Sunday, November 2, 2008

Whole Wheat Pizza

In 1998 when Pizza Hut came to Pune it was greeted with the same kind of fanfare normally reserved by the Congress junta for Sharad Pawar’s motorcade. Residing on Jangli Maharaj road in a new construction built on the grave of a typical Puneri corner bungalow; Pizza Hut projected itself as an example of American fine dining. The Puneris ate it with a spoon, or by the slice to be precise. During the first few weeks, the line to get in was around the block. There was a host table outside the restaurant taking reservations. At the time the host had the same attitude as Sachin Tendulkar’s public relation’s manager. Everyone was apparently wasting his time and no one really seemed good enough to have a Pizza Hut slice. I, along with a few friends managed to get a table without waiting, as we knew “people”. Even at this low level of government, corruption did butt its ugly head. Once inside we were greeted with interior decoration that was trying too hard to be cool, arrogant waiters and lacklustre food. Once we placed the order, our waiter announced that the pizza would be ready in 37 min. One of my dining companion’s reminded the waiter that (in spite of it being Pizza Hut) we’re in Pune and they both knew that the 37 min means nothing, so he should just bring it when it comes out.” The food didn’t come out for a good 45 min. In the interim we were treated to an extremely embarrassing and poorly choreographed dance to the then popular song “Backstreet’s Back” courtsey of the Pizza Hut waitstaff who seemed just ashamed to be part of it. It was definite You Tube material. That was my first and last visit to any Pizza Hut, ever. To compensate, I have been experimenting at making pizza at home from scratch and getting somewhat successful at it.


For the base
5 cups Durum Wheat or Whole Wheat flour
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 packets Yeast
1 cup tepid Water
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Cornmeal
Salt to taste

1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 sliced Capsicum (Green Pepper)
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1 sliced Onion
1 sliced Tomato
6 sliced Olives
1/2 cup sliced Chicken marinated in Salt and Pepper

Click here for the sauce recipe.

Add yeast and sugar to the tepid water, stir and place aside for 10 minutes
When the mixture doubles in volume, the yeast is active
Add the mixture to the flour along with olive oil and salt
Knead the mixture to a dough adding water as necessary
Place dough aside for a hour; the dough should double in size
Knead the dough again and leave aside for 15 min
On a greased pizza stone (or a large baking pan) spread cornmeal evenly
Toss the dough into a 12” round base and gently place on top of the corn meal
Spread 1/2 sauce evenly over the base all the way up to the edge
Spread cheese evenly on pizza
Add toppings making sure not to add too many
Pre-heat oven to 400ยบ F
Place pizza stone on centre rack
Bake pizza till edges of the base appear deep brown
Serve with red pepper flakes