Pizza. Pizza was a friday night in front of the television meal for me as a child. A real treat in our household. Maybe eaten in front of a video from Blockbuster or some other long lost video rental place. Pizza also had some follies in our house. Once, my father not wanting to put the Little Caesar’s double box on the car seat tipped it upright in the wheel well. That didn’t turn out; they slid on top of each other and made a double stacked pizza for dinner. Another time, my mother served up a bubbling hot bake-at-home pizza on the coffee table. Unfortunately for her, the whole pie wasn’t on the coffee table and tipped over onto the carpet. The hot cheese permanently melted into the brown acrylic carpet much to her dismay and the dog’s enjoyment. That mark branded the carpet for many years until they finally replaced it.
Pizza. It might be the easiest food to eat and yet one of the hardest foods to make gluten free. Sure there are a few tasty frozen thin crust pizzas. Two staples in our freezer are Udi’s gluten free pizza and Freschetta‘s recently introduced gluten free pizza (only available in limited markets and luckily DC is one of them). But at home, it’s a different story. I’ve tried many recipes for homemade pizza crust. Most have failed miserably. I thank Meyer for putting up with all the rejects. I’m on the verge of trying a cauliflower crust. But I think that will be just another crisp thin crust. I want a doughy crunchy regular pizza crust. Well, a deep dish someday wouldn’t be bad either (my failed try of that is another story). I’ve already had to switch my pizza stone-to cut out cross contamination from years of wheat pizza, buy pizza pans as there’s no way sticky GF dough can be placed directly on the pizza stone, and rethink the ingredients list multiple times (among others to decided psyllium husk or gums, an egg for binding, and what type of flours to blend: rice, almond, tapioca, or sorghum just to name a few). Yes, this is the saga of most gluten free baked goods. This past year I’ve learned enough about gluten free baking that I can throw together a cookie or even a cake, however pizza dough is still a mountain to climb.
This week I tested out another America’s Test Kitchen: The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook recipes-pizza dough. After browsing the cookbook, I was immediately curious about their pizza dough recipe. This recipe uses their own gluten free flour blend which includes white rice, brown rice, potato starch, and tapioca starch. It then adds in several other components to mimic several key traits of pizza dough including almond flour to obtain a crispy crust and powdered psyllium husks to develop the structure of the rising dough. The addition of almond flour as a fat to create a crunchy crust certainly intrigued me-one of my dislikes with other recipes is not obtaining that crisp crunch of gluten filled pizza. ATK works tirelessly to solve the multiple issues of gluten free pizza dough-ie. how to get rise, chew, and crunch. Their test results found that adding a larger amount of water than usual to the dough helped with elasticity and rise. However, to counteract this extra water in baking the crust, they then needed to parbake the dough to cook off the water before adding on the wet pizza sauce and cheese. Doing this intermediate baking step resulted in a crunchy crust in the final pizza. I diligently followed the recipe instructions (which is rare for me), timing the mixer blending, spreading the dough just as explained, parbaking the dough in the oven, and finally adding the topping, sauce, and cheese and then baking the final pizzas in the oven on a pizza stone at a blazing 500 degrees. The resulting pizzas came out bubbling hot, browned, and with a crisp crust that nicely crunched under our pizza cutter. Yes, there are a few darkened edges to the crust-I’ll pay a bit more attention to the feel of the dough when parbaking in the future. Over all, Meyer and I really enjoyed this pizza. A solid gluten free pizza with balanced flavor (no strong bean or buckwheat here), a bit of chew, and a crisp crunch of the crust. The pups agreed with our sentiments. After being given a bit, they begged for more with each slice we bit into. Leftover pizza (there wasn’t much from two 10″ pies) reheated well in the toaster oven and as Meyer exclaimed was enjoyable straight from the fridge. I’d say a pizza dough recipe that works this well is worth buying the America’s Test Kitchen: How Can It Be Gluten Free cookbook!
Once I’ve played around with this recipe a few more pizza nights, I’ll share my tips and what to watch out for making delicious gluten free pizza from the ATK’s gluten free pizza dough recipe.