The Home-Based Pizza Factory

– Includes Whole Wheat, Vegan Pizza Recipe –

Actually, it is not exactly a factory per se, even though a good part of the work is mechanized: I use my bread machine for preparing the dough. However it does not involve mass production, neither is it centered on profitability.

But it is profitable, in the sense that I always have a stack of two or three ready-to bake pizzas in the freezer, which comes in very handy when you’re in a rush and have no time to prepare something intelligent for lunch or dinner.

And, not to forget, it is quite profitable for our health: the crust is made with whole wheat flour and topped with fresh veggies.

 

How it All Started

Years ago someone introduced me to bread baking. After the initial enthusiasm, followed by a period of trial and error and a few hiccups, I can proudly say that now I am able to bake perfect and super-tasty bread at home.

For the dough I use my bread machine, which does the hard work, and then I bake the bread in the oven.

While at it, I eventually realized that with the exact same dough I could also make pizza crusts!

There was but one problem: the amount of flour needed for one pizza is relatively small, and the bread machine doesn’t work well with small quantities – it becomes a bit unbalanced. So for a good while I still made the pizza dough by hand. (Actually I let my younger daughter do it; she was the “pizza specialist” in our home.)

Then one beautiful day I had this idea: why not use the bread machine at its full potential and prepare dough not for one, but for more pizza crusts? We could bake one of them and freeze the rest for later use, I reckoned.

As it turned out, this was a brilliant solution (pat myself on back).

One batch of dough yields 4 – yes, four! – thin(ner) pizza crusts of 12 to 15 inches in diameter.*)

Moreover, I also realized that, instead of freezing just the crusts, I’d better top them all at the same time, and then pop them in the freezer – for a convenient and tasty no-work meal ready in about 20 minutes. Just preheat the oven at 450F, take the pizza from the freezer and place it directly in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

Remember that TV commercial with “It’s not delivery, it’s Delissio”? Well, in our home it’s not Delissio, but it’s still delicious. Actually I do like my pizza more, and I think it’s been ages since we’ve bought any frozen pizza.

*) I said 12 to 15 inches because I never really manage to make the crusts equal size. Some turn out bigger, some smaller, and they’re not perfectly round either. But they’re good….

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And now (drum rolls…) the basic recipe:

Pizza Dough –Whole Wheat & Vegan
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 ½ cups water
  2. ¼ teaspoon sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon salt – or less, to taste
  4. 4 ½ cups flour (1 cup all-purpose + 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour)
  5. 2 teaspoons granulated yeast
  6. Additional: some olive oil (about ¼ cup) will make the dough tenderer
Instructions
  1. Set bread machine on “dough” and turn it on. The dough should be ready in about 1 ½ hours, and meanwhile you can start preparing the toppings, to have them handy.
  2. After the dough is done, leave it in the machine for another 15 – 20 minutes. The machine keeps it warm so the dough will continue rising.
  3. Pour dough on a floured surface and knead a little to squish out the air bubbles. Sprinkle more flour if needed, so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. Divide dough into four approximately equal balls.
  6. One by one, flatten and stretch them into thin crusts, about ¼ inches (5 -6 mm) thick, or less.
  7. Place each on a pizza pan *) and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  8. If you don’t have enough pizza pans, slide the baked crust on a cutting board or another clean surface, and reuse the pan to bake the next crust.
  9. Top crusts as desired, place in the oven again and bake for another 15 to 20 min,
  10. or
  11. top as desired, leave the crust on the pan and place in the freezer for 15 - 20 minutes. Once the crust is hardened, either wrap it in shrink-wrap or place in a big enough plastic bag, and put back in the freezer (without the pan, as it is not needed anymore for support).
  12. You will now have a nice stack of three – or four – frozen, ready-to bake pizzas. Isn’t that neat?
  13. The good thing with this “assembly line” style is that you prepare all pizzas at the same time; you work once and get four meals. If other family members are willing to help, the pizzas will be ready in the blink of an eye.
Notes
  1. *) while pizza pans are certainly useful for handling the pizza and moving it in and out of the oven, I highly recommend a pizza stone for baking. If you want a really good, crispy crust, nothing beats the pizza stone.
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 The Toppings

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Before the dough becomes ready, prepare the following ingredients to have on hand:

The amounts indicated are for 4(four) 12-15 inch pizzas

Classic Marinara

some olive oil to lightly brush the crust

one 6-oz (170 g) can of tomato paste4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly or crushed

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Method:

spread a thin, even layer of tomato paste on each crust, then sprinkle garlic and oregano on top

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(Vegan) Cheese Pizza

some olive oil to lightly brush the crust

one 6-oz (170 g) can of tomato paste

1 to 2 packages (8 oz /227 g) of Daya vegan cheese – or 3-4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, depending on how much cheese you like on your pizza

Optional but recommended: 2 sprigs of fresh basil, minced

Method:

spread a thin, even layer of tomato paste on each crust, top with shredded cheese and sprinkle basil leaves if desired

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Veggie Pizza

some olive oil to lightly brush the crust

one 6-oz (170 g) can of tomato paste

thinly sliced*) vegetables like mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, the green part of shallotsPlus corn kernels (frozen or canned), sliced olives, artichoke leaves, spinach leaves, small broccoli florets, asparagus… whatever you like and have on hand

1 to 2 packages (8 oz /227 g) of Daya vegan cheese – or 3-4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, depending on how much cheese you like on your pizza

*) Thinly sliced is the secret: the amount of veggies on the pizza will be just right, the tastes will be balanced, and they bake faster, too.  

Method: spread a thin, even layer of tomato paste on each crust, top with the veggies and the shredded cheese

 
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Epilogue

There was an article on Yahoo the other day, stating that pizza is one of the culprits of childhood obesity in the US.

For sure the white flour crusts, the ketchup containing high-fructose corn syrup, the pepperoni with sodium nitrate, and – let’s not forget – the soda we usually drink with it, are not only making people fat, they are slowly making them sick, too.

But that shouldn’t mean all pizza is bad for you. If made right, it is both nutritious and great-tasting, and the children will love it.

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All photos were taken by me

 


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