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- 4 cups whole wheat or white flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 1 packet of yeast, or 3 teaspoons
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1-1/3 cups warm water
In a big bowl combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Mix it up together with a fork or spoon. Add the oil and warm water. The water should be luke warm, not hot. I tap water that is warm when I stick my finger in it, like a baby’s bath water, about 100°. Use a wooden spoon to stir all of this up until it begins to form a soft dough. Take out the spoon and dig in with your hands. If you use a big enough bowl, you can knead the dough right in the bowl. This is how I usually do it, because it saves the mess and bother of cleaning up the counter. The dough doesn’t have to be kneaded as much as regular bread dough. Usually I do it for about two minutes, or until the dough is smooth, resilient and well formed. Next the dough has to rest for twenty minutes. Sometimes I rest it for as little as ten minutes, but the best results are obtained from allowing it to rest the full twenty minutes. The reason for this step has to do with gluten, or the protein in the flour. Kneading the dough activates the protein. It also makes the dough difficult to roll out because it keeps trying to stay in a ball, instead of cooperating and becoming flat. Allowing the dough to rest makes the job of pressing the dough into the pan easier because the gluten relaxes and then the dough is very easy and cooperative about flattening out into a round pizza shape (or rectangle shape, or whatever).
After the dough has rested for a while, divide it into two balls to press into your pans. This amount of dough is enough to cover 2 round pizza pans or 2 – 9 by 13-inch rectangular pans. If you have a bevy of boy scouts, or a gaggle of girl scouts, give them each their own pie or cake pan, and let them make individual pizzas. This recipe will make 4 to 6 pie-plate sized pizzas. They will think you are the finest den mother in town.
Press the dough into the pans, to the best of your ability. Then the crusts must be PRE-BAKED before filling. Preheat your oven to 425°. Bake the plain crusts for about 8 minutes, or until they puff up and appear slightly dry on the surface. This is the only way I have been able to make sure these crusts cooks clear through when I make pizza. If I don’t prebake these crusts, I end up with under cooked pizza centers. The kids don’t actually notice things like this, but I do, and I prefer the crusts to be thoroughly cooked, so I ALWAYS pre-bake the crusts from this recipe.
Remove the partially cooked crusts from the oven. Top with tomato sauce, cheese and what ever else you like. We make a lot of half and half pizzas, so every one can choose their own toppings. Regardless, bake at 425° until the cheese is hot and bubbly, or about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly before eating so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth. Makes 2 large round pizzas or 2 rectangular ones.
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