Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Moby Dick

For every cook, there's at least one recipe, technique, something, that defies them. From souffles to petit fours to certain particularly finicky cuts of meat (I'm looking at you, pork chop!), there's a Moby Dick to every cook's Captain Ahab.

Mine, like many other gluten frees was pizza.




After about 23291029 not-quite-right attempts, I finally got it right.

Look no further for the ultimate thick, crusty, chewy pizza crust. The type you get at fancy rustic pizza boutiques where they pile 10 different cheeses and simple homemade marinara on top of a sturdy, crusty, delicious crust.

There's no soggy, dense middle. No extra special techniques. No funny ingredients. No icky sweet aftertaste.

I mean look at this. Just look at this:

And here's how you can make one of your very own. Or, you know, make me one. Mushrooms are my favorite topping. Just, uhm, fyi.

Gluten Free Crusty Pizza Crust
Makes one 11-inch crust

80g brown rice flour
60g oat flour
61g tapioca flour
1/2 tbs. yeast
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tbs. xanthan
Optional: herbs, garlic powder, or other flavorings to mix in

2/3 cup warm water (you may need more)
1 egg, beaten
2 scant tbs. olive oil
Sprinkle of sugar (maybe 1/2 tsp. or so)

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Make sure to whisk very thoroughly to avoid pockets of isolated ingredients. Big bites of xanthan gum are not yummy. Combine the warm water, olive oil, and a sprinkle of sugar in a small bowl. Beat the egg in another bowl. Add the water/oil mix and the egg to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Your dough will be damp and sticky, but still doughy (think the type of gluten dough you'd want to add another 1/4 cup flour to).

Flour a baking sheet or pizza pan. Turn the dough out onto the floured pan, and with floured fingers, pat it into the desired round shape. Mine was a bit more than 1/4 inch thick. Cover your crust with a piece of wax paper or saran wrap and leave to rise at room temperature for about an hour and a half. (Mine went more like 2 hours and it came out great). The crust will look lumpy and thick, not smooth.

You may be wondering what's up with the single rise. Every gluten yeast bread, and most gluten free yeast breads call for two rises. The purpose of the second rise is mostly twofold: 1, it reshapes the loaf after you've squeezed air bubbles out by shaping and repositioning it. 2, it develops the gluten. Neither are issues in this case, as we're not working with gluten (that's the point!) and we are not doing any shaping. 2nd rise here: not necessary.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When it's hot, put your pizza in on the middle rack. Put a pan with a cup or so of water on the bottom rack. This will provide the steam that will make your crust ...crusty. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crusty but still light. Remove from the oven, spread with sauce and toppings (I did tomato sauce and mozarella, parmesan, and ricotta), and return to the oven to bake until the cheese is melty and bubbly.

Serves 2-4. If you're the sharing type.

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