How to Make Whole Wheat Pizza

risen doughPizza, the way I make it, isn’t very labor-intensive; it only requires a little bit of advanced planning. Start two to three hours before you plan to eat. It’s way simpler than making bread, because there’s only one rising. Sure, you can buy a pre-made frozen crust, but good luck finding a whole wheat one. Chances are you’ll end up spending much too much money on a bunch of empty carbohydrates. Other advantages of making your own: kneading is a tremendous finger exercise, plus you can salt to your own taste. (Why is commercial pizza always so doggone salty?)

If you’re used to white-flour pizza, of course, this is a completely different animal. But I’ve been making this for years, and I’ve never had even the pickiest, most “non-crunchy” guests refuse to eat it!

To make enough for one 16-inch pizza or medium stromboli:

Heat 7/8 cup water (or 3/4 cup for a thinner pie — it will take a few minutes less to bake) to blood temperature.

Pour hot water over 1 tablespoon baking yeast in non-metalic bowl and let the yeast work for 5 minutes or so.

Add 1 tablespoon or more ground dried (or chopped fresh) rosemary, scant teaspoon salt, 1/3 c good olive oil, about 1/2 cup white flour (purists can eliminate, but it does make dough more elastic), and a cup or two whole wheat bread flour and stir everything up with plastic or wooden spoon.

Add more whole wheat flour in small increments and blend thoroughly with spoon or fingers, until dough just stops being sticky (it will still be somewhat oily, of course).

Turn out onto a bread board or counter top and knead for 5-10 minutes. This is an altogether different experience from kneading regular yeast bread, due to the absence of sugar, honey or molasses. You should find that the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers or to the board — if it does, give a little dusting more of flour.

Return to warmed, freshly oiled bowl, cover with dishtowel and let rise until you’re ready to begin baking.

I strongly recommend the use of a stone to keep the pie from getting too hard. Remember to place the stone in the oven when you turn it on to preheat at 400 degrees F.

A half hour before dinner, punch down dough, knead it a little bit (less than a minute) and roll it out into the approximate size and shape of the stone (if using a cookie tray, grease the tray and roll dough out on it). Spin it if you’re good (I’m not).

shaping the doughRemove stone from oven (you’ll need one of those humungous wooden spatula things), place dough on it and stretch or roll to fit. You may need to sprinkle the stone with a dusting of cornmeal if it’s still relatively new. You can roll the dough so it overlaps the edge of the stone by a couple inches, then crimp it up to fit for a nice, thick edge.

Add sauce at this point, but no toppings. (The simplest sauce is just a half-can of tomato paste with a little salt, a dash of wine, and maybe some oregano and basil. For a Mexican-style pizza, use tomato salsa, pureed or whole, mix mole with tomatoes, or use straight guacamole. Or skip sauce altogether in favor of a layer of cheese, say, or grated tofu if you’re a vegan. The important thing is to have a thin, moist layer on top of the dough at this point).

Bake for 10 minutes at 400, remove and turn oven down to 350.

Add cheese (if any), toppings, and a sprinkling of additional cheese if desired, and bake for 5-10 minutes longer. You can test its doneness by lifting one side of the pie with a large metal spatula and feeling the dough to see if it’s hard enough. I prefer it when it’s still bendy, but not so soft that picking up the pieces is difficult.

For stromboli, obviously everything (cheese, sauce, vegetables, etc.) goes in at once, the dough is folded over into a crescent and pinched shut. Cut a few slits with a sharp knife, and stick it in at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. It probably helps if the filling is hot to begin with.

finished pizza

Note on herbs: they can be added to the dough, to the sauce and/or the sauteed toppings. The same is true with garlic, although I think the sauce is the best place for it. Of course, the rosemary isn’t an integral part of the recipe, but I almost never make pizza or stromboli dough without it.

An earlier version of this recipe appeared on my now-defunct Geocities site back in 2003.

Posted in
Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

16 Comments


  1. I know what I’m fixing for supper tomorrow night; just wish I had a slice of that picture right now. Think the geniuses can ever figure out how to give us scratch and sniff computer screens? I guess I hope not. . .

    Reply

    1. Beth, I’m sure whatever you make tonight will be utterly delicious, and include some topping – sauce combo that never occurred to me (and I’ve never made two pizzas exactly alike).

      Reply

  2. When Dave warms up the other half of the pizza for supper tonight, it will be just about as good as it was last night. The picture does not do it justice.

    Reply

    1. Thanks Dad! One thing I forgot to point out is that whole wheat pizza, even with a thin crust, is still a lot more filling than the white-flour kind, and so when I cook for the three of us, we usually do end up stretching it into two meals. The challenge then, since we don’t have a microwave, is how to re-heat half a pizza without making it rock-hard. Lately my strategy is to bring it to room temperature first, then pop it in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes, on a cookie tray rather than the stone.

      Reply

  3. Thanks Dave. I’ll try it this weekend. Looks great. Hope you post more recipes.

    Reply

    1. I’ll try and do cooking posts a bit more often. It is, really, my most consistent creative outlet.

      Reply

  4. Just one question…could you please clarify if the water should be at *human* blood temperature or some other animal’s blood temperature?

    Seriously, though. Looks good. Is this the same recipe you used when I was there in October? When are you posting your bread recipe?

    Reply

    1. That would be human. Yeah, same recipe. One template, infinite variations. I can post the whole wheat bread recipe too, if you’d like.

      Reply

  5. There wouldn’t be any left-overs if I’d been there! Yum yum yum…

    Reply

  6. Wow, now I’m itching to make this! I don’t know why I ever stopped but you’ve inspired me with your version, thanks, Dave.

    Reply

  7. Way cool — I’ve saved this article under “Recipes”. I haven’t made pizza yet, but since I started baking my own bread, I just don’t buy supermarket bread anymore — there’s no comparison. Like you, I use about a third white flour, or up to half if I’m mixing stuff into the dough (onions, cheese, etc.). (Back in an earlier life, I found that all-whole-wheat lives had a nasty tendency to collapse into “bricks”.)

    Reply

    1. For regular bread, I now use 100% whole wheat flour and have no trouble with rising. Perhaps you’re using supermarket flour? I’ve had bad luck with some of those. We get medium or fine ground whole wheat bread flour (and all our other flours) in bulk from an Amish store, and before that from a natural foods store. I can post my bread-making method, but it’s based heavily on Mollie Katzen’s from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

      Reply

  8. In fact, I am using supermarket flour — it’s cheap, and I don’t bake enough to buy more than 5 pounds of each (wheat and white) at a time.

    That said, I haven’t actually tried 100% whole wheat lately, I just remembered the bricks from my college days. I have learned a few things since then, maybe I’ll try it sometime.

    My basic recipe is so simple that I remembered it from those college days: 1 lb flour to 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, one tablespoon each of sweetener and fat. (I actually make “pound-and-a-half” loaves, but same proportions.) I usually use honey and butter, but have been known to switch in olive oil and/or other sweeteners. (Maple syrup does interesting things to the texture!)

    Reply

    1. I thought I had my recipe typed up from when I posted it years ago at my old site — drat. I start with two and a half cups of water for a three-loaf batch (I don’t measure the flour). I generally use molasses and canola oil. I almost always add about a cup and a half of cooked multigrain cereal.

      Reply

      1. I guess you’re baking for your whole family? I usually make one loaf, which lasts about a week (unrefrigerated) before the remainder starts growing mold. I make two if I want to give someone a loaf. (I gave my boss at the bookstore a loaf last week; he liked that!) I should try molasses, lessee… <rummage rummage> …yup, I’ve got some in the closet.

        Going off on a tangent, my news crawl notes that Chinese archaeologists just turned up a 2,400-year-old pot of soup. The headline: “Anyone for leftovers?” (I’ve heard of century soups, but that’s pushing it! :-) )

        Reply

        1. Yeah, I put two of the three loaves in the freezer. I use a third of a cup of molasses, so try whatever a third of that is.

          I guess that’s what you call primordial soup.

          They’ve turned up some old beer pots in China, too — were even able to reconstruct the beer based on the traces.

          Reply

Leave a Reply