Ever have one of those moments when you realize just how much you don't know about something you've taken for granted? That was my first impression when I discovered these forums. I've been making pizzas every week now for about 15 months. It has become as much a tradition to me as anything else and I'm willing to go to pretty extreme lengths to see to it that I get my weekly pizza. And like traditions, it has become a sort of rut. I still love my pizzas but now I realize that there is so much more that I could be doing. My weekly pizza is an odd concoction that doesn't have an easy parallel here. One might call it a vegetable based deep dish without the deep dish. For one, I'm a vegan so the cheese used in my pizzas is a vegan "cheese" called VeganRella which while retaining a lot of mozzarella's characteristic flavor, does little to mimic its elasticity (which is a function of the milk protein casein). Secondly I don't have a deep dish pan; I used to cook on a stone (which I still have) and have been using an Airbake perforated aluminum pan recently for convenience sake (and the fact it is slightly larger). My pizzas are generally 15 inches in diameter, only limited by the size of the pan itself. However I haven't let the diameter of the pizza restrain my use of toppings. I usually use the following combination on my pizzas: 1.25 cups of asparagus chopped into 4-5 pieces per stalk, 18oz roasted red peppers diced, 20 oz broccoli florets cut into small sections, 20oz+ mixed mushrooms (about 3/4 cremini by weight with the rest being shitake and enoki) cut into thin slices, 3oz or so dried porcinis (reconstituted), 1 medium vidalia onion diced, 1 summer squash cut in thin slices, 1ish zucchini cut in thin slices, 220 grams or so sun dried tomatoes (reconstituted and chopped), lots of basil/oregano/pizza spice/etc, 1/2 block of VeganRella cheese, and Trader Joes Rustica sauce as a base. I don't have a picture handy but this represents a rather large "mound" of vegetables piled atop the crust which unfortunately doesn't have the sides to really hold. It is pretty spectacular to behold before it goes in the oven as the vegetables shrink considerably after the high heat cooking to probably half their initial volume (and unfortunately a lot of that water just drips onto the crust which I literally have to drain as I take it out of the oven).
The dough I've been using is a whole wheat dough of roughly these proportions: 4 cups white whole wheat (king arthur), 1/3 cup oat bran, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2/5 a cup of vital wheat gluten, little less than 1 tbsp Fleischman's active dry yeast, and enough water to get a workable dough. The biggest problem with the dough has been the tackiness when kneeding it which results in me using a considerable amount of bench flour. I don't have a stand mixer and I haven't ever let the water and flour mix and then sit (autlyse I believe you are all calling it). I've experimented once with an overnight rise but I believe I use too m uch yeast in my recipe for that as the dough had receded by the time I investigated in the morning.
So I want to improve my pizza. I've already ordered a dark, anodized 16inch deep dish pan with straight 2 inch sides. I have a digital scale for use measuring out the dough and ingredients. Ideally I would like a white whole wheat dough recipe that is sufficient to make two 16" pies with a nice semi thick/chewy crust. I'll be using an oven that isn't terrific but gets the job done with a fairly legitimate max temp of 550 degrees (I've been baking mine for 20 minutes at 500 and finishing at 550 for 12 minutes). Any other ideas would be appreciated; I hope to contribute some photos in the near future.