Thursday, May 7, 2015

Natural Yeast Sourdough Pizza Crust

I love pizza.  And being grain-free for a year meant being very creative with crusts.  I can't do standard yeast and gluten (my body reacts violently), but I can tolerate Natural Yeast with whole wheat flour that has been cultured by the yeast.  The inspiration for this recipe is a bread recipe from Melissa Richardson's "The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast."  It's a great resource for those wanting to explore the world of Natural Yeast.

And without further ado...YUMMY, FLAVORFUL Natural Yeast Sourdough Pizza Crust!  It is a light whole wheat sourdough infused with garlic and oregano flavor...hungry yet?  Add your favorite toppings and voila!  Delicious, healthy dinner for all!

Remember that these Natural Yeast recipes involve at least 6 hours of time when the dough is culturing on the counter.  So make the dough in the morning, set it on the counter and it will be ready for dinner. :)  Recipe makes 2-3 pizza crusts, depending on how thick you like your crust.  We stretch the crusts on to 3 cookie sheets that have been greased with butter or coconut oil.  One gets made into cheesy bread sticks (stretch to pan, pre-cut dough with pizza cutter into desired sized breadsticks, brush dough with melted butter, sprinkle garlic salt on top, add cheese and cook), and the other two are for pizza.

Natural Yeast Sourdough Pizza Crust
Dough Ingredients:
1 c. Natural Yeast Start
4 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
10-12 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 T. garlic powder

Combine Natural Yeast Start, water, salt, olive oil, oregano, garlic powder in a mixing bowl and mix until combined (you can do this by hand or use a KitchenAid/Bosch-style mixer).  Add 6 cups whole wheat flour and mix until combined.  Add additional flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and cleans the side of the bowl (if you need more instructions on this, there are tons of great tutorials on the internet).  After dough is desired texture, cover bowl in plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 6-12 hours (overnight if you want breakfast pizza).

When ready to eat (after at least 6 hours of dough culturing on the counter):

Preheat oven to 425F.

Remove plastic wrap from bowl.  Divide dough into two or three pieces.  Turn dough out onto a flat surface to shape.  Remember that if you are trying to achieve a low-gluten recipe, DO NOT ADD FLOUR to the dough.  Flour added at this stage has not been cultured by the yeast, so it will not be nutritionally available to your body, and the gluten has not been broken down for you.

Use a rolling pin to shape the dough as desired.  Place shaped dough in a greased pan (we use butter on Pampered Chef Stoneware).  Prick the dough with a fork 10 times in various places to prevent the "bubbles" in the crust.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Remove from oven, add toppings, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, depending on thickness of crust (until your crust is desired doneness and cheese is bubbly and gooey).

Need toppings inspiration?  How about Alfredo-chicken topping?  Or gourmet butternut squash sauce with spicy sausage and jack cheese?  Ranch pizza with bacon and chicken?  Or go classic cheese and pepperoni...ham and pineapple.

Want garlic breadsticks?  Roll out the dough, place dough into greased pan.  Brush dough with melted butter, sprinkle with garlic salt.  Then use a pizza cutter to pre-cut the dough into strips the size of breadsticks you want (leave them in place on the pan).  Top with cheese.  (Optional: let rise for up to an hour...but we are never patient enough for this step).  Bake 10-12 minutes, done when bottom begins to brown, dough is cooked in the middle, and cheese is bubbly and gooey.

I'm playing with the freezing directions for the crust.  I'll let you know when I get it mastered.  I think it will freeze best after being par-baked.

Natural Yeast Bread

After one year on the GAPS diet to heal our tummies and minds, we felt it was time to give natural yeast products a try.  Natural yeast is amazing.  It breaks down the grains before they hit your digestive system, so the body can access the nutrients it needs from the grains without fighting tough-to-digest gluten and other parts that are hard on the tummy.  After being gluten and grain-free for a year, I was stressed about trying it...we had a few experiences with gluten (most of them accidental snacks shared by friends to my children), and we knew we had gluten-sensitive tummies.  I attended a class and got a natural yeast start.  We gave it a go, and WOW.  We've been eating bread every day for two months without tummy problems.  I was making two batches a day (4 loaves), so I tweaked the recipe around until it tasted good to us and gave me three loaves, one for each meal.  It costs around 50 cents a loaf to make (we grind our own wheat), and is saving my family over $200 a month in food expenses.  So grateful.  Happy breadmaking!

Whole Wheat Natural Yeast Bread

3/8 cup natural yeast
3 1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
10-12 cups of whole wheat flour

This recipe makes 3 loaves of bread.  I burned out two KitchenAid mixers making this daily, so I've switched to Bosch and have had success without killing the motor.  If you need instructions on how to work with bread, and what to look for in textures, you can find many tutorials on YouTube.  I adapted recipes I've used for years from Kathy Summers' book Handmade Breads as well as the knowledge from Melissa Richardson's book The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast.

Place natural yeast, warm water, salt, and olive oil in mixing bowl.  Stir.  Add 7 cups whole wheat flour, mix until combined.  Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at at time until desired consistency is achieved.  Knead well.  Place in a large covered bowl on the counter to sour for 6-12 hours.  I use plastic wrap or plastic lid to keep dough from drying out in my dry mountain climate.  After souring is complete, divide dough into 3 pieces, and shape in to loaves.  Remember that any extra flour you add at this point will not be pre-digested by the yeast, so if you are gluten sensitive, it can cause a reaction.  When shaping the dough, I use butter on my fingers to keep the dough from sticking to my hands.  Place shaped dough in greased pans.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, of until cooked through.