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Wednesday, April 18, 2007 12:01 pm

Gluten-free pizza for all!

Give your intestines a break, for goshsakes!

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Untitled Document Imagine waking up one day to learn that your small intestine can’t take it anymore; that wheat, barley, and rye are the enemy; and that you’ve got to go cold turkey on the stuff if you want to stay alive. Specifically, it’s the gluten causing the gastrointestinal uproar, the very same protein network that gives baked goods their magic elasticity. The tricky part about celiac disease, the genetic autoimmune disorder that affects at least one in 133 Americans, is that gluten is everywhere. Not only is it found in the obvious pantry staples such as bread, pasta, and cereal, but it also lurks in such processed foods as preservatives and thickeners, in beer, and, even stranger, in some cosmetics and toiletries, such as toothpaste, deodorant, and lipstick. “Gluten-free” is a hot topic in the culinary world not just because it’s a new twist on old kitchen tricks but also because    scientists are better able to diagnose celiac disease, and the gluten-intolerant population is growing. The good news is that gluten-intolerant cooks are embracing their limitations as an opportunity, making recipe adaptations and sharing lessons learned, in cookbooks as well as in the blogosphere. From the literature I’ve read, the one consistently missed dish among the gluten-intolerant is pizza. I recently found a recipe, developed by a Minnesota couple, who eventually launched an online retail store selling gluten-free products. If you’re a wheat-flour-pizza maker, like myself, forget everything you know about making pizza the old way and just roll with the new regimen. There’s no kneading of dough, which is a little strange, and the dough is not the color you once knew, but it’s all good. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the dough’s light texture and respectable crumb. As a stand-in, this pizza wouldn’t just save someone’s life; it would offer a new reason to live. P.S. If the idea of buying many different kinds of flours seems too much work, try Pamela’s Wheat-Free Bread Mix, a reliable brand found at Whole Foods and smaller specialty grocers.
Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.
Gluten-Free Pizza Dough

3/4 cup brown or white rice flour (brown rice    flour yields a more golden-colored crust) 1/3 cup potato starch 1 teaspoon sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons guar gum or xanthan gum One envelope active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves 3/4 cup warm water 1 teaspoon cider vinegar 1 tablespoon oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the rice flour, potato starch, sugar, guar gum, yeast, sea salt, and oregano. In another, larger bowl, combine water, vinegar, and oil. Slowly add the dry ingredients. With an electric mixer, beat at medium speed until ingredients are well combined, about 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky and redolent of vinegar. Lightly grease a pizza pan or baking sheet with olive oil and a sprinkling of cornmeal to help minimize sticking. Shape the dough onto the pizza pan or baking sheet. Oil your fingertips or a rubber spatula to help spread the dough into the desired shape. Allow the dough to rest (and rise slightly) for about 20 minutes. With your hands, fold over the edges of the dough to create a raised crust. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. The crust edges will harden slightly and gradually begin to darken. Remove the tray from the oven and apply sauce and toppings. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Instead of being baked, the pizza can be grilled atop a pizza stone. Grill the crust alone on medium heat, then put it on a work surface with the grilled side up and assemble the pizza, then grill on low heat for seven minutes.
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