This part of my life began when my very sick partner was diagnosed with Celiac. Even the slightest exposure to gluten can make him very ill for several days, so I have pursued gluten-free options with thorough aggression. In the U.S. a recent surge of gluten awareness means we have more choices than ever, but it still means hunting and analyzing and tracking down parent companies. After several years now of doing so, I want to share my tricks and tips with others who are still struggling.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Recipe Modification: Perfect Thick-Crust Bready Pan Pizza (and Cheese Bread)

While a gluten-free thin crust pizza is fairly simple and easy to buy or make from scratch, one of my real challenges has been a perfectly bready, crusty, chewy, thick crust.  They either turn out gummy or crumbly.  But I have finally broken through and created what is close to a perfect crust.  It is crispy on the bottom, chewy and bready in the middle. 

I started with Simply Gluten Free's recipe for easy gluten-free french bread (it is my go-to bread recipe, and turns out an amazing loaf). 

I left out the xanthan gum and added 3 teaspoons milled chia seeds mixed well with 6 teaspoons hot water.  See my post on substituting chia for xanthan gum for details on this substitution.  The chia gives the crust a chewier texture without the "gum" aftertaste. 

Use a 12" cast-iron pan, if possible, or a 12-inch cake pan will do (but won't get the bottom as crispy).  Don't use a teflon coated pan; it can't take the heat.  You will need an additional small loaf pan or 8" cast-iron pan as well.  The original recipe makes too much batter, so I turned the leftover into cheese bread.   You can, of course, make two small pizzas in 9" cast-iron pans. 

Prepare the bread recipe as above to the point where you are mixing the dough for several minutes in the stand mixer.  Then come back to this page. It's okay, I'll wait....


 Keep the mixer going for about 5-6 minutes total for a lighter crust.

While it is mixing, melt 2 Tablespoons butter in the larger pan.  Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  Grease the smaller pan with shortening, or coat bottom and sides with olive oil.

Spread the batter in the larger pan to approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep (depending on how thick you want your crust).  Dipping your fingers in olive oil will allow you to spread the batter without it sticking to your fingers.  You will use the olive oil later for the cheese bread anyway, so pour about 1/3 cup into a bowl and use it for spreading.

Spread the leftover dough in the smaller pan.  

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Set the pans in a warm but not hot place (I put them on the top of the oven away from the vent) to rise.  Let them rise about 20 minutes. 

Bake at 450 for 25 minutes.

While it is baking, mix 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/8 teaspoon grated garlic powder, and a pinch of fresh grated black pepper and sea salt to the leftover olive oil and mix well.  This gives the flavor some time to emerge. 

Add pizza sauce, cheese and toppings to the larger pizza.   Brush the smaller crust with the olive oil/cheese/spice mix and sprinkle with a thin layer of mozzarella. 

Bake both for an additional 15 minutes.  The larger pizza may need an additional 5 minutes if you added a lot of toppings. 

Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.

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