Pizza! Pizza!

toppings

This post comes from the lovely Windy City Vegan… who just so happens to be celebrating her birthday today with some killer lookin’ pizza! Happy Birthday, Monika!

It’s my birthday today and I want the perfect pizza crust for dinner tonight. Over the past few weeks much baking ensued! And once I got this crust figured out I just had to test it out for all three ways that my family eats their pizza – as a straight up traditional flat crust, fried-then-baked street food style, and my favorite, deep dish in a cast iron skillet.

Many, many, many pizzas later, I’m happy to report that this crust does an A+ job at getting it done all three ways.

As a birthday bonus I’m also throwing in my go-to roasted red sauce recipe. It’s a great way to make use of the oven while it’s preheating to 500 degrees, especially if it takes forever the way my behemoth convection oven does.

deep dish wedge

Pizza Crust

Yields 2 10-inch round crusts, 2 12-inch thin round crusts, 1 deep 8- or 10-inch crust, or several small personal-sized crusts.

{wet ingredients}

1 ½ C water, heated to 110 degrees

1 tsp sugar or agave nectar

1 packet (2 ¼ tsp) dry active yeast

1 T sunflower oil, or another oil with a comparable smoking point

…………….

{dry ingredients}

¾ C millet flour (loosely spooned and leveled, not scooped)

¾ C quinoa flour ( same as above)

½ C cornmeal (ground fine or course, your preference)

1 C tapioca starch

½ C potato starch

3 tsp xanthan gum OR 2 T ground flax or white chia seeds + ¼ C boiling water, mixed into a slurry

1 tsp fine grain salt

…………….

Additional oil for your pizza pans

deep dish, out of skillet

Grinding the flours: If you’re a thrifty hippie like myself, then gather up your jars of quinoa and millet, a spice mill/coffee grinder, and get on it already! The measurements above are for flour. I have no idea how much of each grain you need to get ¾ C of flour (although I think it’s pretty comparable).

Proofing the yeast: Combine the wet ingredients including the yeast, whisk to combine taking care that yeast fully dissolves, and set aside for a few minutes.

Mixing the dry ingredients: Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. If using a slurry instead of xanthan gum, DO NOT add it yet.

Mixing your dough: Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and add the yeast mixture. If using the slurry, add this as well. Use a large spatula or mixing spoon and thoroughly – but quickly – mix everything together. A nice, cohesive ball of dough will form within a minute or so. It will be wet and a little sticky; it should not be runny. Add additional water or flour if needed, a tablespoon at a time.  Let the dough rest for about five minutes in the bowl.

Saving dough for later use:  If you aren’t going to use some/all of the dough right away, put the dough into an airtight bowl and store it in the fridge. When you’re ready to use it, let it sit out at room temperature for 90 minutes before proceeding.

The one – and only! – rise: That’s right, yeasted gluten free dough only needs one rise. Lightly oil your pizza pan or pans, divide your dough accordingly, and using lightly oiled fingers, carefully press it out into the pan or pans. Cover loosely with a towel and let the dough sit for 30-60 minutes in a warm area while the oven preheats; the dough won’t double in size, but it will puff up nicely. FYI, your dough will rise perfectly fine in a cool area, too – it will just take longer.

Preheating the oven: Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and move a rack into the bottom position (unless you put your pizza pan directly on the bottom of your oven, which is what I do). If you have a baking stone, place it on the bottom rack/bottom of the oven to preheat with the oven. Also, if you’re making your own sauce this is a great time to roast it up! A recipe for roasted red sauce is at the end of this post.

mise en place

Prepping and baking your pizza: Set everything out mise en place, and as soon as your oven is ready, dress your pizza. Quickly open the oven door and slide your pizza pan into position.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is just starting to brown.

pizzas, prepped

Street food style pizza: While oven is preheating, heat a lightly oiled cast iron skillet over high heat. Pat a piece of dough out to ½ inch thickness and lightly oil on both sides.  When pan is hot, quickly sear the pizza dough for 30 seconds or so on each side. The dough will lightly cook on the outside, but will still be soft inside. Proceed with the step above, but reduce baking time to 10 minutes.

thin crust, baked, cross section

Bonus Recipe!

ready to roast

Roasted Red Sauce

Below are what I usually put into my sauce, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

10-12 roma tomatoes, OR a 28 oz can of whole or crushed tomatoes, drained

2 T brown sugar

1 large onion, cut into inch-sized chunks (white, yellow, red – your choice based on taste preferences)

2-3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 large sweet bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

2 fresh bay leaves

1 large Cuban oregano leaf

Scant amount of quality olive oil

Get out a nice, heavy Dutch oven or roasting dish. Cover the bottom of the pan with the halved romas, cut sides up, and sprinkle with sugar. Next, layer the onion and garlic. On top of that, layer the root vegetables, squash or sweet potatoes and peppers. If using any herbs, tuck them in between the layers. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil over the top layer.

Place pot into the cold oven and then roast for 20-30 minutes while the oven preheats for your pizza.  When everything looks nice and is starting to brown, remove your pot from the oven. Remove bay leaves and anything else you may have added that will not be in the finished sauce. If you have a stick blender, puree everything right in the pot.  If not, ladle the vegetables into a blender or food processor and blend in batches (let cool a little first if you’re ladling it into plastic). Season to taste and you’re good to go!

deep dish, just baked

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