I never believed it was possible until today. No more biscuit dough. No more crisp cracker. No more crust held together with egg whites (not vegan!). Nope. This is something reminiscent of a crunchy, chewy baguette, which requires a good, hearty bite and lots of work from strong jaws to break down. And that's exactly what I like in a pizza crust.
Something about the work involved makes this extra satisfying to me. A crust that disintegrates in your mouth just doesn't feel substantial, and one that's as crisp as a cracker only feels like a snack. This was a meal. Two pieces and I was done (and that was pushing it.... but it was soooo good).
The secret was in the combination of ingredients and technique. I didn't have a recipe, so I scanned the web for others' experiences making gluten-free dough, and I settled in on one with the fewest and most common ingredients, found on Yummly.com. No requirement to grind your own flour, no teff, quinoa, or sorghum flour which are expensive and sometimes hard to find.
Start by proofing your package of yeast in a bowl of 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Add 2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil and 1 tsp sugar and wait till it bubbles.
Then stir in your dry ingredients: 2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Bobs Red Mill 19549 Baking Flour Gluten Free)), 2 tsp xanthan gum, and 1/4 tsp sea salt. The mixture was a little wet, so I let it sit for about 5 minutes since xanthan gum absorbs liquid as it sits. But this didn't, so I added about another 1/2 cup of flour till it pulled away from the sides of the bowl and came together in a loose ball. I still needed to generously dust my hands with flour when I pressed the dough out into the pan, and it still kinda stuck to my fingers like glue (sorry, no photos of that).
As for technique, there was no need to knead, let rise, punch down, or rise a second time (although I do kinda miss that part, but being that I'm impatient, I didn't mind not having to wait). This was ready right away.
The most important trick I learned was from cleangreensimple.com which had the best recommendation ever: cook it on a cast iron skillet. Blogger Jessica Verma recommends placing the skillet in your oven while it preheats for 10-15 minutes while you're making the dough. Then, when your dough is ready, pull the hot skillet out of the oven, flip it over, and stretch your dough out on top.
I didn't trust my flipping skills with a hot pan (those things are SO darn heavy!), so I just pressed my dough out in the pan deep-dish style. The dough recipe I used was enough for 2 pies, so half of the ball fit perfectly in the skillet.
Then I baked it at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes, until it got slightly browned. (My kitchen kinda smelled all yeasty like fresh-baked bread at this point.)
While it was in the oven, I sauteed some zucchini and red onion in a pan, and made a simple sauce with a can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, garlic, fresh basil, and sea salt.
I poured the tomato sauce on top of the crust, added the sauteed veggies, topped it all off with a couple handfuls of Daiya shredded mozzarella, then popped it in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, just to compare, I pressed the other half of the dough out onto an oiled cookie sheet. I topped this with the remaining sauce and veggies. I placed this in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.
The result? Well, as I mentioned, the iron skillet was phenomenal! Crispy, chewy, golden brown, and the flavors came together perfectly. And just look at that crust!!
Had I only used the cookie sheet, I would've been underwhelmed. It was good, but nothing compared to the iron skillet version. Look at that. Not even close.
So, for future reference, when making pizza at home, if you don't have a baking stone, pull out your heavy skillet. It will be worth the effort, and you'll get a little workout in the process.
This pulled away perfectly from the skillet, and crunched when I sliced it.
Another angle of supreme deliciousness.
A dinner of pure love. Leftovers to dream about.