For the most part, preparing a gluten free meal isn’t all that more complicated than preparing a regular meal, but we will concede that certain dishes become much more difficult to create when you eliminate gluten from the recipe. Take pizza, for example.
Pizza is one of the truly great takeout foods and pizzeria-quality pizza is remarkably challenging to recreate in your own kitchen, even when you are using a recipe that relies on gluten.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that homemade gluten-free pizza is almost impossible to get right. Thankfully, nothing is impossible (other than actually disliking pizza, of course). The greatest challenge of homemade gluten-free pizza comes in the form of the base.
The base is arguably the most important part of any pizza and in traditional recipes is primarily manufactured using wheat flour. In gluten-free cooking, however, wheat flour cannot be used, so it’s important you find a quality wheat flour alternative when you are preparing your pizza base.
Using Gluten-Free Pizza Base Instead of Wheat Flour
There are a number of wheat flour alternatives used in gluten-free baking, many of which are better suited for some recipes than others. When it comes to preparing a pizza base, many gluten-free chefs like to use manioc flour, which you may also recognize as tapioca flour or cassava flour.
Manioc flour is actually quite similar to wheat flour when it comes to taste and texture, but contains no gluten and promises certain health benefits that wheat flour does not, as well as being low in sugar and fat.
Many store-bought gluten free pizza crust mixes use rice flour in place of wheat flour, which has its pros and its cons. From a health standpoint, rice flour is among the wisest substitutes for wheat flour as it eases constipation and has a low number of phytonutrients.
However, it should be avoided if you’re trying to recreate the texture of a traditional pizza. We say this because rice flour has been known to harden when cooked, giving it a crunchy, flaky finish that your dinner guests will find difficult to overlook.
What Do I Do After I Choose My Flour?
Once you have decided if you want to use manioc flour or rice flour – or any of the other wheat flour alternatives utilized in gluten free baking and cooking – the hardest part of the process is behind you. However, there are still some tasks you must complete before your pizza base is ready for your chosen toppings. You’ll find them outlined below.
Before you begin mixing your gluten-free flour with the rest of your ingredients, make sure you preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit. You should also take this chance to add one tablespoon of yeast and one tablespoon of sugar to a cup of boiling water.
As your oven warms and your yeast and sugar blend boils, mix a bowl of your chosen flour with half a tablespoon of baking powder, a tablespoon of salt, and two additional tablespoons of sugar. Once you have whisked thoroughly, add your yeast and sugar mixture to the bowl, along with a tablespoon of olive oil, before whisking again.
You want your mixture to be dry at this point, but not to the extent that it resembles clay or sand. We suggest adding another quarter cup of water – maybe even half a cup of water – as you stir to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
Remove your mixture from the bowl and place it on a baking sheet that has been doused in non-stick spray. Preferably using your fingers, spread your mixture across the sheet, pushing from the middle right up to the edge. Although the depth of your base is really up to you, we suggest flattening it to about a quarter of an inch, maybe even a little less, if you want to get that classic thin crust.
Now your base is ready to be placed in the oven, where it should be left to bake for 25-30 minutes, although this time frame shouldn’t be taken as gospel. If you didn’t use a lot of water when preparing your dough, you may find it drying out at the 20 minute mark, in which case you should remove it from the oven right away.
The initial baking of your pizza base is referred to as “pre-baking.” Once pre-baking is complete, it is time to add your sauce, cheeses, and toppings to your base before cooking it for another 20-25 minutes or until the crust turns a golden brown.
Now you are ready for the final step of preparing a gluten-free pizza – enjoying your mouthwatering creation without having to worry about the intestinal issues.