Monday, April 23, 2012

My Pizza

Pizza dough is a tricky thing to replicate without gluten. I have a busy life in which I want to serve pizza once every week or two but I do not care to build a difficult recipe into my meal planning rotation. So, this is not exactly like regular pizza. It's a different animal. It is more delicate, so it can be difficult to eat with your hands and will not make a very thin crust. The texture and weight of the dough itself is totally different. There is no yeast and no rise. You can make it deep-dish or not. It makes leftovers that are good for days.

We love it.

Any recipe I am going to prepare on a regular basis must be reasonably healthy. With dough like this, you run into the complex issue of grain consumption, which is far more controversial than you may realize unless you are familiar with traditional cooking methods or paleo-style eating. Are you aware of the damages grains, especially whole grains, inflict when consumed by humans? Most grains and seeds contain a host of anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid, and other food toxins, such as lectins. The levels of these vary from species to species. If you are not interested in digging into the science behind it, just think of it as plants protecting their babies. They cannot run away or bite back as animals do, but they can develop phytotoxins that make their babies indigestible so they provide no nutrients to their predator and just pass right on through, or even chemicals that damage their hosts so that we learn not to eat them if we are smart, such as things that will damage our thyroids, impair our reproductive health, and cause minerals to leach from us.

Remember that just because a nutrient is present in a food does not mean that it is in a form that you will absorb. If you do not absorb it, it does not count!

Enter Nourishing Traditions. This cookbook by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig is the one actual paper-and-binding cookbook I use and recommend. It's full of basic information about traditional cooking, including modern versions of ways people used to prepare grains to make the nutrients more absorbable and to neutralize some of their harmful substances. Now, none of this renders grains 100% benign, but if you're going to eat them then it is important to make sure your grains are at least doing less harm than good.

One such method is using soaked flour recipes. This means that a soaking time is built into the recipe for the flours to sit for 12-24 hours or so in an acidic and, preferably, probiotic medium. This allows some enzymatic breakdown to occur, neutralizing some harmful compounds. This is not a perfect method, but as part of an overall diet that minimizes plant toxins and is rich in absorbable minerals from animal foods, I think it is an acceptable compromise.

I frequently play around with the flour types and ratios in this recipe and find it relatively forgiving. Here I try to include flour options are relatively easy to come by. I cannot guarantee that any particular substitution will work but I can wink and nod and whisper that there's a good chance it will as long as you substitute with a reasonably similar flour and do not let any one flour dominate the mixture.

Serves about 6 when made as a deep dish. It is more filling than it looks! Half a batch approximately fills a pie pan.

Yogurt Dough Pizza
Adapted from the wheat-based yogurt dough recipe in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig
Dough ingredients:
1/2 lb. butter, completely softened to room temperature
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 t. salt
1 t. guar gum or xanthan gum
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean/chickpea flour or quinoa flour
1/2 cup almond flour or coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch (this is the same as tapioca flour)
1/2 cup potato starch (this is different from potato flour)
*Note: substituting 3 1/2 cups of an all-purpose gluten free flour mix is likely to work as long as it is not a mix designed for making pastry. If the mix contains guar/xanthan gum you probably do not have to add any separately.

A few suggested toppings:
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups shredded cheese, ideally mozzarella
sautéed onions, peppers, spinach...
cooked diced bacon, cut-up sausage, or other cooked pieces of meat
herbs sprinkled in the cheese, such as thyme

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and yogurt together thoroughly.

In a separate bowl mix all dry ingredients together until uniform. Stir dry ingredients into the yogurt and butter. The resulting dough should be quite thick.

The dough soaking

Cover the bowl lightly with a towel and leave on the counter at room temperature overnight, ideally for 24 hours. This is considered "soaking".

The next day, preheat the oven to 350°F. For a deep dish pizza, press dough into a greased 8"x13"x2" pan. Otherwise, grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper and shape dough as desired.
Or on one of those awesome silicone baking mats!
Dough will be sticky; I use a spatula or wooden spoon, not my hands, for this. Keep in mind that the dough is not going to rise.

Ready for toppings
Remember to pre-cook any toppings you wouldn't eat raw

Prick dough in several places with a fork. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Spread on sauce and add toppings.

Bake about 5 minutes until toppings are heated through and cheese is melted. You can see here we had a lot of my homemade bacon in this one plus herbs and freshly ground black pepper atop the cheese.

Use garlic salt for 2 t. salt and add 1 t. dried basil, 1 t. dried oregano, 2 t. dried parsley, and 1/2 t. ground black pepper to the dough.

How do you like your pizza? Do you eat a lot of grains and seeds? Do you do anything to mitigate their unhealthy effects?

This post is part of Monday Mania, Heart and Soul, Fat Tuesday, Pennywise Platter, and Real Food Wednesday.


  1. I think you should keep this up. Good job! I love red peppers on mine. Another fave is green olives with bacon, or sliced tomatoes

    1. Thanks! Ooh, Mr. D loves olives *and* sliced tomatoes...

  2. I've tried making gluten free pizza and it is tricky. The recipe I was given was mostly almond flour, and almost nothing else. It didn't turn out well. I look forward to giving yours a try though, it looks like it will hold together better than mine did. I also love all of the information you provided, especially about plants protecting their babies. I never thought of it that way! Thanks so much for sharing with the Hearth and Soul!

    1. You are very welcome! I remember trying almond flour and, similarly, coconut flour recipes and having it completely fall apart. :-( They never tasted right to me either. You can start with more like 1 T. or so of guar or xanthan gum to see the holding-together potential of this recipe. I used to make it that way but worked down to less or even none sometimes since it's easier to get out of a deep dish and we're eating with our forks anyway. It just depends upon your preference.

  3. It seems like the almond flour recipe I tried had almost nothing in it, so I'm not surprised it fell apart. I actually have bad luck with almond flour in general, to be honest. lol

    Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I featured your recipe on my blog today at Hearth and Soul. Thanks so much for sharing. :)