Just how important are measurements really?
When baking gluten free, I cannot emphasise enough how very important it is to measure all the extra added ingredients accurately. Investing on a scale for weighing other added ingredients will help you achieve the best results. So please take a look at the ‘Top Tips’ below. ‘When baking gluten free there is no wiggle room, and you might want to blame any guesses you make, which results in failure on yourself.’
Tasty Pizza Crusts
For a nice crust, set your oven to around 180°C/160°Fan/Gas 4 (This dough definitely doesn’t need an oven hotter than 200C, although I’m aware of restaurants which have successfully baked our pizza bases in their high temperature ovens). When the oven reaches the right temperature, place your pizza base in. If you are part-baking the bases, set an alarm or do not take your eyes of that oven even for 2 minutes! Otherwise your pizza base might overbake and become hard. To help prevent the pizza base from puffing up high, add a thin layer of well-reduced tomato sauce or red pesto over the base.
Put the flour mix in a bowl, then make a well in the middle, add the lightly beaten egg, oil and milk. Then using your hands, ‘scrunch’ all the ingredients together, incorporating all the flour until you have a nice dough. This can be very messy and sticky. However, it will all come together when you start the kneading process. You can use a food processor to make the dough and speed the process.
Has your dough been kneaded enough?
The kneading process helps you work in the other ingredients with the mix and create a smooth, pliable dough. This process can take between 5 and 7 minutes until the consistency of the dough changes and it becomes smoother. If you have kneaded your dough enough, the dough should be pliable, not sticky and it will be easy to roll out with the help of a rolling pin and a little coarse cornmeal or all-purpose Cassava flour to add a bit of a grip to the dough making it easier to roll it out. Add little oil or a bit more egg rather than milk or water if your dough feels a little dry, if the dough is not quite coming together keep kneading. You could use a food processor to help you with this job if you wish. Always check the weight of the eggs you’ll be using, because the egg could be on the smaller side and this will have a huge impact on your ability of you making a good pizza dough.
Chewy, Gooey or slimy base syndrome…
The most frustrating problem of all – the chewy, gooey, slimy or soggy bottom. This normally happens because too much liquid has been added to the dough or introduced during the assembling of the pizza. This could also happen if the oven is not hot enough or too hot as if the oven is too hot it will cook the dough on the outside too quickly and leave it uncooked on the inside. But it also could be that you have not rolled your pizza base thin enough.
But mostly important to notice is that this blend of flours is not forgiving at all, if you add even just 20ml more of milk or a smaller egg or a combination of both of these and less than the requested amount in the packaging you’ll not end up with good dough. I recommend that you use a scale to weight all your liquid ingredients, I don’t take any chances whenever I’m baking gluten free and so shouldn’t you. A chewy, gooey or slimy pizza base is a sign that too much liquid has been added to the base at some stage of the prepping, either during the dough making or when adding the toppings
It is very important to be mindful of the of the moisture content of other ingredients you might be adding to the mix. For example, if you are making the bases vegan and will be adding cooked root veg. to the dough. Please consider the amount of water that will be already inside the root vegetables from the cooking process when you add them to the mix. You might need to adjust and reduce the amount of milk when making the dough. If you are not sure how much milk to add, I would suggest adding the milk little, by little bringing the dough together and when you feel you have a bit of a dough, stop adding milk and start kneading. This flour blend is not like wheat flours which eventually would absorb the extra liquid.
For best results, always use a well reduced tomato sauce over the bases. This pizza base doesn’t like tomato sauce containing a lot of moisture added directly onto the dough. If you use a tomato sauce with lots of moisture, you’ll end up with the chewy/gooey base. To prevent moisture from the tomato sauce sipping into the base you could try brushing the base with a little olive oil before adding the tomato sauce to the base or perhaps use red pesto sauce on the base instead.
To give your crusts a lovely crunch, you can do a couple of things. Add a light coating of course cornmeal to the bottom of the baking tray. Brush the dough with red tomato pesto and part-bake it for about 5-10 mins. before adding the topping. But do not take your eye of the dough, otherwise you could over bake the base and end up with a biscuit.
Cow’s milk or plant base?
Milk adds softness, colour and flavour to the dough. To allow more people with gluten intolerance to use our mixes we removed the milk content from the formula. Please rest assured that this was only a very small part of the recipe and will not impact the final results at all. You can use powder milk or fresh cow’s milk or plant base milk to make the dough as directed on the packaging. However, when using plant base, I would recommend using a high protein milk. This is because this flour blend prefers high protein milk and will provide better results.
Freezing the dough
If you want to freeze the pizza dough you can. Roll the dough out, cover the unbaked dough with cling film and place in the freezer for about 2-3 hours. Bake direct from frozen when required.
Above featured picture: Thin-crust gluten free and vegan pizza base made by Isabel, using Viola grated cheese, homemade tomato sauce, Quorn pieces, cheery tomatoes, onion and fresh basil.
With all that said, please don’t despair, because the more you make this dough the more you’ll understand its behaviour and be able to create not just your perfect pizza base every time, but also other delightful dishes…