I bit the bullet and made a gluten-free pizza: read the review

The Hungry Mom Kitchen 

Going gluten-free is a tough break for somebody from the Pizza Belt. What’s the Pizza Belt? Let me just say that it’s a place like no other,  like the Land of Oz. Only it’s inhabited by a rare breed of connoisseurs who believe that no good pizza exists west of the Delaware. And we, self-righteous pizza aficionados that we are, take extreme pride in being absolutely right. 

The craving hits me about once a month, and it’s nothing to mess around with. It’s a hold-over from the days when my friends and I used to walk to a place called DeLorenzos for what the sign in the window said was “tomato pie.” This was the real stuff. No fakey mass-marketed imitation. It was the best. But there were a ton of places just like that one, all great. And Pop’s made pizza’s as big around as a table with slices as long as your arm.  

Sometimes all I can imagine is pizza, folded in my hand with the mozzerella stretching all the way to my mouth. And tomato sauce the way I like it, bright, not dark, made from just pureed whole tomatoes and plenty of garlic. And crust with air bubbles, slightly dark on the bottom, and made of unbleached flour that gives it lots of tooth. And made preferably with a yeast starter earlier in the day, for a slightly sour dough finish. Authentic pizza from Naples is made with buffalo mozzerella. No lie. It’s a patented recipe.

Oh yeah, now I remember. I’m gluten-free.

So I didn’t eat pizza for a long time. But enough of this self-denial. Life is too short. 

The idea of making gluten-free pizza dough from scratch with all gluten-free ingredients seemed like a whooooole lot of work. Not up for it.  

Not up for a stomach ache either. And that’s what I’d have if I could not control my impulses and went to Louie’s, a local place whose pizza is so delicious it makes me weep.

Instead I went to Target and got a box of  Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix. And overall, considering everything, the final product was not half bad.

Here’s my take on the mix:

Q. Does it even remotely resemble real pizza dough?

A. No. Not a chance. There’s no gluten, and gluten is what pizza is all about. Duh.

Q. So how does it work?

A. You put the little yeast packet (provided by the good people at Bob’s Red Mill) into the water. In another bowl, mix up 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 eggs (or to substitute for eggs, use 6 Tbsp.water and 2 Tbsp. ground flax – I like to go eggless, it seems to work better for me). Then you add the egg or the flax mixture to the yeast water, and then the package of gluten-free flour.

This is not like real pizza dough. You do not knead it!

Only mix for a minute  and let rest. It rises a tiny bit. Meanwhile I heat the oven to 425.

When the dough is ready and oven hot, I spread the dough across the BACK of an oiled cookie sheet. (I don’t use the kind of cookie sheet that makes perfectly unburned cookies because I want a crispy crust on the bottom.)

Here are my tips for what will seem like an impossible task: spreading out dough that is slightly gooey:

First of all, get your hands wet. Yes. Wet them.

Then begin to spread the dough out on the pan, moving your palms in opposite directions. It will be thick at first.

When you have it kind of distributed on the pan (but not really), wet your hands again. Now try a sliding motion, like on a slip & slide, across the dough. This is how I get it all the way to the edges.

Q. Can I make the little crusty crusts on the edges, the kind I take home from the pizzeria in a doggy bag and eat for a snack when everybody is in bed?

A. Ah, no. Bob’s dough does not make a traditional crust, as I said earlier. So there will be no left-over pizza crust, or even firsts. It will look beautiful, however, as depicted in my photo.

Q. Will my gluten-free kids like it?

A. In a word, yes. Unless they are so spoiled and so beyond trying something new that you want to send them to the Aleutian Islands.

Q. What about toppings?

A. Use your imagination. The photo shows my marvelous workmanship using sauce, described above; mozzerlla, of course; zucchini slices, bell pepper, white onion and fresh green onion; crushed garlic; and Kretchmar pepperoni, cut in triangles. Aren’t they cute?

Q. What if I am vegetarian?

A. Skip the pepperoni.

Q. How do I know when it’s done?

A. One good thing the package tells you to do is pre-bake the crust for about 7 minutes. This just makes sense, since we are talking about gooey dough. Then you add the toppings and read baking times.

Q. But is it really crispy on the bottom, or a wet, sick mess?

A. It won’t be if you leave it in long enough. That’s the trick. Watch carefully. You don’t want to burn it, but you don’t want it underdone. My oven requires me to turn the pan around to get it fully browned on both sides. So check out how it’s browning. I have not had a problem with it being underdone.

The mix makes two pizzas. Serve salad and it’s a good meal.

What can I say? If it looks like pizza and smells like a pizza, it’s a pizza. FFG

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *