When my husband was diagnosed with Celiac disease over a decade ago his world turned upside down when he was told he couldn't eat gluten. All he could think about was no more malty beer, no more fluffy bread, no more delectable pizza - and all the other guilty pleasures that make indulging so enjoyable.
Step 1: Easier Said Than Done!
To prepare himself for a lifetime of gluten abstinence, my husband went on a crazy gluten-laden binge before he finally hunkered down and bid adieu to gluten forever! I can't say that I blame him for wanting one last hurrah: over 10 years ago gluten-free bread tasted like sawdust and weighed as much as lead! We could barely lift a loaf off the shelf (if we were lucky enough to find one at all).
Although in the intervening years, the selection of prepared gluten-free foods in the supermarket has come a long way in quality and taste, gluten-free pizza has not caught up to it's delectable glutinous counterpart in our opinion. Gluten-free take out pizza is no better: of the ones we tried, the cardboard box was preferable to the crust! It's outrageously expensive and there's still the issue of cross contamination: how careful can cooks really be in a fast moving kitchen where gluten-free pizza is typically being prepared side-by-side with other wheat products?
To avoid becoming a gluten-nazi (no pizza for you!) and relieve the stress I was feeling about the potential to accidentally cross-contaminate my husband's meals in food prep, I decided to eat a gluten-free diet too (but only at home).
Since converting to a gluten-free diet, I've made it my mission to develop recipes for the best gluten-free versions of the foods we both love (you might remember my gluten-free matzo ball soup from last year's Gluten Free Challenge). Pizza, as you have by now guessed, was at the top of my husband's list! As you'll discover if you make this recipe, the best solution for a satisfying and tasty gluten-free pizza is to make it yourself at home!
Step 2: Watch the Video!
Watch the video to see a new technique for making and forming the pizza dough!
This recipe is husband tested and approved :) Not only does this recipe rival 'real' pizza (the crust has a light, airy, crunchy texture), even gluten eaters will love it and won't feel cheated. This recipe is delicious enough to serve to the whole family!
Step 3: Inspiration
I found the inspiration for the pizza crust from a recipe developed by Americas Test Kitchen. I adapted it by simplifying the recipe and changing it from regular-sized pizzas to individual ones (I found that the ready made GF flour shown above works great).
As you've seen in the video, and will see again later in the step-by-steps, the preparation of the crust is very different from its gluten counterpart (no kneading or rolling involved).
Step 4: The Beauty of Individual Pizzas
My adapted recipe makes 6 individual servings of pizza so it's ideal if you have kids that are picky eaters (or if you have meat eaters and vegans in the family): everyone can choose their own personalized toppings.
Another great thing about individual pizzas is the portability. For instance, kids with Celiac disease can take it with them so they can eat at pizza parties too. Just wrap the pizza in non-stick foil and send it with your child along with reheating instructions to the party. Have a parent open up the foil and pop it into an oven or toaster oven to heat through (leaving it on the foil to avoid cross-contamination). Most parents won't mind if you ask them in advance, but if the party happens to be off-site with no kitchen facilities, heat it at home and send it along in a bag with a hot pack to keep it warm.
Step 5: For the Crust, You Will Need:
Now onto the recipe! The pizza crusts are pre-baked first before adding toppings and finishing off in the oven.
- 1/4 cup skim milk powder
- 1 3/4 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour* Note: the total of first two ingredients should weigh 16 ounces
- 1 ½ tablespoons Bob's Red Mill powdered gluten-free psyllium husk*
- 2 ½ ounces (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) Bob's Red Mill gluten-free almond flour* (you can finely grind almonds if you don't have flour)
- 2 ½ teaspoons Bob's Red Mill gluten-free baking powder*
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free instant or rapid-rise yeast
Vegetable/grape seed oil (to oil pans/spatula)
* With the exception of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour, you can substitute any other gluten-free brands in this recipe (although you can experiment with other GF flours, I can't guarantee the recipe will taste the same). Carefully read the labels to make sure you are getting a gluten-free product: many brands make both gluten-free as well as regular products too.
To dry ingredients, add in:
- 2 ½ cups warm water (100 degrees)
- ¼ cup oil (I use grape seed oil)
- Stand mixer
- Mini pizza pans (6)**
- Oil mister filled with vegetable or grape seed oil (optional)
- Rubber spatula
- Plastic wrap
- Electronic food scale
- Kitchen timer
** You can substitute two 12" pizza pans if you want to try this recipe but don't have mini pans.
Step 6: Mix Dough
Install a paddle blade in the stand mixer. Add the first 7 ingredients to the bowl; I like to weigh all my ingredients because baking is a science and you get more accurate results that way.
Pop the bowl onto the stand mixer and lower the blade. Blend on low speed until combined.
Slowly stream the warm water into the flour (the water shouldn't be more than 100 degrees to activate the yeast). Set a timer for six minutes then increase the speed to medium speed. I set it at '6 for 6:00' so it's easy to remember (my mixer has a timer built in so it's super convenient!).
