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Archive for July 20th, 2013

My son returned home from camp yesterday, and after I casually inquired about his week (Did you make any new friends?  Did you do all the activities this time?  Did you remember to shower?), I decided to celebrate his survival/success at camp with my homemade pizza (even though homemade pizza itself is a reason to celebrate in this house).  But as I was gathering my ingredients, I realized that I’m guilty of both procrastinating and hoarding this recipe – two things I’m trying to address through The Fast.  This recipe is hands down the best pizza in town, according to the 4 people in my home.  I can’t speak for anyone else because we don’t share our pizza.  Ever.  Pizza is a lot of work to make from scratch, people, so my son goes into Super Flattery mode every time I make it in an effort to get pizza more often.  If we order one from Domino’s or pull out an Udi’s crust – which we still like, it’s just that they’re expensive and small – he bemoans the fact that it’s not my recipe.  Loudly.

So please forgive me, readers, for holding out on you and not posting this sooner.  My site stats tell me that most of my visitors are gluten free parents, and my phone book tells me that most of what we Americans want to eat is pizza.  So I apologize for my procrastination.  (I took this picture of a baked pizza a year ago.  Please don’t hate me.)

Gluten Free Pizza

What I love about this pizza is that it makes a large, 14-inch crust!  If you’ve ever gone out to a restaurant with wheat-eaters, and plunked down twice what they spent on their bulging, large pizza for your little kids-size, gluten free/cardboard pizza, you understand the injustice of the gluten free pizza universe.  It’s especially tough to feed a family on small pizzas.  ($22-$26 for two small, marginally decent pizzas?  I don’t think so.)  My recipe makes a thin crust pizza.  When you bake the crust initially, it will rise and look pretty and fluffy (remember those days?), but once you load on the toppings, it will settle into a thin crust – that tastes wonderful!!  The crust is nicely browned on the bottom (with no soggy center!) and makes delicious bread sticks or focaccia if you decide to just bake it with olive oil and herbs, in which case it stays nice and fluffy.  (Gluten Free Cooking Tip: I’m convinced it’s the corn flour that gives your taste buds something to latch onto, and makes this taste like wheat crust – you don’t taste the corn.  I now add 1 or 2 T. corn meal/cup of flour to all my savory GF breads, and it makes all the difference!)

14" Pizza Crust

The best part for me is that it doesn’t require any time to rise, although it still takes me an hour to make because I’m totally OCD about toppings placement. (Or has my husband says, “No, you’re just doing it RIGHT.”)  One of these days, I’ll post my homemade pizza sauce recipe, when I can reproduce it the same way twice and actually remember what I did.  But since the crust is what matters to GF folks, I’ll say no to excuses for procrastination and share this recipe for 12 slices of heaven with you.

Heavenly Gluten Free Pizza Crust / Focaccia Recipe

Dry ingredients:
1 c. + 2 T. Brenda’s flour blend (recipe at the end)
1/4 c. potato starch (not potato flour; could substitute corn starch)
2 T. corn flour (mine is coarse ground; could substitute corn meal)
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 packet yeast (regular, active dry yeast)

Wet ingredients:
1/2 c. hot water + 2 T., divided
2 T. olive oil (EVOO or the cheap stuff; I like 1 T. each)
1 egg
1/2 tsp. cider vinegar

Corn meal for dusting parchment

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your pizza pan or baking stone.  (I use a 15-in. Pampered Chef baking stone, and it really does make a difference.)  Place baking stone in cold oven and preheat to 450 degrees.  (If you’re using a regular metal pan, you can probably wait to preheat your pan until the dough is mixing.)  Sprinkle corn meal on parchment paper and set aside on counter.

In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together dry ingredients.  In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together 1/2 c. hot water, olive oil, egg, and vinegar.  Add to dry ingredients and mix together on low until combined.  Continue mixing and gradually add additional hot water, 1 T. at a time, until batter is smooth and thick.  (I use 2 T. water, but if you alter the flour blend in this recipe, you may need more or less water, since gluten free flours absorb water differently.)  Beat 5 minutes on medium-high, scraping bowl occasionally.  (If using a metal pizza pan, preheat your oven and pan at this time.  I also like to fry the sausage and shred cheese, if needed, while the batter is mixing.)

I call this “batter” instead of “dough” because unbaked gluten free bread products do not resemble wheat dough.  Don’t let this freak you out – I promise it tastes good!  Because it is a sticky batter, the process of spreading it out on the parchment is a little tricky and takes time, but if you’ve ever tried to make pizza with wheat dough, you know that it’s just as tricky but in a different way.  (There’s a reason we all order takeout or buy frozen pizzas.)  So to get a large circle of “dough,” you’ll want to drop about 5 mounds of batter in a circle with the remaining batter in a mound in the middle.  Fill your empty mixing bowl halfway with water, then dip a rubber spatula/scraper in the water and use the back of it to flatten each dough mound, dipping in water as needed to keep the batter from sticking to the spatula.  When each mound is flattened, begin to spread the mounds together, working from the middle outward.  Once it’s all in a circle, you can begin making circular strokes and spreading the dough toward the edge of your parchment, creating a slightly raised edge that comes within 1/2-in. of the edge of the paper.  (My stone is about 15-in., so I end up with a 14-in. pizza.)

Drizzle a little olive oil in a spiral and spread over top of crust with a brush or your spatula, for a nice, golden crust.  Slide parchment paper onto a large baking sheet with no edges (or an upside-down one).  Remove baking stone from oven and carefully slide the pizza crust onto the hot stone.  (This step is what gives you a golden crust, instead of a soggy one.)  Bake 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with your favorite toppings.  (I like to layer pepperoni and sausage on my sauce, then top with mozzarella and a little cheddar.  Putting the cheese on top instead of underneath guarantees that the toppings don’t fall off!)  Bake pizza 8-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and starts to brown.

Bonus Points: If you really want to rock your husband’s world, while the pizza is baking, melt 1 T. butter with a pinch of garlic powder and brush on the edges of the crust when the pizza is done baking.  Pizza AND garlic bread sticks!  Yum!

Focaccia: Let the dough rest for 20 minutes after you spread it on the parchment.  Dimple the dough with wet fingers, then sprinkle with herbs (I like rosemary), minced garlic, and coarsely ground black pepper.  Drizzle 2-3 T. olive oil on top.  Bake 15 minutes until lightly browned.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.  (Modified from the recipe in The Gluten Free Bible.)

Brenda’s Flour Blend* (I usually triple this and store in a gallon-size zippered bag in the fridge):

  • 1 c. rice flour
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • 1/3 c. potato starch (not flour)
  • 1/3 c. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. tapioca starch/flour (same thing)
  • 1 T. sweet rice flour (also called sticky rice flour)
  • 1 T. potato flour

*There are lots of good flour blends, so feel free to substitute your favorite, although I can’t guarantee the same results.

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