Whole wheat crust ideas

Started by youonlylivetwice, March 01, 2007, 01:59:55 PM

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Hi all,
Thought I'd go ahead and post a couple ideas for those interested in making a whole wheat crust.   I am certain there is no nirvana with respect to whole wheat and pizza, it just isn't the same.  having said that a good whole wheat stuffed pizza is still a whole lot better than lots of other things I end up eating, so why not!  I usually do a spinach or broccoli stuffed pie, mix the veggies with mozz then top it with a very spicy italian turkey sausage and sauce.
Anyway, the biggest tips I would throw out there are this;
1. add about a tbsp of orange juice for every 1.5-2 cups of flour.  I know this sounds weird if you haven't heard it before, I got the idea from the Whole Grain Baking book by King Arthur.  Something about the OJ cuts a bit of that wheaty flavor and really improves it.  I make WW bread all the time, and now sometimes with and sometimes without.  it is very noticeable.  For pizza crust I think adding the OJ does a LOT to improve it, I don't want the crust overly wheaty relative to the toppings.
2. add about 1 tbsp of potato flour or potato flakes for each cup of WW flour.  this really softens the dough and helps retain moisture.  Coupled with the OJ it makes a dramatic improvement in the dough.

I also like to add some vital wheat gluten, about a tsp per cup of flour, and I also like to use a more finely milled WW flour.  Finally I give the dough a good long time to hydrate before kneading.  just get it together then let it sit before kneading. 

Anyway, in case anyone goes searching on whole wheat here's a couple tips I have really adopted to improve my whole wheat crust. 

hope it helps~~~



Interesting ideas.  Sometimes I think we need a separate category on this forum for whole wheat.

I like the flavor of ww, especially white ww, and wouldn't want to diminish it, assuming it's fresh.  Why don't we see mill dates on flour bags instead of unrealistic "best by" dates?  I've started milling my own flour at Whole Foods Markets.

I use VWG, but I don't think it's a magic bullet.  I also use a sponge now, which augments the autolyse, in addition to providing more flavor.  A wet mix is probably even more important for ww than for refined flour.  A critical thing is that ww doesn't need just a little more water; it needs a lot more water.  The wet dough is hard to work with, but it's worth it.

An easy trick for biscuits is an equal blend of hard ww and ww pastry flours.  In addition to the appropriate protein level, the typically finer mill of the pastry flour improves the texture.  Whole wheat pastry flour seems to be easier to find than refined pastry flour.

I wonder why so many ww recipes one finds in books and on the web have such high amounts of oil.  I've read that fats can enhance rise, but I get good rise anyway with tiles. 

Some of the ww tips I've seen may apply less to pizza and more to other breads.



thanks for the thoughts Charbo.

for bread I do enjoy that full ww flavor, but in pizza I really do like how the oj cuts that (is it bitter sort of?) flavor of the wheat.  when I go for more of a multi-grain bread with a ww base I do use the oj.
I also think the VWG isn't necessary, but I do continue to use it.  I think just because I most often use high-gluten flour for regular dough and so I try to follow suit by upping the gluten in the ww.

I guess I have never really thought of it as an autolyse so much as simply time to allow the wheat flour to hydrate.  it seems to mix so much better if you give it a good rest after a brief mix.  you are absolutely right about needing LOTS more water to get it right.

you got me thinking on the pastry flour now.  I think I am going to swing by the store on the way home and grab some for this weekend.

I also agree on the oil.  I do often add soy lecithin to my ww breads.  I am not sure I notice the difference, but I have it around and so continue to use it.  I can't say I am at all disappointed.


I'd like to keep this thread alive in order to get additional comment regarding whole wheat (WW) from those with more baking experience than myself.  The advice below comes from King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking, the tips and newsletters at the San Francisco Baking Institute website, and various other books and sites.  My comment above about blending hard and soft WW flour for biscuits comes from Robertson's whole grain bread book.

   a.  The oil in the germ of the of the wheat will go rancid.  Stored at room temperature, the flour is only good for 1-2 months after milling.  Refrigerated, it's good a few more months.  It's best to freeze the flour.

   b  The bran is quite absorbent.  I think Tom Lehman recommended increasing water by 10% for WW pizza.  I assume his recommendation was for a mass-production environment.  For a light crust, I think one needs at least 75% hydration.

   c.  Whole wheat, especially a coarser mill, needs time to absorb the water.  An autolyse is helpful to ease kneading and to lessen the chance of adding too much additional flour.

   d.  For many types of pizza and formed loaves made with a large proportion of WW, the dough's gluten will need to be strengthened by one or more of the following techniques:

      1.  Acidification. Use a preferment, sourdough, etc.  Buttermilk is often recommended for WW.

      2.  Several, gentle stretch-and-fold's during fermentation.

      3.  Mixing 50-75% of the flour and all of the water for several minutes.

      4.  Long kneading, if one wants a fine crumb.

      5.  Adding vital wheat gluten.  Unless extended kneading is also done, the VWG will merely add chewiness. 

   e.  WW ferments quickly, and the gluten degrades quickly -- resulting in what's called low fermentation tolerance.  Avoid long proofing with lots of yeast and warm temperature.

   f.  The higher hydration mentioned above necessitates a longer cooking time at a lower oven temperature.  This will also let the yeast give more push.

Achieving the right balance of elasticity and extensibility in a dough with a high proportion of WW is challenging, but doable.  I'm not a 100% WW purist.  I usually use a blend of 70-75% WW for pizza these days.  That's enough to give me plenty of fiber in my overall diet.  I recently found that the phytate in wheat bran interferes somewhat with calcium absorption. 

I'm surprised that more people don't blend at least 25% WW for nutrition and flavor.     


Thanks to both of you for sharing information and experience with WW in your dough. I've recently begun adding WW to my dough and I'm slowly getting the hang of it. I really like the flavour that WW adds to my dough. Right now, I'm working on finding a better crumb result for my dough.