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Archive for November 2nd, 2011

Great Pizza – no Wheat/Yeast!

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

I’ve been eating without yeast since 1991. I’ve been without wheat for maybe 5 years, maybe more. I honestly don’t feel tempted to “cheat” because I feel so crummy if I do.

You may have similar limitations. It’s becoming rather widespread right now, this food-restriction situation. We won’t get into why, but I remember how alone I felt at first.

Gourmet, thanks to Restrictions

Usually, I feel as though we eat gourmet around here… excellent food, flavors, quality, ingredients. Everything we eat is really superb.

However, there are missing pieces. Sometimes certain foods haunt my memory.

I love chewy foods, in particular. Tapioca helps sometimes. Pizza (made with both wheat and yeast) was something I didn’t miss for a long time. However, walking past a pizza restaurant brought back longings.

The Exploration Process

Once I started experimenting  in the kitchen, I started to wonder if I could make something which would satisfy my pizza cravings. Of course, the first many experiments were failures.

I ended up with fragile biscuit-like doughs which could not be picked up in the hands without self-destructing. Sometimes they got soggy, on top of the fragile texture. Those we ate with forks, and it was dinner… but not pizza.

I didn’t know how to solve the falling-apart issue. Most gluten-free/wheat-free mixes solve the stick-together issue by adding Xanthan Gum. Because it is made by fermented corn, it is a problem for me. I put pizza dough on the mental back burner and went back to simpler challenges.

Sweet Rice Flour (AKA Mochi Flour)

When I found out about sweet white rice flour (also called sticky rice, mochi, or “glutinous rice” though it has no gluten), I figured out how to make chewy brownies, which had eluded my mastery for many years.

And then I had an “Aha!” moment. Maybe sticky rice could also hold together a pizza crust? Indeed, it could. It took a good number of tweaks to get it really good, but the first one was better than all the previous tries put together.

I combine the rice with Teff flour, which is high-protein and high-fiber. Teff is tasty, a helpful attribute when used with bland rice. I also use flax seed meal which adds nutrition and has a different type of stickiness to help bind the crust.

Teff can dry out quickly. Because of that, this crust tends to get crispy/crunchy at the edges if made as illustrated here.

I sort of like that feature, but for those who prefer chewy edges, there are a few tricks which will help a lot. You get a slightly smaller pizza that way, but it is a bit more like the pizzas you remember from pre-food-restriction days.

Pizza as a Creative Art

We have become really fond of pizza with all sorts of toppings on it. I figure pizza crust just needs some sort of “sauce” under it, and some toppings on it.

I can’t have any sort of cheese, even the soy or allergy-friendly ones. They all have xanthan gum or yeast flavoring or some such thing. (Someone will ask about goat cheese… I do worse with goat milk than organic cow-dairy milk.) No cheese meant that I got more creative.

We use pizza as a feast from our leftovers about once a week now. I have used all sorts of sauces, from Eden brand Crushed Tomatoes, Tomatillo Salsa Verde (helps to strain some of the water out first), leftover Indian Eggplant (Baigan Burtha), homemade pesto, and the always spectacular black olive paste (sometimes called Tapenade).

For me, pizza really needs onions on it (I can’t have garlic). I usually saute some in a small frying pan, in olive oil, while pre-baking the crust. Other than that, we’ve put leftover collard greens on pizza, sliced home-grown tomato (really good on the olive paste base).

No Cheese?

I happen to love black olives. I find that they have the oil, the salt, and a similar-enough texture to mozzarella that I feel satisfied. There is nothing like the chewiness of pizza cheese, but a good crust and good toppings come together quite well.

Someone asked me how the pizza stayed “stuck” together without the cheese. If you have a sturdy crust, it will hold things on it just fine. I don’t think we lose more toppings while eating this than we did with standard pizza.

Are you ready for the recipe? Remember, if you can get the ingredients locally, please support your local businesses. If you can’t, then the folks at Bob’s Red Mill have a great mail-order/website sales staff. Click that link to order your flour and flax meal, and you’ll have what you need without much delay.

Lynn’s No-Junk Pizza Crust

Makes one pizza, 2 moderate adult portions.
Dry Ingredients:
1 cup Sweet White Rice Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill—
must be SWEET rice, no substitute)
1/2 cup Teff flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 Tbsp Flax meal (golden flax shows less, any type works)
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/8 tsp Cream of tartar

Wet Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Oil (use any you tolerate, I often use olive)
3/4 cup Hot water

Preheat oven to 350F / 177C

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly (I use a wire whisk). Add wet ingredients, mix with fork until just mixed.

Gently press dough together with clean hands, until it makes a cohesive “blob.” Let rest at least 3 minutes.

Prepare jelly roll pan with a dusting of teff flour in the center. Sprinkle teff flour on dough ball until it feels mostly dry on the surface.

Press dough into oval shape with hands, onto pan, adding sprinkles of teff flour as it becomes sticky. Use a rolling pin or flat-sided glass to roll it thinner, from center to edge, until about 1/8 inch / 3mm thick.

If you prefer a thicker, chewier crust on the edge, turn under or over about 1/2 inch/13mm of the dough edge (something like a pie crust). Press into a thicker/smoother edge. Using a pastry brush and olive oil (or other oil you tolerate), baste around the circumference of the pizza, covering the thicker dough edges. This keeps the edges from becoming crispy, protecting its chewiness. The photos here do not show this extra step.

Pre-bake crust for 15 minutes.  (This is when I saute onions/veggies for the toppings.) As you remove crust from oven, increase heat in oven to 375F / 190C. The crust may have some cracks in it, which is not a problem.

Prepare for Toppings

Using pastry brush and olive oil, baste entire crust. This keeps it from getting soggy in the middle from toppings, and prevents the edges from becoming too crisp. Don’t fret about the oil, it’s much healthier than dairy fat in cheese, and you wouldn’t mind cheese on pizza, would you?

Spread the sauce of your choice on the oiled crust. If you are making a standard pizza, use crushed tomato plus a generous sprinkle of dried basil and oregano (or Italian Seasoning – but read ingredients first, they can change from batch to batch).

Add desired toppings. Black olives are highly recommended if you do not tolerate cheese. I usually add sauteed onions and other veggies. Very thinly sliced cauliflower or greens are pleasant changes of pace, and we’ve even put summer squash on ours.

If your toppings don’t have oil in them already, lightly trickle some olive oil over the whole assembly.

Bake again (at the higher temperature), for 12-18 minutes depending on the type and quantity of toppings you used. It should be sizzling when done, and your veggies should look a bit droopy from cooking.

Cut with scissors or pizza cutter. Enjoy!

Final photo shows black olive paste as the sauce, with orange home-grown tomatoes, onion, sauteed kale and tiny squares of extra-firm tofu.
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Copyright 2011 Lynn DT Hershberger
Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported” license—    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

This means you may share my recipe for non-commercial use, but (please) use the same text I did, and give me credit for being its source. If you want to use it commercially, please write me first and we’ll work out something.

I spent a lot of time figuring this out and writing it up for you. Enjoy it, share it… and perhaps help me find folks who can benefit from my work? There are still suffering folks out there.