Gluten-free Pizza, Redux
Oh my friends, I have traveled further down the path of gluten-free pizza, and what I have found there is beyond your wildest imaginings. New Cascadia Traditional, I am forever in your debt.
Truly. The crust. The crust! When I went gluten-free, I thought I was giving up pizza like this. Thin, and perfectly crispy on the outside, with a chewy bite on the inside. During baking, the crust bubbled up in several places: a thrilling surprise for me, since the airy bubbles with their layer of slightly overcooked sauce have long been my favorite part of pizza.
As it sat and cooled while we ate, the crust did not become soggy or soft. Those of you who have experimented with gluten-free pizza before will know how remarkable this is! If you are the type of person who loads your pizzas with layer upon layer of toppings, you might have different results. I don’t know, because I am more of a Neopolitan/New Haven style of pizza person. I believe that thin crust and judicious topping is the One True Way of pizza.
Every few bites, A. and I marveled at how a gluten-free crust could be so close to perfection. The texture and flavor was far better than many of the wheat pizza crusts I’ve eaten. The only telltale sign of its gluten-free status was a subtle, only mildly detectable flavor of brown rice flour – which isn’t a bad thing at all, and certainly didn’t overpower the other flavors.
A few notes on how I cooked the pizza, because I think the cooking method played a significant part in why it was so delicious. First, I used a pizza stone. If you think you’re going to be cooking pizza at home at all regularly, please acquire one. They don’t cost much, and will improve your pizza results exponentially. I positioned my pizza stone on the middle rack, with another rack above it, directly under the broiler (the importance of this will become clear momentarily).
I cooked the pizza at 450 degrees. Pizza is best cooked at high temperatures. New Cascadia’s website recommends a temperature of 400-425 degrees, but I thought it turned out perfectly this way.
I kept a close eye on the pizza as it was cooking. After about 10-12 minutes, when some of the edges of the pizza were beginning to get the tiniest hint of brown, I pulled the pizza out with my pizza peel and checked that the bottom of the crust was done to my liking. I turned on the broiler and slid the pizza back into the oven, on the top rack this time. I watched for a minute or two until the cheese was bubbling and slightly browned.
After I took the pizza out of the oven, I brushed the exposed edge of the crust with extra-virgin olive oil. Next time I might try doing this before I put it in the oven. I just like the extra flavor and mouthfeel the olive oil adds to a Neopolitan-style pizza – you could skip this step with no ill effects.
Overall, I was so thrilled with the pizza, and feel like I have my favorite food back. It also made a fast and easy meal – all I had to do was open a jar of our homemade marinara and slice up the cheese, and the pizza came together very quickly. Pizza with the New Cascadia crust will be going into the weekly rotation. I can’t wait for next week.