My husband has been in grad school for the past four years while I have been at home with our two kids – so getting a babysitter and going out on a dinner and movie date is a rare thing on a student budget. We have this fun little Friday date night tradition that we started about 3 years ago. I feed the kids early, we toss the kids into bed promptly at 7:00 PM, I make pizza and we enjoy our meal and maybe a few extra treats without any disruptions from kids while watching the latest Netflix movies. Good thing we decided to blow some of our pre-grad school savings on a TV…for the price of 10 dinner and movie date nights, we’ve shared hundreds of dinner and movie date nights over the past couple of years in front of that TV –and no babysitter required!
I’ve been making pizza from scratch pretty much every single Friday for the past 3 years. In those 3 years, I feel like I’ve perfected the whole wheat pizza crust (through A LOT of trial and error…I must admit, the first couple of times were disasterous). I’ve tried 100% whole wheat flour pizza crusts and always feel like the texture is too tough. 100% white flour pizza crusts lack the nutty flavor and extra nutritional content that whole wheat offers….so mine is a mixture of mostly whole wheat and a little unbleached all-purpose flour. I’ve done pizzas with and without cornmeal (don’t really care for cornmeal). I’ve used pizza stones and pizza pans. After these 3 years, I feel like I pretty much have my pizza making skills down to a science…..minus tossing the dough in the air, I might need another 3 years alone just to accomplish that.
So here is my beloved whole wheat pizza crust recipe and instructions:
6 and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp + 2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp sugar
3 and 3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 1/4 tsp olive oil
Add all ingredients (except for olive oil) in to a large bowl or stand-up mixer bowl. Using the dough hook, mix on low for 9 minutes. Add olive oil and mix for an additional minute until dough is evenly coated. Cover bowl with saran wrap and let rise for a couple of hours. When you wish to use the dough, liberally coat your hands with flour and punch down the dough using your fists. Then dump the dough on a floured surface and knead it for a minute. Use as much flour as you need for it not to stick. Separate dough into 4 even balls (I like to use my electric food scale). I’ve used pizza stones before, but I personally prefer the airbake pizza pan that I bought from Target for around $10. I then spray the airbake pizza pan with non-stick baking spray (the kind made with flour). Spread out the dough on the pizza pan to create a crust as thick or thin as you like (we prefer our pizzas on the thinner side). Then top with sauce, shredded mozzarella and your favorite pizza toppings. Some of our favorite toppings are onions, arugula, goat cheese and bacon…..delicious!
Optional dough additions:
-8-10 cloves of garlic, minced
-Italian seasoning or herbs of your choice
Bake at 500-515 degrees Fahrenheit for 9 minutes.
Makes 4 large pizzas
Freezing pizza dough tips: Liberally coat the ball of dough in flour. Wrap twice in saran wrap (wrapping twice will prevent your dough from escaping when it expands while thawing out). Place in freezer Ziploc. On the day you wish to make pizza, pull the frozen pizza dough out of the freezer and let thaw. You’ll need a minimum of 6-8 hours to defrost the pizza dough.
Now you’ve heard what our cheap date night consists of….what are some of your favorite cheap or free date nights?