Thursday 23 October 2014

Pizza? Pizza.

The picture says it all: gluten-free pizza that's easy to handle. You might even say it's...easy as pie (pun entirely intentional).  Easy to shape - no more dough stuck to the baking sheet. Easy to transfer directly to a baking stone, no parchment required. Easy to top with anything you like, without having to worry about the crust tearing or the sauce leaking through. Easy to enjoy - crisp and chewy, no soggy crust, no fork needed. It even keeps its texture after a night in the refrigerator. (And if cold pizza's not your thing, don't worry - it reheats beautifully too.)

The best part: it works with almost any recipe. That's right. This isn't a recipe per se - it's a process I've been using for a while now, and it's made pizza go smoothly no matter what kind of dough I'm working with. Don't worry about the strength of your dough. In fact, a relatively soft dough will be easiest to work with here, and will create a better texture in the pizza. As long as you're using a dough that can be handled - meaning actual dough, not a batter - it will work with this technique! Even for thin-crust pizzas! 

So are you ready for the secret? OK, here we go:

Yep. It's spring roll wrappers. Simply press out the dough on one of these rice-flour wrappers, and you have a small-ish pizza that stands up to everything pizza dough should. (OK, most things. Don't go trying to spin it over your head or anything silly like that.)

Is it cheating? Maybe a little. 
...Oh well, I'm too busy enjoying pizza night to let it bother me much! 

So here's how to do it:

Start by mixing up some dough. Personally, I really like using a multigrain sourdough, but a lighter dough (as shown in these pictures) is great too. If you're in need of a recipe, something along the lines of this, this, or even this will do just fine.

Next, weigh your dough and divide it up. For a standard wrapper, based on my experience, 190 grams of dough will make a thin crust, and up to 250 grams for a thicker crust. You may need slightly more or slightly less depending on how wet your dough is and how workable it is; don't worry if it's not quite exact. Press each portion into a disc shape.

Get out a spring roll wrapper. They are quite thin - make sure you're getting just one! Dust a work surface (countertop, baking sheet, pizza peel, whatever) with some cornmeal, and set the wrapper on it. Brush the entire surface of the wrapper (just one side!) with a little water, taking care to avoid letting any water get underneath the wrapper - that will make it stick. It doesn't need to be very wet, just moisten it enough that the dough will adhere to it.

Now, put one of your dough portions in the center of the wrapper. Using a gentle rocking motion, use the heel of your hand or the side of your hand to roll the dough to the edges. It may take a minute to get the hang of this motion, but once you get it, the process goes pretty quickly. Don't push or spread it, or anything else that will put a lot of force on the dough - this will stretch out the wrapper and possibly tear it. For this same reason, don't use a rolling pin. Just gently rock your hand to gradually squeeze the dough from the center outwards. 

Repeat for the rest of your dough portions.

At this point, you can move them to a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel/baking sheet to let them rise and add toppings now, or you can put them in the fridge for a few hours before topping them (if refrigerating, drape some waxed paper over them so they don't dry out).
When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 450º F with a baking stone on one of the lowest two racks. 
Put on whatever toppings you like.
When the oven is at a stable temperature, simply grab the edge of each pizza and drag it onto the stone. I didn't get a picture of this step because it's very hard to take a picture while standing in front of an open, hot oven. But it's essentially the same move as this - just don't lift the edge so high, obviously, or the toppings will fall off!

Bake time will vary depending on crust thickness, topping types, and amount of toppings. Generally, though, the pizzas will take 20-30 minutes. If they are done, it should be easy to slip a pizza peel or baking sheet underneath them.

Let cool for just a few minutes before cutting. I find it easiest to cut them with kitchen scissors. 

I realize you're probably wondering where the pictures of the finished pizza are. Sadly, I didn't manage to get any of those either. By the time the pizzas came out of the oven, it was dark, meaning the lighting was terrible. (Also, it was late, meaning we were hungry.) The good news is, since making pizza is so easy now, I make it pretty frequently. So, don't worry, I promise I'll take some pictures the next time! For now, enjoy your pizza!

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