Close to Perfection Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

The first time I tried this recipe, I’d been on a quest to find the perfect Whole Wheat Pizza Dough for a little while.

I was looking for a crust that, despite being made entirely of whole grain flour, wouldn’t feel heavy as a brick;

It was looking for a crust that would have nice pockets of air throughout;

I was looking for a crust that wouldn’t feel like I was eating a mouthful of bread with every single bite; it had to be relatively thin, but not too thin! I didn’t want a loaf of bread, but I didn’t want a cracker either.

More importantly, I was looking for a crust that would have a nice crunch to it.

As soon as I took the first bite in this one, I knew that my search was over. I had found the perfect recipe to work with. Soon, very soon, I’ll start playing with it. I’ll start adding other grains and seeds. But before I do that, I need to really master this base recipe. I need to be able to make it without even reading the recipe.

And since it seems like every time I make it, I end up asking myself the same questions, I thought I would take a few pictures while making it and give it its very own entry on here, just to make my life easier, you know. And yours, of course, if you ever feel like giving it a try, which I strongly recommend that you do, by the way!

The recipe might look like it’s extremely complicated and extensive to make, but trust me, it’s not. All you need to do is make sure you have plenty of time ahead of you and that you will be able to care for your dough when it needs you.

It’s not an exact science, but you can’t let it go for too long when it requires your attention.

It’s a food of love thing, you know…

WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA DOUGH
Makes four 10-12 inch pizzas

Nutritional Information
Calories per each of 4 servings: 520 calories
Carbs 103g  | Fat 7g | Protein 21g

Slightly adapted from Deliciously Organic

THE PREVIOUS NIGHT (or at least 12 to 24 hours prior to pizza time)

 Soaker (pictured in the green bowl)

  • 1¾ cups whole wheat flour (not pastry flour)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp water
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl for about 1 minute.
  2. Cover tightly with plastic film and place in the refrigerator overnight (at least 8 but no more than 24 hours)

Biga (pictured in the blue bowl)

  • 1¾ cups whole wheat flour (not pastry flour)
  • 2 tbsp gluten flour (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon rapid-rise yeast (I’ve had success with active dry yeast also)
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp water
  1. Mix all the biga ingredients together in a bowl until they form a ball of dough. Using wet hands, knead the dough for 2 minutes, the dough will feel very tacky.
  2. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then knead it again (with wet hands) for 1 minute. Lightly coat a bowl with olive oil or cooking spray and place the dough in it, turning it over to coat all sides evenly
  3. Cover tightly with plastic film and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 but no more than 24 hours)

At that stage, there is so little difference between the biga and the soaker that I always feel the need to think of a creative way to remember which is which. Not that it matters, really, because you’ll end up stacking both on top of one another, and I don’t think it matters who is on top of who, here. But still. I like to be able to easily tell them apart.

This time, I put the Biga in a Blue bowl. B for Blue, B for Biga. Get it? ;)

So, pictured below is what you see right after you are done with the initial mixing of the doughs, followed by what they look like the next morning (or after resting in the fridge for 10-12 hours) and finally, what they look like after resting for 2 to 3 hours out of the fridge.

 

Final Dough

  • Biga
  • Soaker
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour (not pastry flour)
  • ¾ tablespoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (I’ve had success with active dry yeast also)
  • 2¼ teaspoons honey or 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (molasses gives a great color and flavor to the dough)
  • 1 tbps olive oil
  • Extra whole wheat flour for adjustments
  1. The next day – Remove the biga from the fridge 2 to 3 hours before mixing the final dough to take off the chill.
  2. Place the biga on a floured surface. Pull the soaker out of its bowl and place it on top of the biga (you will stack the doughs on top of one another).

  1. Using a metal pastry scraper or knife, chop the doughs into 12-18 pieces. Place pieces in the bowl of a standing mixer (*see notes below for instructions to mix by hand).
  2. Add the ¼ cup whole wheat flour, salt, yeast, honey or molasses, and olive oil to the dough. Mix with the dough hook medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes until the doughs become cohesive. Add more flour or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly tacky.


  1. Turn the dough over to a floured working surface and form it into a tight ball. (** see below if you want to freeze or use dough again the next day)
  2. Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil or cooking spray and place the dough in it, turning it over to coat all sides evenly. Cover loosely with plastic film and let the dough rise for 1 hour.


  1. Preheat the oven to 500ºF and adjust rack to middle position.
  2. Turn the ball over onto a floured work surface and cut into 4 pieces and delicately form each piece into a loose ball.


