As a child of the 90s, I remember a time when pizza wasn’t taken seriously. When it was perfectly normal and not at all neglectful to be served a frozen pizza for dinner. A time before my brain knew words like “00 flour” or “Neopolitan style”. An era of unlimited toppings and crusts stuffed with any unholy thing a fast-food chain could dream up. Pizza was an uncomplicated crowd-pleaser, the taste of childhood, and a meal available in a head-spinning number of formats – personal, pan, and pocket just to name a few. Pizza wasn’t sacred, pizza was fun. And that is exactly the mood I was trying to capture with this Veggie Deluxe Baguette Pizza.
There was a time when frazzled parents would smear pizza sauce and melt cheese on any available bread product. Pizza-izing English muffins, stale pieces of bread, and well, baguettes were common practice. It transformed odds and ends into a dinner befitting a Toys R Us kid. I don’t know if parents still do this because I am not a parent. But I feel like I see it less. Perhaps it is considered gauche now that we’re accustomed to pizza cooked in 900°F wood-burning ovens. But there is part of me that misses our parent’s frantic pizza concoctions and the small army of frozen pizza pops, pockets, and bites. Was it all kind of trashy? Oh absolutely! But did I love it and I do miss it? Yes!
Now, I am no longer a 10 year-old-girl, so I assume if I were to bite into a pizza pocket now, I would be bowled over by the sodium. But I still love the spirit of unpretentious pizza products. My pizza tastes are definitely not high brow. I like my pizza crisp on the outside, and pillowy on the inside. I adore classic toppings, like mushrooms and green peppers. And I really only ever want low moisture mozzarella on my pizza. When I go to a gourmet pizza place I usually pray they have pasta or risotto on the menu because classy pizza just doesn’t thrill me. It doesn’t fit into the very specific pizza cravings I tend to get.
So, in the interest of capturing my trashy pizza tendencies with a little gourmet flair, I created this Veggie Deluxe Baguette Pizza. It is a baguette pizza but it’s a homemade, whole wheat baguette slathered with from-scratch pizza sauce. This is a baguette pizza with dignity and black olives – two things preteen Susan would’ve totally objected to.
Yes, I am aware that it is a touch, umm, intense to make your own baguette only to bury it under pizza toppings. But I often think the dough is what truly makes a pizza great, so making a top-notch baguette to make a baguette pizza just makes good sense, in my opinion. Plus, the recipe below makes two baguettes and one baguette’s-worth of pizza is enough for two. So, if you live in a two-person household as I do, you can use one baguette for pizza and dunk the other one in good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pat yourself on the back for your adult-like behavior. It does make you feel better about your pizza-related choices. I am speaking from experience here.
To tell you the truth, the real recipe here is the baguettes. I’ve been working at upping my whole wheat bread game for about a year now. And now that I have this pain au lait version worked out, I can’t wait to tackle more complicated forms of whole wheat bread.
What I’ve learned from my various bread adventures is I don’t care for 100% whole wheat anything. You need a little white flour to keep things tender. And when working with whole wheat flour, moisture balance is everything. So make sure your dough is feeling good and silky before you put it down for its initial rise. This is something you need to have a feel for, unfortunately. So don’t feel too wedded to the flour and liquid measurements in any bread recipe. Eventually, you’ll just know when your dough is in a good place.
After the bread is out of the oven, you’re a simple tomato sauce and a few toppings away from a truly nostalgic pizza experience. Dressing a pizza requires little guidance or measurement. Just put whatever you love on this pizza and however much of it you like. Yes, I’ve heard about the three topping rule and no I don’t subscribe to it. Your pizza should be dressed to make you happy, not to make a dining public think or admire your restraint. Embrace the pizza culture of the 90s and make a pizza that is way too much.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Veggie Deluxe Baguette Pizza. The baguettes and pizza sauce can be made a couple of days in advance, making this dish a light lift on a hectic weekday night. And beyond all its time-saving capabilities, it also delivers pizza deliciousness free of all pretensions.
Veggie Deluxe Baguette Pizza
Whole Wheat Baguettes
- 315g (1 ¼ cups) milk I used 2%
- 15g (1 tbsp) active dry yeast
- 30g (1 1/2 tbsp) honey
- 12g (2 tsp) kosher salt
- 270g (2 cups) bread flour
- 150g ( 1 1/3 cup) whole wheat flour
- 56g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter softened, cut into cubes
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds for sprinkling
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot halved and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 (796ml) can whole tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 340g low moisture mozzarella*** shredded
- 1 green pepper quartered and sliced
- 1 tomato quartered and sliced
- ½ red onion halved and sliced
- ⅓ cup black olives torn in half
- ¼ cup hot banana peppers
- crushed red pepper flakes for sprinkling
For the Baguettes
- Heat the milk over low heat until it reaches the temperature of warm bathwater. Take it off of the heat and sprinkle the yeast over the surface. Let stand until foamy. About 5 minutes.
- Pour the milk and the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, salt, half of the bread flour, and half of the whole wheat. Mix on medium-low until a dough forms.
- Add the remaining whole wheat flour and mix until well integrated. Add a little or all of the remaining bread flour in 1/4 cup increments until the dough begins to clean the bowl. You may not need the whole cup.
- When the dough feels tacky but not sticky, start adding the butter, a few cubes at a time. Wait until each addition is fully integrated before adding more.
- Once the butter is fully integrated, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and silky to the touch. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a large bowl greased with olive oil. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. About an hour and a half.
- Once the dough has risen, gently deflate and divide it into two. Take one half and flatten it into a rectangle. Roll it up to form a snake and pinch the seam to form a seal. Tuck either end inside the snake and pinch once again to form a seal. Refine the shape and transfer to a baguette pan or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining half.
- Cover the two baguettes with a tea towel and preheat the oven to 375°F. Once the oven is up, whisk the egg and water together in a small bowl. Cut vents on the surface of each baguette and brush them with egg wash. Sprinkle the loaves with sesame seeds and place them in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
For the Sauce
- Pour the olive oil into a large, deep skillet. Heat over medium heat until shimmering. Reduce the heat slightly and add the shallots. Saute until just translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Stir in the tomato paste and saute briefly.
- Pour in the can of tomatoes and crush them roughly with the back of your spoon. Bring the mixture up to a boil and add the bay leaves, oregano, basil, sugar, and salt. Reduce to a simmer and let cook until reduced by half. About 15-20 minutes.
- Take the sauce off of the heat and transfer it to a food processor. Carefully blitz until smooth. Pour the finished sauce into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Pizza
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Split the baguettes lengthwise and place them on a baking sheet cut-side-up. Drizzle the baguettes generously with olive oil and place them in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Spread some pizza sauce on each of the baguette halves. Top with onions, followed by cheese, peppers, olives, banana peppers, and tomato. Add an additional sprinkle of cheese and place the baguettes in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes before turning on the broiler. Bake for about 5 minutes more. Be sure to keep an eye on the pizza while it's under the broiler.
- Let the pizza cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving alongside additional pizza sauce for dipping.