Friday, March 26, 2010

Pizza Party! Experimenting with gluten-free crusts.


I miss very little having to eat gluten-free. Since my diagnosis I adjusted to not having sandwiches and most fried foods. I have found how to make most sweets I crave gluten free, but pizza - pizza is a difficult beast. There's crispness and chewiness and tenderness all in one, not to mention well developed flavor. How to recreate that in a gluten free dough, at home? Most store bought gluten-free crusts just don't do it for me. They lack much flavor and texture. So, I have been forcing Jason to eat at all the wonderful pizzerias in the area to tell me how they are. This vicarious living has to stop. I have been on a quest.



Tonight I invited folks from our local R.O.C.K. group to join me in experimenting with doughs. I developed 5 recipes for dough: American medium crust, Chicago deep dish, Tapioca starch based, Thin crust, and Honey "wheat" dough. We made a bunch of flavors, and gave each a try.


The set-up:
One oven cranked up to the highest it would go with a thick pizza stone.
One large grill that gets up to about 700 degrees when all burners are lit.

Cooking equipment: 
baking sheets with silpat. pizza peel (actually a baking sheet without a lip on one side), cast iron pan, round copper pan (socca pan).


The pizzas: 
Chicago deep dish (not so deep): sweet Italian sausage, mozzarella, parmesan, tomato sauce
Thin crust pizzas cooked on high heat: margherita, fennel bacon fontina, mushroom goat cheese and lemon
American: Hawaiian, Pepperoni, Four cheese
Honey "wheat": BBQ chicken, Chipotle Mexican


The results:
Most people preferred the thin crust pizzas. Not too surprising because that was the most tested recipe. Well actually the only one I had been working on. The crust right off the grill was crisp, but not too dry. Had chew and held up well, especially where it was thin.

The underdog favorite was the Chicago crust. It was buttery, a bit biscuity, with a crunchy bottom. 

The honey "wheat" was divisive. Some loved the sweetness, many found it too soft.

The kids all loved the American - it baked up soft, with a bit of chew, and lightly crisp bottom.

The tapioca dough bombed. Too chewy, no rise, no flavor.

The recipes for most popular crust: 

Thin crust pizza (makes 2-3 large pizzas)

  • 4.5 oz/1 cup bean flour (I used white bean)
  • 4.5 oz/1 cup millet flour
  • 2.25 oz/ 0.5 cups brown rice flour
  • 4.5 oz/1.25 cups corn/potato starch mixture
  • 2.25 oz/ 0.5 cups sweet rice flour
  • 4.5 oz/ 1.25 cups tapioca starch
  • 2 t guar gum
  • 4 t xanthan gum
  • 2 1/4 t yeast
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t agar agar (optional)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 20 oz water (plus or minus)
  • 3 eggs
American pizza crust (makes 2-3 pizzas)
  • 4.5 oz/1 cup bean flour (I used white bean)
  • 4.5 oz/1 cup millet flour
  • 2.25 oz/ 0.5 cups brown rice flour
  • 4.5 oz/1.25 cups corn/potato starch mixture
  • 2.25 oz/ 0.5 cups sweet rice flour
  • 4.5 oz/ 1.25 cups tapioca starch
  • 2 t guar gum
  • 4 t xanthan gum
  • 2 1/4 t yeast
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 1/2  t baking powder
  • 1 t agar agar (optional)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 20 oz water (plus or minus)
  • 3 eggs
 Chicago crust (makes 2-3 pizzas)
  • 3.5 oz/0.75 cups bean flour (I used white bean)
  • 3.5 oz/0.75 cups millet flour 
  • 1.75 oz/ 0.33 cups brown rice flour
  • 3.5 oz/0.75 cups potato starch
  • 1 oz/ 0.25 cups sweet rice flour
  • 4.5 oz/1 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 t guar gum
  • 4 t xanthan gum
  • 3.5 oz cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 t agar agar (optional)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 2.25 t yeast (1 packet)
  • 3 eggs
  • 18 oz water, lukewarm

For all pizza crusts

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, add in wet ingredients, get you hands in there and mix. The dough should be rather wet but not flow at all. Mix well and let sit for 5 minutes, and if it needs adjustment, add water if necessary or a bit more brown rice flour if necessary. Allow to rise for 2-3 hours at room temperature, then place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. You can keep up to 72 hours.

For thin crust:
Preheat grill as high as you can. Oil and sprinkle cornmeal all over a grill safe baking sheet (metal sheet pan without a non-stick coating - I used a copper socca pan). You can also place on well oiled aluminum foil. Spread dough as thin as possible on pan, using lightly wet finger to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Top as desired, but remember not to load them on too thick or it won't cook properly. The grill should be about 600 degrees ideally. Place pizza on grill and bake until crisp with charred bits on bottom and cheese starts to brown on top.

For American:
Spread dough about 1/4 inch thick on baking sheet lined with silpat. Par cook in oven cranked as high as it will go until set and starting to brown. Top with favorite toppings, and slide onto baking stone if you have one. Bake until the cheese starts to get brown and bubbly and the crust is golden.


For Chicago:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees for at least 1/2 hour. Spread dough about 1/4 inch thick in a cast iron skillet using lightly wet hands. Then top with shredded cheese, other desired toppings, and finally tomatoes whirled in food processor, sprinkle with pizza seasonings if desired. If you would like you can top with more dough, by patting thin with wet hands and laying on top. bake in 450 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until crust is deep golden. Allow to set up for at least 10 minutes or more before trying to cut into it.

3 comments:

  1. Um, I'll take one of the Chicago deep dish pizzas. Do you guys deliver?

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  2. try corn meal pizza crust. just corn flour (you can use any texture from super fine all the way through polenta - i like the finer ones, though) + water + olive oil. put on a metal baking sheet with plenty of oil to keep it from sticking and bake on very high. add toppings after crust is fully baked. super yummy, super easy.

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  3. Lisa

    I do love polenta type crusts. Another favorite of mine is based on farinata or socca - chickpea flour, water and olive oil. With my socca pan i bought in France i make it on our high heat grill and top as desired. I often do this instead of pizza crust. Thanks for reminding us of the other yummy options that are perfect for last minute pizza!

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