Multi-grain doughs are making their way to the mainstream
This year I decided to compete again at the World Pizza Championships in Italy. It’s been three years since I have actually competed in an Italian cooking competition. As a competitor you are always trying to figure out what pizza you are going to offer up to the judges. Since I have several different types of multigrain pizzas that I use at different locations, I thought I would use one of them for fun, so I chose an organic six-grain pizza using two sprouted grains. Sprouted grain is a wheat that is hydrated, which brings out a sweeter and more natural flavor in the grain. The process is called germination and it converts the endosperm from a starch into a simple sugar. This is why it tastes a bit sweeter.
I wanted to be the first competitor to ever compete using an organic, multi-sprouted, ancient grain in a competition. I know that is a mouthful, but it’s progressive and I see this as the future. I added other ancient grains, such a spelt, then added semolina, a type 00 and whole wheat. As I entered the competition and started watching the other competitors I couldn’t help but notice other Italian competitors using multigrain doughs. They weren’t using sprouted grains, but they were using other types like soy. In Italy, soy has been added to doughs since the early ’90s. I worked with it a lot when I studied in Italy years ago. But the Italians were using other grains as well. The word “biological” was used a lot when competitors spoke to the judges about their pizzas. In Italy, “biological” is another term for “organic.”
Ancient grains are grains that haven’t been manipulated in a laboratory. Typically this grain is very simple and similar to a grain that was harvested hundreds of years ago. The gluten and protein content is different, which makes this grain much easier for our body to digest.
Ten years ago organic wasn’t very popular in the pizza industry in Italy. Now I see it used from many, many competitors.
In Italy it has always been about digestibility. With organic, ancient grain, and/or multigrain doughs, pizza has never been more digestible like it is today.
Here is a recipe for a multi-ancient grain dough that can be used in a
500 -to 650-F oven:
- 8 pounds flour (organic / protein range near 13 percent)
- 1 pound spelt (organic)
- ½ pound soy
- ½ pound whole wheat (organic)
- 6 pounds cold water (40-45 F)
- ½ pound warm water (80-85 F)
- 3.2 ounces fine sea salt
- 1.6 ounces dry active yeast
- 1.6 ounces organic EVOO
- 1.6 ounces organic local honey
- 1.6 ounces low diastatic malt
RESPECTING THE CRAFT features World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco and Pizza Rock in Sacramento. Tony compiles the column with the help of his trusty assistants, Laura Meyer and Thiago Vasconcelos. If you have questions on any kitchen topic ranging from prep to finish, Tony’s your guy. Send questions via Twitter @PizzaToday, Facebook (search: Pizza Today) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass the best ones on to Tony.