How to Make a Really Delicious and Nutritious Deep-Dish Pizza (and a loaf of bread, too)

Pizza is one of my favorite homemade comfort foods to make (click here for additional pictures and recipes). And while many believe it to be time-consuming and somewhat laborious--or even difficult--to make, it is neither. It's basically bread dough with stuff baked on it. Thus, when I bake pizza at home I usually make twice the amount of dough as needed and use half to make a loaf of rises and ferments while the pizza is baking. Over the years I've gravitated to baking almost exclusively with whole grains and whole wheat flour and this is no exception. What's a bit different about this particular recipe is that I made it a deep-dish pizza, meaning I made a sort of rim around  the edge to hold even more stuff (mmm...). And in this night's variety I used broccoli, which I par-cooked and chopped before adding it to the pizza, homemade tomato sauce, made with some of the last tomatoes from the garden (click here for a recipe), and a 3-cheese blend I had in the freezer.

The combination of the above said ingredients--for the dough and it's filling--translates, in my mind, to not only flavor but also nutrition...this is anything but junk food. As usual, these recipes are just suggestions; use your own adaptations for an equally good outcome. Anyhow, here it is in pictures and recipes.

7-Grain Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 1 (14'') pizza and a large loaf of bread
or 2 large loaves of bread
1 cup (6.6oz/187g) 7-grain mix
3 quarts (96floz/2.83L) water

fully cooked grains
2/3 cup (5.3 oz/157ml) cooking liquid
2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons (.5oz/14g) vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instant yeast

4 cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups (10.5fl oz/315ml) cooking liquid

1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) honey
1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) olive oil
3 teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) instant yeast
3 teaspoons (.5oz/14.1g) kosher salt

Combine the grain and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil; lower the heat to simmer and cook the rice for about 45 minutes or until very soft. As the grain cooks add more water to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of the recipe. After the grains are cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to room temperature, refrigerating if necessary. Then drain it, squeezing it with your hands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.

Place two bowls side-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the other autolyse. In one bowl combine the cooked and drained 7-grains with 2/3 cup (5.3 oz/157ml) of the cooking liquid, 2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons (.5oz/14g) vital wheat gluten, and 2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instant yeast. Stir just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap. In the other bowl combine 4 cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheat flour and 1 1/3 cups (10.5fl oz/315ml) cooking liquid; stir just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not to get yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at room temperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment will begin it's job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten.

After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3 teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains. Preheat an oven to 450f (232.2C).

Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Garden-Fresh Tomato Sauce

To see the original posting for this recipe--with additional pictures of it being made--click here.

(This is a simple but excellent tomato sauce that can be used as is or as a base for other sauces. I usually make this a few times throughout the summer months--as the tomatoes ripen in the garden--and freeze it in increments. This way I have homemade sauce throughout the winter. This recipe makes about 6 quarts but it's really just a guide)

4 quarts fresh tomatoes (click here to see them)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 bunch fresh basil

Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds; discard the seeds and dice the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a heavy sauce pan; add the onions, then the garlic, then the sugar, salt, fennel, and hot pepper. Add the diced tomatoes and the chicken broth (or vegetable broth). Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook the sauce for about 45 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened. Stir in whole basil leaves and remove from the heat. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Taste it for seasoning, then puree in a blender. Refrigerate until needed.