In the last few months there has been some progress – and some setbacks – in my attempts to make a convincingly real gluten-free pizza.
The basic gluten-free pizza recipe is pretty delicious, but there have been some modifications over time as well, in what I hope to be a process of improvement and refinement.
My first concern was that the crust was too brittle and prone to sticking to the pan. It tasted fine, but the pizza often came up in broken chunks and had to be re-assembled on the plate. Then eaten with a fork and knife!
Some of this is because the pizzas I’m making are just DEEP. Its not quite a tomato pie here, but I do like to go a bit overboard on the sauce, the cheese, and the toppings. My girlfriend had to have some special cheese-free sections to try the pizza (I know, we’re a dietary disaster) and she was interested at first but she can’t take all of those canned tomatoes. Hopefully in a few more weeks, our backyard garden will start to produce some yield and I’ll be able to try again with fresher produce.
So then I found that corn starch is effective for holding the crust together, but my friend Steve helped me out with some constructive criticism and announced quickly that it “tastes like a microwave pizza.” And that’s probably a good observation, because I’ve found that those 99 cent microwave pizzas will use a lot of “food starch” without specifying the kind – since corn is just as cheap as or even cheaper than wheat they probably use quite a bit of it to keep their prices down.
When extra corn was ruled out as a solution I decided to try with the Xanthum gum. Now I don’t know why gluten-free bakers swear by this stuff, but it has the capacity to make bread taste borderline terrible. Its just gummy. Who wants bread that tastes gummy? Next!
Let it sit
So far, the best solution has been to let the dough sit for a much longer period of time. Wow, that is actually tougher than it sounds.
Ok, so I let the dough sit on the counter (loosely covered) for about six hours, then I stuck it in the fridge and fell asleep.
When I woke up, it had a borderline awful stench of alcohol, but I added some more sugar to it just before rolling it in to my new cast iron pan. To be safe, I added some sugar to the sauce too – it was going to be a pineapple pizza so the sweetness shouldn’t be a problem and I was honestly way more worried about the bitter alcohol smell coming from way too much fermentation.
But the actual taste and texture of the crust was greatly improved. Ok, the taste was a good bit harsh, but I’m almost convinced that there’s a happy medium between rolling the dough out immediately and letting it sit for an entire day. While this makes planning in to a small nightmare, I am pretty confident that the ideal gluten free pizza dough should have about three to four hours rising at room temperature or maybe twice that if chilling out in the fridge.
You might even be able to use more or less yeast to control the rate of reaction, but I really don’t know. The best piece of advice you’ll ever get in the kitchen is to go ahead and try. Whether you succeed or fail to produce something delicious, you’ll always be able to tell what there was too much or too little of for an improved attempt in the future.