  1. Using a rolling-pin, stretch or roll out each ball of dough to a 12-inch diameter disk. (I like to dust my work surface with corn meal instead of flour at this point, as it gives a nice crunch to the crust.)
  2. Transfer disc to a pizza pan, top with toppings of your choice and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on toppings and desired level of doneness.


Check out that crust!

Care to guess what my next post will be about?

*To mix by hand: Place the dough pieces in a large bowl. Add the ¼ cup of whole wheat flour, salt, yeast, honey or molasses and olive oil to the dough. Knead with wet hands for 2 minutes until all of the ingredients are incorporated. The dough should be soft and slightly tacky.

Dust a work surface with flour and roll the dough in the flour to coat. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes, incorporating only as much flour as needed until the dough is soft and tacky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and oil it with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Knead the dough again for 1 minute. Continue at step 5.

*To freeze or use the next day: If you aren’t going to make all 4 pizzas right away, cut the dough into 4 pieces and form each piece into a tight ball, THEN let however many you want rise individually. Those that you aren’t going to use right away,  wrap in plastic film and keep them in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or put them in the freezer for up to a month. When you plan on making pizza again, just take the dough out of the freezer 2 days prior and take it out of the fridge to rise 2 hours (unwrap and cover loosely) before you are ready to use it. It will be just as good as fresh!

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Comments

  1. says

    Whoo that looks so good! I’ve never seen this way of making pizza dough and I’m intrigued. Looks great and love the fact that its whole wheat!

  2. says

    We eat whole grain pizza every week, and although we love our recipe, I think we’d both like a change every now and then. I’ll definitely try this next time! I love that you can freeze it. And that it uses a biga. Everything I’ve ever made with biga turns out really, really well. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Shanna says

    I love making homemade pizza, but, like you, have had a hard time finding a crust that didn’t taste like cardboard. I like putting a bunch of toppings out on the table and each of us creating our own pizza. Gets the kids involved and dinner becomes interactive and creative!

  4. says

    Mmm, I love adding a bit of whole wheat to my pizza dough (accompanied with a bit of gluten as you do here). I think it lends a nice subtle flavour and really helps with the crispiness! Cheers for posting this and giving whole wheat pizza crusts a good name :D

  5. Jordan says

    Ahh! Perfection! I have been really wanting to make some homemade whole wheat pizza dough but I have been to chicken to try and really havent found a recipe that I think could result in what I am looking for. But duh duh duuuhh.. I believe I have found it. I am a little giddy right now. Any ideas on recipes to use it for besides pizza?

  6. says

    Using the color of the bowls to remember which dough is which, is a neat idea. You can also use a dry-erase marker to label the bowls. I put all my food things in different sized canning jars, and mark the jar and the lid with a dry-erase marker. It comes off easily (and sometimes accidentally, but since the lid and jar are marked, one is likely to survive to identify the contents…it’s also easy to re-mark them if needed). This is much easier than trying to use stick-on labels.

  7. says

    I just finished eating this and it was amazing! The only thing I did differently was to use whole spelt and I cut the dough into three pieces instead of four because we’re pigs. If you haven’t had whole grain pizza before, you should just stop looking and make this one. It takes a little extra time with the biga and starter, but you get a few pizza crusts so it’s really a time saver in the end. This recipe will be alternated with my other favorite whole grain pizza. Thanks for the recipe!

    • says

      Oh yay! I’m so happy you liked the dough, Erin. To be honest, I was a bit nervous that you wouldn’t, especially since you already have a recipe that works for you. I love the fact that you used spelt (and that it worked), now I know I can do it too. Did you also use the gluten flour? I am sooo trying the spelt version next time. Oh, I wish I didn’t have any left in the freezer. Now next time just seems so far away!!!

      Thanks for your awesome feedback, as always, I really appreciate!! :D

      • says

        And I was nervous that I would hate mine after having yours. So I’m happy to say that I love them both! Though after having another taste I think yours might come out victorious. :) I use whole spelt in everything instead of whole wheat, and normally (at least for me) there’s no difference, except for the less whole grainy taste, but I forgot there’s a difference when making bread. So reduce the water! I ended up using quite a bit more flour, but next time I’ll leave out 2 tablespoons of water in the biga and starter. I used gluten, honey and normal yeast. Give your dough away to some people you really like but need to be converted to whole grains. :)

