Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pizza Party

Let's get back to it! I hope you all had a great thanksgiving. Are you sick of leftovers yet? I think I promised you pizza.

Yes, the term 'gluten free' can go in the same sentence as pizza - and even beer! Who'd have thought? 






What to do? It was a rainy, cold and cruddy evening as we wandered the isles of Whole Foods and I couldn't think of a thing I wanted to eat. My meat eating, wheat loving boyfriend came to the rescue in the flour isle, grabbing a bag that was above my line of sight (and probably not something I would have chosen alone anyway), suggesting hesitantly, "Want to make pizza?"

Thrilled to death at the idea of making the one thing I absolutely missed more than anything, on top of the fact that I would have a fun evening of food making with great company, I may have literally jumped at the idea. 

Off I went, listing the things I had canned or ready to go at home (toppings and sauce) and the things I didn't (cheese and beer) and planning dinner as an event.


First, off to the beer section of the store for some expensive but delicious sorghum ale, then to another store for some Rennet and Citric Acid for the homemade mozzarella, then home for an adventure in pizza making!

This is less of a recipe and more of a "You can do it (and not believe how much fun it can be)" post!


The Pizza Party 


Gather

Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix - I used Bob's Red Mill
(I'll post and link whatever I use next time, or check out the Gluten Free Goddess, her recipes are always amazing, and as I noticed after I'd written this, we agree that dinner rolls and pizza crust are not so different)

             Ingredients that Bob called for
             -2 eggs
             -Yeast packet (included)
             -2 Tbsp Olive oil
             -1 & 1/2 cups of Warm water

Tomato sauce
Tomato paste to thicken, if needed
Mozzarella Cheese - See Cheese
Toppings - mine were thinly sliced green peppers and onions and his were overly thick and eventually cup shaped pepperoni.

It's so simple, really. The cheese may be the most difficult part because you need to keep an eye on the temperature of the milk and do a bit of kneading, but it wasn't hard by any means

Preheat oven to 425'

Dough - His Job

If you are preparing the pizza alone, I suggest checking the Cheese recipe and maybe getting things to room temperature, then starting the dough. You will have to wait for it to rise and the timing should be perfect. Or again, simply buy your cheese. In our case, we started at the same time, I worked on the cheese since I had more experience with it.

The exact package instructions are here (but mine are more fun)

He mixed the water and yeast for a bit, then beat the eggs into it with the oil and added everything to the flour mixture as per the directions. There is already evaporated cane juice in the mixture for the yeast to feed on to rise, so no additional sweetener is necessary.

He mixed it by hand with a whisk, though I'm pretty sure that when the directions said "beat on medium" they weren't referring the effort put forth in whisking. No matter, he got it done, my arm would certainly have been sore, and it made for a giggle when it was all finished.

Continuing to simply follow directions (as well as I can be expected to, now that I was also reading them and waiting around for my milk to warm up) he separated the dough into two balls and covered to rise.

Once risen, this also lent itself to a few giggles

The directions called for 20 minute of rising, but it seemed to have barely changed in that time. Another 10 minutes did the trick, though its certainly up to your discretion.

While we patiently waited for the very sticky dough to rise, I finished up the Cheese, microwaving and kneading to perfection. Be sure to cover and/or wrap the cheese if you are not using it immediately. It will dry out quicker than you can believe. Also, try not to eat it all before getting it onto the pizza! It's a reasonable warning, wait and see.




Spread

Being a bit rough on the dough

On that lovely greased cookie sheet you are using, or pizza pan if you have one (or two), it's time to lay out your crust. My experience was that this was a bit too much dough for one 16' pizza, as it recommends. Try a cookie sheet, if you don't care about the shape, make two round ones or save some extra dough for dinner rolls, it has the perfect taste and texture for that (and pizzeria's do it all the time!). Basically, you want to make sure the dough is not too thick in the middle as the crust is around the edges. It will cook more evenly and it won't be doughy.



The one suggestion that is ever important with GF baking, use wet hands when shaping your dough. Since you can't flour them, water is perfect. Your hands will glide over the dough like Demi Moore's over clay in a steamy, ghostly love scene. Maybe it's a bit dramatic, but that's what I think of. 


Bake

Don't skip this step! You need to par-bake the crust to have a crispy final product. about 9 minutes did it, though my crust was a bit thick. Just check it and be sure its at least dry and firm.


Top

I mixed a bit of the tomato paste in with my sauce as freezing had it made it too watery to work for this pizza, then spread it, leaving about an inch or so for the crust.

If it were still available as an option, I would have preferred my stewed tomatoes from the garden this year, but they all went to late night GFree wrap pizzas and as gifts to friends (not next year!).

  
We sliced the cheese and arranged it in an aesthetically pleasing manner, though a bit thick. Did you know it's tough to slice soft, warm cheese thinly?

Next time, refrigerating it, then shredding. Easier and it melts more evenly.



We then popped the pizza in the oven for another 18 minutes, but, due to the thickness of everything, put it back in for another 10.

To stop the peperoni from curling, if you happen to use some,
just slice a nick on one side, from the center to the edge, while still cold.
It will cook flat.


We then sliced, ate and enjoyed some tasty, fun, homemade gluten free pizza! But not before a few more pictures, of course.




*After having this crust mix, I will say that it is not bad and that I may use it again for some quick dinner rolls, maybe even pizza as long as I make it a bit thinner in the center, but I will definitely make my own flour mix next time.


Although the health advantages are not as apparent in this one, you are getting as big a dose of veggies as you choose to pile on the pie, as well as a serving of whole grains and some great protein, along with the fat of the cheese. 

You are also getting the sense of calm and normalcy that comes from spending time with good people and eating a favorite comfort food. Sometimes you just need a little gluten free gluttony!

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