So, on the subject of gluten-free pizza… Like I’ve said before, I wasn’t particularly sad when I received my celiac diagnosis. With time, I did begin missing a few items, such as being able to bite into the absolutely amazing pain au chocolat that I ate during my Paris vacation, and – of course! – the truly delicious pizza at da Franco’s. Luckily, shortly after my diagnosis, one of the near-by Italian restaurants, Mimmo & Santo, decided to offer gluten-free pizza and pasta. They continue to be the only option for gluten-free pizza in Cologne to this day. Their pizza dough is made out of buckwheat flour, so it’s whole grain. I’m really grateful that they offer gluten-free pizza at all, but I feel that pizza is a really unhealthy dish and offering a whole grain pie is nice on occasion, but it doesn’t really satisfy my craving to the fullest.
I went without good pizza between April and June 2013. I did try out several mixes that they sell at the organic supermarket, and even tried making my own dough, but it never blew my mind. Then, we spent our vacation in Tignale, just above Lake Garda. We ended up eating pizza every other day at the pizzeria across the street, because it was so amazingly good. It was food heaven for me. I really wish I could have packed up the place in its entirety and re-built it somewhere near my house. But alas, that wasn’t possible, so after eating four giant pizzas in eight days we sadly left Tignale and the best gluten-free pizzeria known to man behind.
Since our vacation, I have been on the hunt for the best gluten-free pizza. I ate at Da Cimino Rosa in Frankfurt – and was not amused at all. It probably was the most loveless pizza I have ever eaten, apart from which the waiter brought regular bread for my friend and I with a plate for each of us and didn’t even apologize when I told him that I had no use for the plate, since I couldn’t eat any of the bread anyway. It’s not a big deal if stuff like this happens, but it’s in these details that you can tell apart a good gluten-free caterer (one that really trains its staff about their products) from a bad one. In January, for my birthday, my husband took me to Piazza San Paolo in Bonn-Lengsdorf. Their pizza was the best I’ve had in Germany so far, and I’ve been craving it since, but it couldn’t reach the pizza I had in Tignale by a long shot.
Meanwhile, I continued experimenting with pizza dough. At some point I realized that my goal was a thin, crispy dough, mimicking the pizzas of good pizzerias, with a nice thick layer of crust surrounding the pizza. So I quit making thick US-American-style pizzas dough. I googled and found a recipe on Girl Cooks World. I’ve tried the recipe with several different flours. I found this recipe to not work with sorghum. It was a little too sour. When not adding gluten-free flour mix to the dough, the crust would be too crispy. As in: we couldn’t cut it into pieces without fear of stabbing each other.
I think that I have now just about perfected it to my taste and in terms of texture. I may try it with other flour types, and I’ll let you know if anything changes and I find an even tastier version. But please go ahead and try this recipe. It is definitely the best homemade pizza I have ever eaten. The pizza crust is vegan, and as for the toppings: if you want a vegan version, there’s nothing easier done than that, no? In fact, I love it so much, I may just tell Mimmo & Santo about it and ask if I may roast up one of these babies in their pro-oven.
Ingredients (for two pizza pies):
1/3 cup super fine rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
2/3 cups gluten-free flour mix (I used Schaer Farine)
1 tsp gluten-free agents (this is what I call a mix of xanthan and guar gums, arrowroot and carob flours in equal parts, I always have a small jar of it handy, and take out whatever I need and then simply refill and re-mix as required)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp instant dry yeast (about 5 g) 1 tbsp sugar
¾ cup warm soda water
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
One generous chug extra-virgin olive oil
sweet rice flour (for distributing the dough on the baking tin)
1 medium can chunky tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp vegetable broth powder (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
pizza toppings as you fancy (I love button mushrooms, artichokes and mozzarella; I add a bit of grated parmiggiano at the end)
In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (except the sweet rice flour, which you will need later).
Place the dry yeast in a separate bowl, add the sugar and the warm soda water (if you are scared of killing the yeast, just use water at room temperature and let the dough rise a little longer). Using a whisk, dilute the yeast. Add the vinegar and the oil.
Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients and knead into a dough. The dough will be difficult to manage and rather on the liquid side, so if need be, add a bit of additional gluten-free flour mix (a tbsp or two). You want to be able to form a pizza pie with it, after all! Knead the dough for a couple of minutes, and then let rest below a humid kitchen towel for an hour or two until it has about doubled in size.
Line two baking tins (or pizza tins, if you have them) with baking parchment; take half of the pizza dough and place it onto the baking parchment. Cover entirely with sweet rice flour. Using the help of the rice flour spread the dough out carefully into an even pizza pie. You may need to add more sweet rice flour as you go.
Repeat with the remaining part of the dough.
Heat your oven to 250°C.
Meanwhile, you can make your tomato sauce. For pizza, I find placing all the ingredients into a bowl and then microwaving it for about three minutes renders really good results, but you can of course make it by frying some chopped onions (not listed above), adding all the ingredients listed above and then letting it boil for about five minutes.
Take pies out of the oven and spoon one half of the tomato sauce onto each pizza pie, distributing the sauce evenly. Then add the shredded mozzarella and generously add whatever topping you prefer on pizza. Like I said, I love button mushrooms and artichokes, so I add those in slices. As you can see: the toppings tend to shrink while in the oven, so don’t be afraid to overload the pizza for a nicely full pie. Sometimes, the ingredients will shed some water, so just scoop it up with a paper towel. Be careful not to burn yourself! 😉
Bake the pizzas for about twenty to twenty five minutes. I usually rotate the pizzas around the oven about half way through the baking process (putting the one which started out below the other on top and placing the pizza which was originally on the top-tin below the other). I may even rotate them again for the last few minutes. This way, the pizza crust roasts evenly and I have really crispy results in the cheese, too.