      • says

        Bah, no worries, I get the feeling I’ll be using it pretty soon! Then I’ll be able to test the spelt flour. Really, you find that it takes less water when using spelt? I never noticed that, but then again, I haven’t made that many breads with it, mostly cakes and muffins. I find it tends to make baked goods more dense, I can’t wait to see the difference that it makes with that dough. I get the feeling that I will like it even more! (you know me and dense things!!!) Thanks for all the tips Erin, I truly appreciate that. :)

      • says

        With whole spelt, I never reduce the water in cakes, muffins, cupcakes, etc. The internet says you’re supposed to reduce the water in everything by 10-25%, but I don’t. Only for yeast bread! I had to add almost an extra cup of flour when making this dough, and it was still on the gooey side. So next time I’ll reduce the water like I’m supposed to. I can’t imagine the dough being even better, but maybe it will be. :)

      • says

        Good to know! So I’ll use spelt and reduce water by 25%, and add more as needed. I’m also planning on adding a little bit of 5 grain flour. Oh, I can’t wait for that next batch. Come on, Sonia, couldn’t you eat pizza already? I have to get that on the menu for next week-end! ;)

  8. kate h. says

    Hi-looking forward to making this dough. I have a “fear of yeast” but this recipe is intriguing and going to force me to take the plunge! I do have a question-what is the science in having the Biga come out early and taking the chill off of it–and not the Soaker before mixing the two together? Just curious. Love anything with butternut squash and can’t wait for Friday night pizza! I am new to your site and excited to explore more recipes.

  9. Evan says

    Question: so once the dough has been mixed and divided, you’ve reached the turning point between freezing and using it fresh. However many you’re using fresh get risen for an hour and the rest go straight into the freezer, right? The instructions for freezing the dough say just pull it out two days before and then thaw a couple hours outside the fridge and use it, with no mention of another rise. Does that mean that the dough you freeze never gets the additional hour of rising, but will end up with the same consistency as the dough that you make fresh?

    I can’t wait to try this recipe this weekend!

    Evan

    • says

      Sorry Evan, I had totally missed your question…

      Actually, the dough thaws during the 2 days that it spends in the fridge and rises during the 2 hours that it spends out of the fridge. It rises for 2 hours instead of one because it’s colder than the fresh version. Mayube I should’ve mentioned to let the dough rise out of the fridge for 2 hours, instead of just saying take it out of the fridge. I’ll go and revisit my post…

      Hope this clarifies things for you!

  10. says

    I just made the biga and the soaker, and they are sitting in the fridge. I have a question about what to do the next day with the soaker. The instructions state to take out the biga 2-3 hours ahead of time. Do we take out the soaker ahead of time, too? I cannot tell from the instructions. Thank you so much. I look forward to trying out this dough.

    • says

      You don’t have to take it out, but I usually do. That way I don’t have to try and figure out which is which (for some reason, I always have a hard time telling them apart…) I really hope you like this pizza dough! Please come back and share your impressions when you’re done and the crust is long gone! ;)

      • says

        Thank you so much for replying so quickly. My mother really enjoyed this crust. I felt it was a tad sweet and a bit too thick even after flattening it out, but I think the latter problem was related to the type of wheat flour I used (my mom’s old wheat flour because I couldn’t find my King Arthur Wheat Flour until the very next day! ARGH!). Anyway, my mother was crazy about it, and that is all that mattered. I still think it was good, especially for wheat crust. I’m sure I’ll be making this again for my mom. Thank you for sharing this recipe and the detailed photos!

      • says

        Glad you had great success and that you mom liked the crust so much! Did you use honey or molasses? I find it’s sweeter with molasses. Also, you could probably use a little less without really affecting the end result. And did you use the gluten flour? This tends to make it more airy, so maybe a little bit “thicker”. And I guess, like you said, all flours aren’t created equal. Now you have to try it again with your preferred flour ;) Also, I always make sure to get my dough really nice and flat before I start dressing my pizzas, that way I know it won’t rise too much as it cooks. Thanks YOU so much for taking the time to leave such great feedback, I truly appreciate that! :D

  11. Susie says

    Just made this dough- fantastic! Have been dying to since you posted it. I’m a huge yeast fan so chucked another sprinkle in it and the crust rose beautifully. Takes time but not too much effort so a great pizza recipe to have on hand. No adjustments from me (which is probably a first). Now I’m off to make the roasted chickpeas! Thanks :).

