Pizza is my favorite food. But surprisingly, cheese is not. If my pizza comes with anything other than mozzarella, I’m apt to peel it off. I was the child who refused to eat mac ‘n cheese. Despite my love of all things carb, I’d be unlikely to eat a bagel (even a delicious real NY style bagel) with cream cheese. I love to make cheesecake but after baking it, I don’t want to eat it, knowing all the cheese that went into its creation. You might notice that the is the very first recipe on this blog that even includes cheese. It can be a little challenging sometimes but overall I do fine without much cheese. Until now…
I had the opportunity to participate in the Improv Cooking Challenge this month and the two key ingredients that I had to include were cheese and crackers. So I thought long and hard about what I could make that I would want to eat afterwards. And my mind circled back to pizza, as it often does, since I loooove pizza. The cheese part was easy there, but how to get crackers into the dish? Ultimately, after a bit of brainstorming and some help from Pinterest, I settled on a graham cracker crust. Maybe a little out there for a cheese and crackers challenge, but it was SO.GOOD! I’d eat cheese and crackers in this form any day.
I started off by baking graham crackers. Feel free to use store bought graham crackers for this recipe. When I make it again I’ll be likely to do that too since homemade graham crackers, while absolutely divine, do not make for a quick graham cracker pizza dough and I’m often under a time crunch. Once the graham crackers were ready…
…I moved on to actually making the pizza.
I dissolved yeast in warm water with some flour and let it stand to proof. After half an hour, I added more water, some olive oil, whole wheat flour, more all-purpose flour, and graham crackers crumbs and kneaded them together with the dough hook attachment on my electric mixer, until the dough was smooth, which took about 10 minutes. If the dough is really sticky, as mine was at first, it’s okay to add a little more all-purpose flour.
Once the dough is smooth, place it in a bowl and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm location for an hour, until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough (this part is very satisfying), remove it from the bowl, and let it rise for another half hour or so on a flat surface, still covered with a cloth or plastic wrap.
I was able to make two 13 to 14 inch pizzas with this dough. The original recipe states it makes 4 to 5 individual pizzas. So divide the dough into however many pizzas you plan to make. I rolled it out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin and placed it onto pizza pans. My crust was about “NY style” in thickness. Not super thin and crispy, but definitely not deep dish either.
Obviously pizza toppings are a personal decision. For us, I made margarita pizzas so I lightly brushed the crusts with olive oil, then topped each pizza with one sliced tomato each, 10 to 12 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese each, thinly sliced fresh basil, and some freshly ground black pepper.
I baked the pizza in a 450F degree oven until the cheese was bubbly and browning and the crust was cooked through and golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. The crust was sweet thanks to the graham cracker crumbs, but not overly so. The whole wheat flour balanced out the graham crackers very well. And of course mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil are one of my favorite flavor combinations. So, despite being “cheese and crackers,” my cheese topped graham cracker crumb crusted pizza was a huge success in my book.
Margarita Pizza with Graham Cracker Crust (crust inspired by Colavita.com)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one envelope)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
3/4 cups graham crackers crumbs (from homemade or store bought graham crackers)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
pizza toppings: for the pizzas seen here, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 24 ounces fresh mozzarella, 2 large tomatoes, 1/2 cup shredded basil, freshly ground black pepper (for 2 13-14 inch pizzas)
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the yeast, 1 cup warm water, and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Cover with a cloth and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. It will appear slightly foamy.
2. Add the remaining water, salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and combine with the dough hook of the mixer. Then slowly add in the rest of the all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, and the graham cracker crumbs. Knead with the dough hook for about 10 minutes, until smooth. If it seems really sticky after 10 minutes, add a little more all-purpose flour until it is less tacky and more smooth.
3. Turn the kneaded dough into a mixing bowl lightly coated with nonstick spray or oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
4. Punch down the dough and let it rise on a floured surface for 30 minutes.
5. Separate the dough into as many pizzas as you want to make, rolled out each pizza crust on a floured surface and transfer to a pizza pan. Preheat the oven to 450F. If using a pizza stone, preheat the oven with the stone in it to 500F and transfer the pizza to the stone with a pizza peel after topping it.
6. Top the pizzas as desired. I brushed each crust with a tablespoon of olive oil then arranged the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on top. I sprinkled them with the shredded basil then topped with about 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
7. Bake in preheated oven until the crust is cooked through and the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 10-12 minutes.
Check out the other “cheese and crackers” selections below: