08 July 2008

GF Tips: Pizza

If you want it quick and easy, you can use ricecakes as a "crust". If you're in the right part of the country, both Pier 49 and Beau-Jo's offer a gluten free crust. (Pier 49 has the better crust, while Beau-Jo's does a much better job with toppings, imo).

However, if you want a really good crust where you have complete control, you're going to want to learn to make a rising-yeast pizza crust. There are "quick crusts" that don't use yeast, and are easier, but they will not taste like "real" pizza crust. In The Gluten-Free-Gourmet Bakes Bread, there is a yeast recipe specifically for pizza crust that is decent. Not great, but decent. I find I get a much better crust by using one of the regular bread recipes and just spreading it out for a pizza crust. In fact, I did this for our Fourth of July family meal, and my dad actually complimented me on the crust. He even ate most of the outer crust, which he rarely does with regular pizza.

Use any bread recipe you like, but probably a mild-flavored bread would be best (unless you're into hearty-flavored pizza crust). I tend to use the Featherlight Rice Bread recipe from GFG Bakes Bread, but use any that you've gotten to turn out as decent bread and you should be fine. Do make sure to use the water-temperature on the yest package and NOT the temperature in the recipe.

The challenge with gluten-free bread dough is that it is runny, and so we can't just roll it out into the shape we need. I generally slather some dough onto the pizza plate, put some olive oil on my hands (usually by dipping into a shallow bowl of it), and gently pat the dough out until it fills the pan. Very, very messy, but I've never had much luck using spatulas to do the job. However you shape it, try to make sure that the outer edge is at least slightly thicker than the middle parts. It will hold the toppings better that way. Then let rise until it's roughly doubled in height, pre-bake for 15-20 minutes at the temperature indicated in the bread-recipe you're using, put toppings on, and bake again for 20-30 minutes (mainly depending on how thick your toppings are).

Almost forgot. If you're making it just for you and don't want tons and tons of leftovers, a pie-plate makes a good 1-2 serving pizza. I tend to make lots of extra pizza dough when I do make pizza, and make a bunch of pie-plate-size crusts to freeze. On the Fourth, I used the largest recipe for Featherlight Rice Bread (using 4 cups of flower) and got one 12" crust for my family and 5 pie-plate size ones for me. Just spread them in a greased and floured pie-plate, let rise, and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Some generic tips regarding any yeast bread:
-Water Temperature Matters. Always read the yeast container to see what temperature is recommended. Since we generally add a bunch of room temperature liquid, you may need to increase it further.
-Fluffy eggs make better bread. I usually start by putting the (room temperature) eggs into my stand mixer, putting it on high, and letting it go for a good ten minutes or more, until the eggs turn into a rather nice foam.
-Gluten-free dough does not need to rise twice. The second-rising for wheat breads is to activate the gluten appropriately, thus is unnecessary if there is no gluten.
-Oil works just as well as butter or margarine, and for pizza crusts I definitely recommend olive oil. Products made with margarine will probably have a longer "shelf life," but it's difficult to find margarine made without mono and di-glycerides (or without soybean oil, which makes me ill).
-Bette Hagman recommends vinegar as a dough enhancer, but I tend to use lemon juice, and increase the amount. Same acidity, and the vitamin C acts as a natural preservative.
-If you've got an ingredient that's not at room temperature and you're in a hurry, put it in a water proof bag (say a ziplock), partially fill a measuring cup with hot tap water, and clip the bag to the sides of the measuring cup. I don't know how well this would work with eggs, but with any "powdery" ingredient, it works just fine. In ten minutes or less, the ingredient should be up to room temperature or better.

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