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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In a Word...Pizza: A Tribute to Carol Fenster, Ph.D.

First Homemade Gluten Free Pizza

 This post is dedicated to Carol Fenster, Ph.D., internationally recognized expert on gluten free cooking. Thank you Ms. Fenster, you have made my families' Friday nights delicious once more! 

Allow me to set the scene, five years ago I was happily making homemade pizza crust every Friday while listening to my son practice the piano. Fast forward two years and 208 pizzas later, my son and I are diagnosed with celiac disease. BAM, it was as if the wind had been knocked out of me.

I spent a long time in a celiac haze not knowing which way to turn. During this period of time I received 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes, by Carol Fenster, Ph.D.  It was the biggest cookbook I had ever seen. With one glance it was clear that Ms. Fenster had spent a lot of time creating this treasure trove.

Wanting desperately to begin making pizzas again on Fridays, I invested in the ingredients to make Carol's Sorghum Blend.  It was the first step to making homemade gluten free pizza crusts.

Recipe Tips: I order a case of each of the following: Bob's Red Mill brand sweet white sorghum flour, potato starch and tapioca flour and triple the recipe right away because I make and use Carol's Blend so frequently.  By purchasing in bulk, I believe the cost savings is beneficial not to mention I am less apt to run out of one of the ingredients. Personally, I prefer potato starch over corn starch for this blend.

"From 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes by Carol Fenster; Wiley, 2008; reprinted with permission from the publisher"

Carol's Sorghum Blend
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch/corn starch
1 cup tapioca flour
Whisk the ingredients together until well blended. Store, tightly covered in a cool dark , dry place. You may refrigerate or freeze the blend, but bring to room temperature before using. Makes 4 cups. You may double or triple the recipe.
Homemade Pizza Crust Recipe Tips: I have used 2% cow's milk with success. I usually skip adding seasoning and onion powder to the dough and season the par baked crust (see More Tips below for topping suggestions) While waiting for the sugar and yeast to dissolve in the milk I blend the other dry ingredients with a whisk in my Kitchenaid mixing bowl. I have also used Millet flour for dusting with tasty results. I have always doubled the recipe with much success. Why have one pizza, when you can have two!?

"From 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes by Carol Fenster; Wiley, 2008; reprinted with permission from the publisher"

Homemade Pizza Crust
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup warm 1%milk (cow's, rice, soy, potato or nut)
2/3 cup potato starch
1/2 cup  Carol's Sorghum Blend
2 teaspoons xanthum gum
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder 
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Shortening for greasing the pan, such as Spectrum Vegetable
White rice flour for dusting
1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm milk. Set aside to foam for 5 minutes. In a food processor, blend yeast mixture, potato starch, sorghum blend, xanthum gun, Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt, oil, and vinegar, until ball forms. Dough will be very soft. 
2. Generously grease a 12 inch non-stick (grat, not black) pizza pan with shortening. Do not use cooking spray-it will make it harder to shape the dough. Place dough on prepared pan. Liberally dust with white rice flour; then press dough into pan with your hands, continuing to dust dough with flour to prevent sticking as needed. The smoother the dough, the smoother the baked crust will be. Makes edges thicker to contain toppings.
3.Place rack in the bottom position of the oven for the pre-baking and another in the middle position for the secondary baking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
4. Bake pizza crust for 10 minutes on the bottom rack, until crust begins to brown on the bottom. Remove from the oven. The crust is now ready to be used as per your recipe.

More tips: Ms. Fenster recommends removing the pizza from the oven and letting it rest for 5 minutes. Also, brushing the crust with olive oil before cutting and serving. If I am making a white pizza I choose from a variety if toppings such as olive oil and minced garlic, and a combination of mozzarella and provolone. Now for a more traditional pizza, Don Pepino pizza sauce is the best. I have enjoyed Don Pepino since I was a little girl, and I appreciate it even more today since they proudly print "Gluten Free" on the label. Don't forget the pepperoni, I never do!

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