    • says

      Fantastic! I’m so happy to hear that the recipe worked for you and that you were truly happy with the end result. To have someone like something that I really like is just the best feeling in the world. Thank you so much for sharing your impressions. I truly appreciate that! :D

  12. leslie says

    Any idea of the nutrional facts? I’m calorie counting big time right now but pizza is my weakness! So I’m going to try this with lots of veggies on top!

    • says

      Hmmm… I’m real sorry, Leslie, I can’t remember. I know I had sort of crunched in the numbers back then, just to get an idea of what I was looking at. I always try and keep my pizzas at under 1200 calories, total. I THINK that the dough counted for around 500 of them. Definitely not a low-cal meal, but a great treat it is! :D

  13. Libby says

    I’ve been trying to find some healthy recipes as I try to eat a little healthier. Tried your pizza dough and I LOVE it! It’s perfect. I will definitely be making this again in the future.

  14. Dolly says

    HI,

    Is there a whole wheat flour brand that you recommend? I am planning to make the very first pizza of my life this weekend(fingers crossed)!
    Also is it better to use a pizza pan or a pizza stone.

    Thanks
    Dolly

    • says

      Hey Dolly,

      I use La Meunerie Milanaise‘s products, but I doubt that they are available where you are… If I couldn’t get my hands on their products, I would definitely turn to Bob’s Red Mill‘s. They have an amazing array of high quality products. Can’t go wrong with them! :)

      I’ve always made my pizzas using a pan and have had great success. However, I really wish I owned a pizza stone, for apparently it makes a huge difference and makes for a much crispier pizza. I have yet to give that one a try. ;)

      Good luck on making your very first pizza. I’m sure it’ll be the best pizza you ever had. Please, please do come back and share your experience! :D

      • Dolly says

        Hi Sonia,

        I am putting a slice in to my mouth as I am typing this – its awesome!!!!I couldnt wait, I had to give the feedback to you right away!
        I am soooo happy I can’t explain. I had all the odds against me – my very first pizza(I have only baked a small bunch of cookies in my life before!!) , that too whole wheat and I am making it from scratch(base, sauce etc…). Yet it is the best pizza I’ve ever had. Every one in my family loved it! I am going to make this every weekend now!I didnt want to make pizza until I got a good recipe for whole wheat pizza and now my search ends here. My husband has switched to healthy eating since a year ago and so we now eat every thing whole wheat. We have been avoiding eating pizza cos we always eat pizza from outside. Never again! My husband loved it and its not easy to please him :)

        Thanks a lot for this wonderful recipe!! Keep posting many more great recipes like this!

        Dolly

      • says

        OMG, what an amazing thing to read first thing out of bed! This is such a brilliant start to my day. Thank you so much for your incredible, super awesome feedback Dolly, I am sooooo happy to hear that the dough worked for you after all AND that your husband liked it! I too am a big fan of pizza and when I turned to healthy food, I had to find a way to still incorporate it to my diet. I tried many a whole wheat crust but was never entirely satisfied with the results. Since trying this recipe, I haven’t looked back. It now is my official go to pizza dough recipe.

        Which reminds me… I still have one ball in the freezer and I am way overdue for a good, tasty pizza. I think I’m going to take it out right now! ;)

        As for me posting more great healthy recipes? I intend to do just that, and I hope you keep reading them! ;)

        Have yourself a tremendous day, Dolly, and thank you again for your amazing review! You’re absolutely awesome! :)

  15. Anchy says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve just tasted the dough, and it’s truly the best pizza dough I’ve ever tried! I have been searching for the right recipe for years and THANK YOU for posting it!

  16. Nicole says

    I’ve always wanted to make my own pizza (I hear its so easy, cheap, and healthier!) and after finding your recipe, I thought I’d finally give it a try :) the starter and biga are currently sitting in the fridge, I’m so excited to taste it! I’m not too familiar with baking, but my mother always said that yeast needs sugar to rise… Would sugar help the dough rise? I didn’t add any to the mix… Thanks! :)

    • says

      You will be adding sugar in the form of molasses or honey when you get to the next step, Nicole. Don’t worry about it for now. There is enough sugar in the flour to feed your yeast for the time being.

      Keep me posted on the results! :D

  17. Aish Krishnan says

    Great recipe – very similar to something I’ve used successfully before with dry yeast – will definitely try yours for a change!

    BTW, regarding differentiating between biga and soaker, I always think of biga as the one that becomes ‘bigger’ :) Works for me!

    Love your site!

  18. shawn says

    I was wondering if you can use stone ground whole wheat in this recipe? Also what toppings did you use in that last picture, it almost looked liked sweet potatoes or something like that?

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