Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pan Pizza like you remember it, But now it's gluten free

I know, I know, you thought I was dead!  Between knee injury, move, injure the other knee, major knee surgery and recovery, I have not been doing much baking.  But now I'm back!

Every time a new pizza place comes out with gluten free crusts, I rush out to try it, hoping that it will be pizza like I wanted it to be.  Remember going out to Pizza Hut and getting that thick, chewy crust pan pizza?  That's what I'm looking for.  Time and time again, I go to a restaurant with hope and expectation, and every time I get served pizza sauce and toppings on a thin sliver of something made to hold the toppings, but never what I crave.

The other day (okay it was 3 am and I couldn't sleep) I was obsessing about the crust I remember, what I wanted, and I remembered the Focaccia Bread recipe that I created for the Ratio Rally.  It hit me that the focaccia bread was the same texture I wanted for a pizza crust!

Follow the directions for the focaccia bread.  I know that this recipe requires planning ahead, but it is so worth it.  I knew I was going to make the pizza today, so last night, I measured out the dry ingredients before I went to bed.  This morning before work, I made the biga and put it in the oven with the light on and a damp towel on top (it took about 5 minutes).  Then when I got home, I put together the rest of the wet ingredients with the psyllium and finished the dough.

When I first started making bread by weight, I thought it was cumbersome, but I learned the trick is to zero out the scale after each ingredient, and I can just sprinkle the ingredient in on top.  It's actually faster and I don't have to wash the measuring cups and spoons.  If you don't have a kitchen scale, there are online conversion tools to convert from grams to traditional measuring, though I recommend getting a scale, there are inexpensive ($15-25) at most stores.

When the dough is done mixing, spread it in oiled pizza pan.  I used a pan with small holes in the bottom because the dough does tend to sweat.  You can roughly spread the dough with damp hands, then drizzle a small amount of olive oil (I use an oil infused with garlic and herbs) on the dough and spread it around.  Use it to finish spreading the dough and smooth it out.  I like the dough thick, so I use a smaller pan and spread it out about 1/2 inch thick.  One recipe made a 12" crust.  If you like a thinner crust, you can make a bigger pizza.  Sprinkle garlic salt on the crust. 

Place the crust in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.  If you let it rise too long it will shrink when baking.  It will look soft and puffy.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 Degrees  I normally cook pizza at 425 but I found that with the thick crust, the toppings burn before the pizza is ready.

Spread the crust with your favorite sauce.  I'm lazy and I use a good pasta sauce.  Top with your favorite toppings and sprinkle with cheese.  Be careful while topping the pizza, the dough is very tender.  Sprinkle an Italian seasoning lightly on top of the cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and just starting to brown.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 4-5 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy pizza like you remember it!

P.S.  I decided to try par baking a small crust and freezing it to see how it held up.  I was very happy with the result. I bake the crust the same as above  for 8 minutes without any toppings or sauce. then I let it cool, wrapped it, and put it in the freezer. Today I thawed it, topped, it and baked it for another 8 to 10 minutes. It turned out great, so in the future when I make this I will make a large batch and freeze small individual crusts so that we can have quick pizzas on a busy day.