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  • Writer's pictureMichaela A de Guire

Pizza as a Family Tradition

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

A tradition my family has had for a very long time (and continues today) is pizza on Saturday evenings. Mmm, cheese so gooey and crust so garlicky. It’s been around for as long as I can remember.

Pizza dough resting
Pizza dough resting and awaiting to be pressed

If you are someone who eats gluten free, whether it be because you are allergic or preference, matters not. My family has been eating gluten free long before it became a social trend. One of my younger brothers actually is diagnosed with celiac disease, this occurred when he was a few months old. It was a very scary time, his kidneys were actually shutting down and we had no idea what to do. Grandma, an OB nurse, assisted us and we went right to the hospital. I was 7 years old when this happened, so I don’t really remember much else.


But, I do remember when we got home the following day mom went through the pantry, cupboards, refrigerator, and cleared out everything that was made of wheat or might have been cross contaminated. EVERYTHING. She read every label on every food item, soap item, house cleaning item, absolutely every item. Oatmeal was even removed for a time, until mom learned how to make the oatmeal for “gluten-sensitive” people, which is soaking the oats in water overnight as this breaks the gluten down so your body doesn’t have to work as hard.


So, we have officially been gluten free for 18 years, and the gluten free diet is not a diet in my opinion, because it’s not really a choice for us. It is a lifestyle. It is how God created our bodies, so we have this little cross we have to carry everywhere we go. It was hard in the beginning, asking our Catechism teachers if the candy they offered was gluten free, thanking and then apologizing for we couldn’t partake in the meal served, and the hardest part was listening to people complain about our “diet” while we sat just a few feet away, as if it was our choice to eat GF. Yeah, eating GF for my family is a lifestyle, it is a decision to pick up and carry the cross with us everywhere we go and do the hard thing, say no, and say it often, Even when we so badly just want to because we are tired of being the odd ones out.

Fresh mozzarella pizza slices
Fresh mozzarella pizza slices

Thus, a few years back, when we found an awesome cookbook that talked about baking artisan breads gluten free, we had to get it! So we did. After working in large batches and playing around with what another had discovered with different flours that are gluten free, I decided it was time to learn how to make the pizza crust with my own flair. My family's tradition is eating pizza on Saturday night, I don’t really know when it started, but I’ll tell you what, it is a tradition that I am never living without! So, with a practice session every Saturday, I worked at my pizza crust recipe. I would listen to feedback from the boys (who never knew I was just trying things), then one night one of my brothers came into the kitchen and asked, “wow, this crust is amazing, it's soft and not dry, what did you do?” In which I responded, “I ran out of potato starch and chose to substitute it with arrowroot.”


And now, my pizza crust recipe!


A note to make for future reference, when I say “all purpose flour” it is 2 cups brown rice to each 1 cup tapioca flour or starch. Thus, 2 :1 (2 brown rice : 1 tapioca flour)


Ingredients


2.5 cups all purpose flour

.5 cup potato starch

.5 cup arrowroot starch

2 Tablespoons psyllium husk

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1 Tablespoon instant yeast

¼ cup oil (either grape seed or olive)

2 eggs

1 cup water heated to 110° F



Note: It may take more water, depending on the egg size, as eggs vary in size so does the hydration for the crust, thus to make up the difference you may need to add more water, until the texture is slightly runny but not liquidly.


Directions: combine all dry ingredients in a kitchen aid bowl and mix until incorporated, approximately 30 seconds. Add eggs and oil to the bowl, begin mixing, while mixing add the water. Once all ingredients are fully incorporated and the texture is smooth, but not pulling from the sides of the bowl, mix for 1 minute on med-high.


Let rest for 20 mins. Flour your surface, using the all purpose flour, divide into 3 crusts. Using the all purpose flour sprinkle a little over the first crust, knead and press into a circle that is approximately ¼” thick. It should come out to be a 12-15” crust.


Repeat with remaining crusts.

Topping the pizza
Spread the sauce using the back of a spoon

Prepare pizzas as usual. Spoon or pour your desired amount of pizza sauce on and spread it evenly using the back of a spoon. Then, sprinkle the desired amount of freshly grated mozzarella cheese on, spreading until even. Add pepperoni, peppers, onions, tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh tarragon, olives, pineapple, Canadian bacon, or anything you want to try on your pizza. These are just a few things we have done in the past.


Grilling pizza.


During the Summer and Autumn months we grill our pizzas, so long as the weather permits. I love grilled pizza because it tastes so good. It is hard to explain, but I'll give it a try. The grill bakes or cooks the pizza at just the right temperature and time frame that it allows the crust to rise, thus producing a soft and thicker then usual GF crust. It also crisps it in all the right places, and the cheese stays gooey without turning all brown and sort of burnt on the top. Plus, the veggies are perfectly roasted. Oh! And the flavor is outstanding, if you use a pellet grill (which is what we do) you can alter the flavor by switching the type of pellets.


So how do we do it?


First of all, you want a cast iron pizza pan, no stones in the grill. Believe me we tried it, and broke a stone because the flame got too hot on one section of the stone. Light your grill and get it up to a high enough temperature that you can clean the grates. You never want to try to cook pizzas on a dirty grill, this will lead to fire on the grates directly under your pizzas. Once your grates are cleaned, place the iron on the grill. Using olive or grapeseed oil, grease the pizza iron. Close the grill cover and allow it to heat to 350 - 375°F.

grilling pizza
Grilling pizza on a cast iron

Sprinkle a bit of all purpose flour onto your pizza paddle. Then, using your pizza paddle, pick up a pizza that is ready to be cooked. Open the grill and shimmy the pizza onto the awaiting cast iron. If it does not come off easily it means there was not enough flour on your paddle. In which case you can either return to get more flour or use a steel spatula to assist in the transferring of the pizza.


As most grills have hot spots, it is best if you turn the pizza half-way through the cooking process, at approximately 7-10 minutes you’ll want to rotate the pizza. Thus, you’ll want to use your spatula, sliding the spatula under the pizza, between the pizza and cast iron, and give it a half a turn. This will ensure even cooking and a more dynamic flavor.


Once the pizza is fully cooked to the “doneness” of your liking you can use the spatula to pick up the pizza, while simultaneously sliding the pizza paddle under the pizza. Removing the pizza from the cast iron pan and placing it on the paddle, then transfer the pizza to a prepared cutting board. Slice the pizza using a pizza cutter or blade. Enjoy!


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