As I was growing up, my mother made pizza on many Sunday nights. As I have struggled to come up with new recipes to post to my blog, I have found other ways of doing things. This week, I decided to try using semolina in the crust.
While I had heard of using semolina for a pizza crust, I had little idea of what exactly it was. Semolina is coarsely ground durum wheat that contains more middlings—the parts of the grain of wheat that are not flour—than white flour. As a result, semolina has more proteins, vitamins, lipids and minerals than regular flour. Semolina also has more gluten, a yellow color, and a distinct flavor.
Having never used this flour before I looked at a recipe in order to find somewhere to start. This recipe used a fifty/fifty blend of flours and a warm water dough. The resulting crust was a tender and did not raise very much.
The crust recipe I was using used warm water in the dough mix. Warm water causes the strands of gluten to link up only with the other strands near them. However, most of the gluten bonds link in on themselves. This makes for a very tender dough that is easy to roll out.
In response to complaints, I tried this recipe again a few days later. Instead of dividing the dough in half, I made four thin pizzas—trying to get a crisper crust. While all of these pizzas were tasty, my family was still not happy with the soft crusts.
Note: I will be posting another attempt later using a very different and more successful recipe.
Wife Jan’s favorite pizza is Hawaiian—with pineapple and Canadian bacon. I decided that instead of just tossing cold bits of fruit onto the pizza I would grill slices of the pineapple first. This turned out to be a very popular idea.
Karl’s Hawaiian Pizza with a Semolina Crust
1 cup bread flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 tsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast
¾ cup very warm water
3 Tbs. olive oil
Semolina for sprinkling on the pizza stone
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
2 tsp. oregano
1 lb. part skim mozzarella, grated
½ lb Canadian bacon
6 slices fresh pineapple, grilled
1. Put the flours, sugar, and salt into a large bowl and whisk—or sift—the ingredients together.
2. Put the yeast in a small cup and add ¼ cup of warm water.
Tip: If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast.
Note: The original recipe used “instant” yeast mixed directly into the flour mixture. I prefer to use active dry yeast and “proofing” it before adding it with the liquid ingredients. I think it give the yeast a better “jump start.”
3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the yeast, warm water, and two tablespoons of the olive oil.
Tip: Again you do not want the water to be too hot.
4. Mix until most of the dry flour has been absorbed and turn it out on a lightly floured board.
5. Knead the dough briefly until you have a smooth dough, 2-3 minutes.
Note: The hot water will have already bound most of the gluten bonds, so that the long kneading will not cause the strong gluten networks of some raised breads. You are just trying to make sure that all of the dry flour is fully incorporated.
6. Form the dough into a ball and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil into the bowl.
7. Put the dough ball into the bowl and coat it with the oil.
8. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place it in a warm spot.
9. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
10. While the dough is rising make the pizza sauce.
11. Put the olive oil in a medium sauté pan, over a medium heat, and add the garlic.
12. Sauté the garlic until fragrant, about one minute.
13. Add the tomato paste to the pan and sauté until the paste has darkened, about another minute.
14. Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano, and basil.
Tip: Scrape the tomato fond from the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching.
15. Simmer the sauce for 10-20 minutes, until the flavors have melded and the sauce has thickened.
Tip: Stir occasionally so that the tomato sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pan and scorch.
16. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool.
17. Grate the cheese and cut the ham and pineapple into medium small pieces.
18. Put a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat it while you are assembling your pizzas.
Tip: If you do not have a baking stone, you may use a cookie sheet.
18. Divide the dough into 2-4 equal parts and form them into balls.
Tip: I push the cut edge into the middle of the ball and pull the smooth sides around to the joint together at the bottom. This prevents the yeast gasses inside the dough—that causes it to rise—from escaping.
Note: I made this recipe twice in one week. The first time I divided the dough in half to make a thicker crust—see the picture above. My family wanted a crisper crust, so I divided the next recipe into four pieces, but still rolled the dough out to the same size making a very thin crust.
19. Taking one ball at a time, roll them out into a 10-12 inch disk on a lightly floured board.
20. Transfer the pizza to a peel that has been well dusted with cornmeal or semolina.
Tip: The course flour keeps the dough from sticking to the peel as you are sliding it into the oven.
Note: I use cookie sheets as peels. I use the modern, thick ones to slide the pizzas onto the baking stone, but I have an old, thin, steel cooking sheet to remove them from the oven.
21. Spread some of the pizza sauce over the dough and scatter some of the cheese, ham, and pineapple evenly over the sauce.
Tip: Let the pizza rise for 10-15 minutes, while you start preparing the next dough ball.
22. Bake the pizza for 12-14 minutes, rotating the pie halfway through the baking time.
Tip: Until the cheese has started to be spotty browned and the crust is lightly browned on the bottom.
Note: Lift up one edge to check the bottom of the crust.
23. Transfer the pizza to a wire rack to cool, for 5-10 minutes.
Tip: The cheese is hot and will burn your mouth, if you eat it too soon.
24. Continue until all of your pizzas are baked.