After mixing for six minutes, the dough will be thick and sticky (it's actually more like a batter). Remove the blade and bowl from the mixer. I usually scrape down the sides with a spatula, but you don't have to.
Step 7: Let Dough Rest
Resting the dough allows the water to hydrate the dry ingredients. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top. Let the yeast bubble and do its thing for about 11/2 hours.
Step 8: Prepare Mini Pizza Pans
Prepare the mini pizza pans by spraying the bottom with an oil mister, if you have one. If you don't have a mister, drizzle the oil on the pans and spread it out using your fingers (the best tools in the kitchen). The oil will prevent the crust from sticking and promote browning on the bottom (as shown in the last picture).
I prefer to use grape seed oil because it has a high smoke point (later when you add the toppings, they'll be cooked at a higher temperature than the pre-baked crust).
Step 9: Portion Dough
After 1 1/2 hours, remove the plastic from the top of the bowl - but save it because you'll be using it again later. Use an oiled spatula to separate the dough into six equal portions and transfer it to the mini pizza pans.
Step 10: Spread Dough
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Spray the middle of the piece of plastic you saved earlier with a light misting of oil spray (or drizzle and spread if you don't have a mister).
Lay the plastic, oil side down, over the first portion of dough. Use your hands to flatten the dough and spread it out to the edges; it will be about 1/4" thick or so. At the outer edge, raise the dough around the lip of the mini pizza pan so it's thicker than the centre.
Step 11: Repeat Process for the Remaining Dough
Remove the plastic then repeat the process of re-oiling it (if necessary) and spreading the dough for the remaining five mini pizzas. I find if you oil the plastic well, you won't need to re-oil it again; mine lasted for all six pizzas.
Step 12: Pre-bake Crusts
Place the pizza pans into the preheated 325 degree oven.
Step 13: Rotate Pizza Pans Halfway Through Cooking
Most ovens have hot spots so after 20 minutes, rotate the pans to get even browning.
Bake for another 20 minutes for a total of about 40 minutes - or until the crust is golden brown underneath and just starting to brown on top. Don't overcook because they will be heated again with the toppings.
Remove the pans from the oven and let the pizza crusts cool down.
Step 14: Toppings
For the Toppings, you will need:
The point is to have fun experimenting, so use whatever you like!
- Shredded Mozzarella cheese (you can also use cheddar, Colby, Edam, Emmental, Gruyere, and provolone on their own or as a mix)
- Your choice of herbs or spices
- Your choice of meat and/or veggies
For a classic cheese and pepperoni pizza, I used a garlic & herb cheddar/mozzarella cheese combo, gluten-free pepperoni (Pillars has a great one!), pasata tomato sauce and mama mia herb spice mix.
Top the crust with the tomato sauce and spread it out in a thin layer using the back of a spoon, leaving 1/4-inch border around edge. Sprinkle grated cheese over sauce, followed by herbs/spices if you wish, and a handful of sliced of pepperoni.
Step 15: Bake Singles in Toaster Oven
Pre-heat toaster oven to 450 degrees. Transfer pizza to toaster oven. Bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown (I cooked mine for 7 minutes, but keep an eye on it). Let pizza cool for 5 minutes before eating.
Step 16: If Making Several
If you plan on using the crusts same-day, they can sit out for up to four hours. If making more than one, line a sheet tray with foil and add whatever toppings you desire on the crust, then bake in a hot 450 degree oven for 7 - 10 minutes.
Step 17: Store the Rest / Freeze
While the pizza is cooling, at this point, if you don't plan on using the rest right away you can wrap the crusts for storage. Add pieces of waxed paper in between each crust, wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and then foil. The waxed paper makes it easy to pull the crusts apart after freezing. You can freeze the crusts for up to six months, but they probably won't last that long!
As a snack or quick lunch, it's fast and convenient to grab a crust from the freezer. I haven't tried to reheat one straight from frozen, but you probably could (if you do, let me know how it worked). I usually microwave the crust first for 10 - 15 seconds on high then top it and pop it into the toaster oven - as in Step 14 - no need to heat up the entire oven.
Step 18: Enjoy Your Personalized Mini GF Pizzas
I hope you'll give these a try; they have a crunchy bottom and a light airy centre.
By the way, at the time my husband was diagnosed with Celiac disease, doctors also found he had osteoporosis (an unfortunate development when Celiac disease isn't caught right away). A year after switching over to a gluten-free diet, and maintaining a no-gluten zone in our kitchen, his osteoporosis actually reversed to a noticeable extent! It was incredible and unexpected. I guess the moral of the story is don't be tempted to cheat once you start your gluten-free lifestyle. It IS possible regain your health AND still enjoy your guilty pleasures as long as they're modified to be gluten-free (and eaten in moderation of course)!
Step 19: Please Vote :)
If you enjoyed this gluten free recipe, please vote for it in the Gluten Free and Epilog Challenges!