With a bunch of half and half and milk in the refrigerator reaching their expiration, I decided to make something with a white sauce. Bechamel sauce is one of those recipes I’m trying to learn so I can do it by heart without needing to look at a recipe. I’ve also been in the mood to make pizza. I’m pretty much always in the mood for pizza, but hold myself back from having it at every meal.
Pizza dough adapted from Leisurely Pizza Dough found in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
For the dough, I experimented with sifting the hard white wheat flour I made with my grain mill and sprinkling the bran over the dough before baking. I wanted to see what would happen if the flour was a finer texture — whether it would act more like all-purpose flour.
When kneading (this took about 7 minutes), bits of bran were still visible in the dough, so it wasn’t super smooth like all-purpose.
The dough rested in a covered, oiled bowl, at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours. Then I moved it to the refrigerator for about 6 hours, then back out to the counter for 1 1/2 hours.
While shaping the dough for the pan, I do think it was slightly more pliable than the unsifted whole wheat dough as I normally make it. Instead of adding the toppings and baking immediately after shaping the dough, I let it rest for 30 minutes in order to spring back to life a bit. I’ve found that baking shortly after shaping makes the crust a bit too tough for me.
After that 30-minute rest while the oven heated up, I added the toppings:
- the sifted bran, sprinkled evenly over the surface of the dough
- 3/4 cup of white sauce (bechamel), with sauteed garlic
- 1 cup of shredded low-moisture mozzarella
- herb blend of thyme, oregano, basil, and rosemary, equalling about 1 teaspoon
- few shakes of red pepper flakes
- a sprinkling of coarse sea salt
- a bit of freshly-ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan
After baking, I sprinkled on another 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
I was floored at how soft and tender the pizza crust was. I’m not sure whether it had more to do with the sifting or the 30-minute rest, but I loved the result. It’s not in the same ballpark as the wood-fired artisan pizzas from restaurants, but was delicious pizza nonetheless. The rich white sauce and cheeses, plus the garlic and herbs, complemented the rustic and earthy taste of the crust. Amazingly, the layer of bran was undetectable.
I’m counting the hours until I get to have the leftovers!