Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Vegetable Stuffed Crust Pizza

My first memories of pizza was from when I was probably 4 or 5. We used to live in Bahrain, and there was this quaint little pizza place called Pick-A-Pizza. Just the mention of pizza would be enough to get my siblings and I into a frenzy. Daddy'd drive his three drooling runts there, and let us order the usual; usual only because there was only one vegetarian option! I remember the few things I loved about that place: the smell, the menu board (there were numbers against each pizza option, and if I remember right, we always ordered the No:5!), the anticipation of a yummy pizza, the high chairs, and Tina, the Manglorean girl at the counter. Since we were so little (read: cute), and visited so often, we soon became good 'friends' with Tina and the Sri Lankan Chefs. This meant free extra toppings, and sometimes even free pizzas! Since mumma and daddy didn't want to be indebted to these nice people, mumma used to make idlis (ya, thats what they said they'd like in exchange!) in bulk, and parcel them up for the drop-off.

Eventually, we left Bahrain, only to return a few years later. Fortunately for us, Pick-A-Pizza was still around, and still served the yummiest of pizzas. So we had another two lovely years of devouring yummy pizzas. When we left Bahrain for good, and moved to UAE, we were devastated, and all the pizzas from Pizza Hut, Pizza Corner, Pizza Inn, et al could not sate us like the good ol' ones from Pick-A-Pizza. The only other pizza that has come close to the Pick-A-Pizza yumminess is the deep-dish variety from Pizzeria Uno. Many years later, we visited Bahrain for a few days, and not only did we eat a couple of pizzas from our favorite pizza outlet, we also carried 8 large bad boys back with us to Dubai! YES! We actually brought back pizza from Bahrain! I bet those were the first few pizzas ever to get on a plane!

My love for pizza has only gotten stronger, and while I can only dream of having another Pick-A-Pizza pie, Shashank & I now prefer making them at home. This way we get to control quality, quantity, taste, price, and for me vegan cheese! And, honestly, after you have made it once or twice, it really doesn't seem daunting anymore. Since we don't like all purpose flour too much, we shopped around for a wholewheat base recipe. Most recipes mention to use wholewheat flour along with some all purpose flour, or the dough becomes impossible to roll. So, eventually we used this recipe, with the idea that we would try a small batch of dough later with only whole wheat flour. Also, I am quite the fan of the stuffed crust, so we decided to give that a try as well. All in all, the pizzas were really good, although the stuffed crust needed a lot more cheese/vegan cheese in our opinion. Also, we've topped the pizza with stuff we like, and can be substituted with anything else, or completely skipped as well.

And yet, the heart craves Pick-A-Pizza goodness.

Vegetable Stuffed Crust Pizza


  • 1 Tsp         Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups  Warm water (110F)
  • 1 pack        Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 cups        Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/4 cups  All Purpose Flour (Maida)
  • 1/4  cup     Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp          Salt
  • 1/2 bottle      Pizza Sauce (I used Pizza Mazza by Maggie) or Homade Pizza Sauce
  • 1                  Aubergine/Brinjal (thinly sliced lengthwise)
  • 1                  Medium Green Capsicum (thinly sliced)
  • 10                Babycorn (sliced lengthwise or into little rounds)
  • 1                 Zucchini (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup         Sliced Green Olives
  • 1/4 cup         Sliced Black Olives
  • 1/4 cup         Salted Crumbled Tofu (to emulate Feta Cheese)
  • 4 cups          Mixed Vegan Cheese (cheddar and mozzarella) (grated or thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup           Vegan Mozarella Cheese (grated or crumbled)
  • 2 tsp            Olive Oil (for greasing pan)

  • Mix the sugar into the warm water. Ensure it is not too hot, nor too cold, or the yeast will not react favorably.
  • Add the yeast to this mix, and keep for a maximum of 5 minutes. If you keep it for too long, the yeast will be too tired to work on your dough.
  • Mix both the flours, and take only 3 cups of this mix in a bowl, and add the yeast solution to it.
  • Add the salt and oil to this and knead well, gradually adding the remaining 1/4 cup of mixed flour till the dough is not sticky anymore. Keep kneading the dough till its elastic and smooth. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough into a large oiled bowl, turning the dough around to ensure the whole surface of the dough is covered with the oil. Allow this to rise for about an hour, by which time it should have doubled in size.
  • After an hour, punch the dough down and knead it for a 2-4 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into two portions. Each portion should be enough to make one 12" pizza base. Roll each portion into a circle or shape it into a circle by hand.
  • Place the rolled dough onto a lightly greased pizza pan or a baking tray.
  • Preheat the oven to 220 C.
  • Place some of the grated/crumbled vegan mozzarella cheese around the perimeter of the base, around 1" from the edges and fold the dough over the cheese to form the stuffed crust. 
  • Spread the sauce over the dough avoiding the crust.
  • Evenly place all the vegetables & crumbled tofu over the sauce.
  • Finally sprinkle the mixed vegan grated cheese or place the slices over the vegetables.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes at 220 C, until the crust is golden brown. 
  • Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

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