, 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten, and 3 cups flour, it turned out just fine :)

        • I had the same exact issue with this recipe. Hmm. Same King Arthur flour too — but only 2 cups would go in without turning it into a brick. Letting it rise now, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

          • I hope it worked! It’s a very stiff dough until it rises…

          • Cake says:

            Just had the same issue as well, also using KA flour and a kitchen aid. I got three cups in, but it was very crumbly so I added a bit of water. It’s rising now and looks good. I wish I had goat cheese to try that breaded cheese thing!

            The thing about pizza dough is it’s very forgiving because kneading is a good thing.

  13. Tim says:

    Hello all, I just wanted to chime in here to hopefully help some of you struggling with how much flour to use. After trying what seems like half a gazillion whole wheat pizza crust recipes I’ve decided that this is far and away the most reliable recipe. It results in a crust that is about as close to a white flour crust as I have made, is dead simple, and works in a decent amount of time. So starting from the top:

    If you are trying to save yeast and limit sugar, I found that you can cut the quantities in half and still get a very fast starter that rises well enough and fast enough for me. If you bake more often than a couple times a month then consider the SAF 1 pound bag, it’s dirt cheap on Amazon (about the same as many sellers charge for a 2 little jars). Kept in the freezer will probably last for a couple years. I don’t like refined foods so I use natural sugar which works well. What many people don’t know is that bread yeasts can handle higher temps than are traditionally recommended, the higher the temp the faster the starter gets going and the faster the rise. I start mine with very warm water, at least 120 deg and probably up to 125 or 130. It definitely feels more than lukewarm or warm. Without using a thermometer, and if you know what the recommended temp feels like, start using a little warmer and increase the temp until the starter gets to foamy in a couple minutes. You’d be surprised at how warm the water feels. I start mine first and by the time I get the gluten and flour measured it’s going nuts.

    I haven’t experimented with the amount of gluten and water, it works well enough with the given quantities. What I have experimented with is the amount of flour to use and how it effects both rise, working the dough and the final crust. Your preferences may be different but I’m shooting for an “artisan” crust that is used by higher end pizza shops, a puffed up, slightly chewy, barely singed rim and a thicker, crispier than New York style bottom.

    Now to the problem it seems like most of you are having with the amount of flour to use in order to get a workable dough. The only way to really get a “eel” for the best dough is to weigh your flour. As many commenters have pointed out different flours absorb a different amount of water, so you can start with this and adjust as necessary to fit your flour. As I have found out, it varies even with different batches from the same product by the same manufacturer. I use King Arthur white whole wheat and sometimes KA whole wheat regular flour (not bread flour). If you look at their website under yeast bread and pizza dough flours it lists white whole wheat but not regular whole wheat and there’s a good reason for this. The white absorbs more water than the regular whole wheat and is much more suited to making pizza crust. I switched to white whole wheat for reasons of taste and texture and that’s when I had an ah-hah moment, I’m not an avid baker and it is much easier to work with.

    Now to the absolutely essential part: weigh your flour. The volume is meaningless since flours vary so much in their weight for a given volume by manufacturer and type, even if you sift your flour. It”s standard practice for the best amateur bakers, and from what I gather most commercial artisanal bakers. Even the sifter that you use and your methods influence the weight of flour. I started weighing my flour when I first got into sourdough breads and it made a world of difference as far as consistent results. I don’t think it’s necessary to weigh your gluten as small differences probably won’t significantly change your results. Using a dirt cheap digital kitchen scale that comes with a handy big cup. So after dozens of batches and with my KA flours I have come up with:

    White whole wheat – exactly 9 oz.
    Whole wheat – I haven’t played with the weight since I’ve only used it the few times my grocer was out of white whole wheat. What I did do is add 2 Tbl. of water to get it about right so also 9 oz.
    White – 11.5 oz. I know this defeats the purpose but I got desperate when I had to make 4 crusts for family card night and everyone showed up :)

    These are just my results, yours might be slightly different depending on the brand you use. They are just a tiny bit low so you don’t have to go backwards and add more water. Also essential is the way your work your dough. IMO rolled crusts are dismal and stretched crusts aren’t as good as artisanal shops and I’ve never made a pizza with either method. There are many YouTube videos demonstrating technique and it’s worth an hour watching them. I use a technique that’s much easier than the “spinning in the air” technique which for me anyway is more trouble that it’s worth and results in a New York style paper thin crust that I won’t even settle for in a pizza restaurant.

    What most effects the workability of the dough and final form of the crust is its consistency. When I was struggling with whole wheat breads, I hit on a site that nails it down, and is a little surprising for most folks. What you are shooting for is a dough that would rather stick to itself than the board or your hands and no stiffer. That’s far looser than most white flour doughs. Like the recipe says, add the flour in small increments and incorporate it fully each time. Also if you do this it’s easier to stop when you have it just about right and not have to add water to dough, which is much harder than adding flour. The oil in the dough make it easier to work with, if you need flour on your board then you have dough that is too loose. Adding a tiny bit of flour to stiffen up the dough is much easier than adding water. You can get too loose, if the dough starts to droop off your hands when forming the crust then it’s too loose. Knead like crazy, you can’t over-knead whole wheat flours – I knead for 7 minutes.

    For the rise, again yeast can handle much higher temperatures than conventional wisdom would have you believe. I have a pretty high end gas range and I’ve found that its “fast proofing mode” is both shortest and results in a dough that’s really easy to work with. I have the thermometer on so I can monitor the temp and it’s always between 115 and 120. I get a sufficient rise in exactly 30 minutes. Generous flouring of the bowl and the dough is essential for working up the crust. My technique is dumping the dough ball out onto one fist. Using one and then both fists work the dough in a circle by resting the outer part on one, then both fists. Turn and stretch it by the rim, not the center. Keep stretching and turning until the bottom of the crust is not quite see-through. Then onto a peel with a generous sprinkle of semolina flour. I use a shaker to get it evenly spread out. Then stretch only the rim if necessary until you get the size you are after, this recipe makes a pie about exactly the diameter of my cheap 15″ ceramic stone. Once you get it down you can work up a crust in a couple minutes.

    For baking I crank the oven up to 525 degrees on convection bake mode, if you read about crust you know that about the minimum is 500 degrees for a perfect crust, and more like 700 on up is what pizza shops use. I pre-bake for 3 minutes to make assembly much easier and the crust crispier, then assemble and bake 4-5 minutes until the crust barely starts to char. If it puffs up like crazy in the pre-bake it’s about right on for me.

    That’s it, sorry for the long post but I wanted to help folks struggling with the right quantity of flour and I got off track (and I’m waiting for my morning coffee to kick in)! You can reach me at t i m _ o r e r o c k o n @ yahoo if you have questions or observations to share :)

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