Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh, Bob... I had such high hopes for us...

Yesterday marked my first attempt at using a gluten-free mix for my pizza dough.  As I mentioned in my last post, calzones are a tradition in my husband's family.  My father-in-law is a wizard... those beautiful creations are tailored to each member of the family and stuffed with ricotta, cheese, meat, and usually two kinds of olives.  They make me happy.  As does the two bottles of red wine we typically kill in the process of eating them.

So, I wanted to participate without giving in to gluten.  I was instructed to test out mixes and recipes before our trip to Spokane in December.  Naturally, I put it off.  When dieting, it's not the best idea to go on a pizza quest.  There's a free tip from your health and fitness expert, Kara.

Yesterday at Whole Foods I was armed with the pizza crust recipe from a certain Gluten Free Goddess.  Her picture of her pizza looked so tasty, I knew it would be the one to make my calzone dreams come true.  The first thing I needed was some xanthan gum.  Then a bit of sorghum flour, millet flour, and tapioca starch. No problem, this is Whole Foods, right?  WRONG. My shock at seeing the lack of sorghum flour AND millet flour was surpassed tenfold by the following...

Xanthan gum was 15 dollars per package!

What the hell is xanthan anyway?  Now, I know you only bake with a tablespoon or so at times, but this was still shocking to me.  Add that to the cost of all of the other flours and you've got yourself a thirty dollar pizza- at least!

So, I went for a mix instead.  I contemplated the Namaste brand after seeing positive reviews (I love technology and I love my smart phone), but frowned at the higher price.  Bob's Red Mill seemed like a close second and for only five bucks I was willing to give it a shot.
Just add egg, oil and water?  No problem.  Smooth onto a greased cookie sheet?  Bigger problem.

Pizza making really destroys the kitchen.  All the chopping, shredding of cheeses, sauteeing of mushrooms and zucchini to tender deliciousness... then add in a dishwasher hubby with a headcold and your tiny apartment kitchen is a disaster.  I considered calling FEMA.  But, I tredged on- using the only surface I could to set the cookie sheets on... the oven.  So, gluten is the wonderful protein that makes bread products all elastic and chewy and crusty all at the same time.  Spreading gluten-free dough is like working with a sticky biscuit batter.  I'm pretty sure there is no way to get it to a uniform thickness.  From reading online blogs, I expected this to be difficult.  I didn't expect the heat from the pre-heated oven to begin cooking the bottom of my crust.  


So, I sweated, I swore, and I busted out a pizza...

Chicken breast, spinach, sundried tomatoes, feta, mushrooms, zucchini, and mozzarella.

And it wasn't too shabby!  The edges weren't great... and it certainly wasn't real pizza (I'm a snob), but it was much better than a certain polenta abomination that graced my table when I first went gluten-free.  My husband swears that he liked it and- since he is sick and generally whiny/truthful in those instances- I'm going to believe him.

Then, there was the calzone.  Since gluten-free pizza dough is not, in fact, a dough... it was a bit difficult to form into shape and then fold over.  The results were less than pretty:

The calzone was okay- but I think that the dough really needed the pre-cooking step before adding toppings.  Compared to the pizza, the calzone was a bit more gummy in areas and dry in others.  No bueno.  My filling, however was tasty.  Whenever you have the opportunity to combine sundried tomatoes, cream cheese, and feta I think you should take it.  You won't be disappointed.

So, Bob, I don't think you and I are going to have a long-term pizza relationship.  In a pinch, you would do if I feel the need for a homemade slice, but I'm not giving up on prepacked mixes yet.  And eventually I'll just rip the bandaid off and stock my gluten-free pantry with all the fancy flours (and gums?) required.  But, for this Christmas I'll enjoy the treat of a gluten-y calzone.  If you can't treat yourself during the holidays, when can you?

What's your biggest splurge item in terms of kitchen food?  Personally, I was hoping mine would be some nice truffle oil...

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  1. I've heard good things about Better Batter Gluten Free Flour. I haven't tried it myself, but I understand it does not require the addition of xanthan gum when you make pizza dough.

  2. Santa has heard your request and perhaps there will be Truffle Oil in your Christmas Stocking?