Homemade pizza is a family tradition. Every Christmas Eve for decades, the family would get together and make pizza. There were also many Sunday family dinners where we would make several pizzas, five or six was not unusual. All with a homemade crust and sauce. It was fun and a great bonding time for all of us!
When the gluten free life slammed into my life, the crust was a struggle. When I was testing recipes, the outcome was not even close to the crisp and rich gluten loaded pizza crusts of my past. I decided to take on perfecting the crust and get it as close to the original as possible. I started out using the same proportions of the original crust recipe, with dismal results. Next, I tried a combination of other recipes, attempting to achieve the results I was looking for. I wanted a somewhat thin crust that would not collapse under the toppings. This year, it took four tries to get it right. But below is the best so far.
A couple of notes about this. Most recipes create a dough that’s more like a cookie dough, or a muffin batter. The new recipe is similar to a cookie dough, but when I made it, I used more of a biscuit method to combine the ingredients. And I ditched the mixer. Instead, I used a wooden spoon and, after all of the ingredients were in the bowl, I kneaded by hand to make sure everything was well combined and no dry bits of flour were left. This dough is very sticky, so gloves are recommended. My goal was not to incorporate air, which a stand mixer will do. I wanted a dense, but tender crust, like a cracker. if you want a lighter crust, then use the mixer for about 5 minutes on medium before the first proofing.
Pizza crust doesn’t really need volume as much as it needs the flavor from the yeast giving up all of it’s energy. I added the water in increments to hydrate the flour blend slowly and evenly.
The double rise does a couple of things. The first rise softens and fully hydrates the flour granules and allows the baking powder to fully activate. The second rise on the pan really lets the yeast do it’s job and create a delicious yeasty flavor that a pizza crust should have. I let it go thirty minutes to get as much flavor as possible. The crusts could probably be allowed to rise in the refrigerator overnight and brought up to room temperature before baking.
Par- baking is extremely important for any gluten free crust. Because of the starches in the flour blend, any sauce would be absorbed very quickly into the raw dough crust, leaving a soggy base, that even after baking, continues to be dough. The par-bake creates a seal on the surface and makes the final bake faster. I tried a lower temp bake on the first crust, and high heat on the second crust. The high heat worked significantly better, and the bottom was crisp and delicious. My preference is a dark steel or aluminum pan in the 14-16 inch range. Don’t store leftovers on aluminum pans. The sauce will react with the metal and cause pits in the surface. My pans are old, dark and well-seasoned. Also, don’t buy non-stick pans for pizza. The high heat and any cutting and scrapping in the pan will make that surface toxic in one use.
You may notice that all of this recipe is portioned by weight. All baking is somewhat precise, but baking gluten free is even more precise, so I always weigh my ingredients. There is never an issue with inaccurate measuring devices when baking. Digital kitchen scales are inexpensive and once you make the switch, you may never go back. I like the OXO scale because the display pulls away from the base, making weighing larger items easier
Reheating pizza is always a struggle. The best method is to reheat in a skillet or on a grill pan, stove top. I usually cover for a few minutes to steam the toppings.
Gluten Free Pizza Crust
10 Ounces gluten free flour with xanthan gum (about 2 cups)
2 ounces white rice flour (¼ cup)
2 ounces oat flour (¼ cup)
2 teaspoons psyllium husk powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoon cooking oil
Cooking spray as needed
Combine the flours, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine. Heat 1 cup of water and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve and add the yeast; set aside to allow the yeast to bloom, about 5 minutes. Using a hand mixer, slowly add the yeast, water and sugar mixture to moisten the flour blend. Once all of the liquid is incorporated, lightly beat the egg and cider vinegar, and add to the dough slowly. Heat ½ cup of water and add 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is stiff but pliable. Knead the dough by hand for 2 minutes. The dough will be sticky so use a little cooking oil on your hands, if desired. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. The dough will not double in size, but the yeast will activate and soften the dough. After one hour, turn the dough out and split into to equal pieces, about 13 ounces each. Oil two 12-14-inch pizza pans. Make each dough ball into a disk, and starting from the center spread the dough to your desired thickness. I like mine a little thin. Just like a pie dough mash together any small holes and tears. Create a ridge for the edge of the crust. Cover with plastic wrap and rest for 15-30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Par-bake the crust for 10 minutes, allow to cool before adding toppings. Once topped, bake at 450 for 20 minutes, turning once for even baking. Rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Try this easy pizza sauce!
To reheat any leftovers, place a slice in a non-stick skillet stove top. This will keep the crust crisp. Microwave is okay but the crust will be soggy and floppy.