In her latest gluten-free cookbook, Carol Fenster revisits her recipe for pizza crust, which she says she has been refining for many years. That’s lucky for those who continue to search for a gluten-free pizza that measures up to one with a wheat-dough crust.
“Pizza is one of the top foods people miss when they go gluten free,”Fenster says, noting that the pizza dough in Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking can be formed and held in your hand without crumbling.
In addition to the pizza recipe (here) Fenster, the author of 11 gluten-free cookbooks, shared her tips for getting gluten-free pizza just right.
 What is the right texture for gluten-free pizza dough?
The softer the better; the dough should be the texture of stiff frosting. If it’s as stiff as wheat dough, it won’t rise as nicely. I prefer a more “bready” pizza crust (in contrast to the cracker-type served in restaurants) so my dough starts out quite soft. In fact, it may seem impossibly soft. If you can pour the dough, however, then it’s too soft.
 What’s the best way to handle sticky pizza dough?
After many experiments, I find the easiest way to handle this dough is to pat it out on the pizza pan with my fingers, sprinkling it with brown rice flour to prevent my fingers from sticking to it. I’ve tried plastic wrap, a rolling pin, etc. and found that dusting it with rice flour works the best. Greasing the pan with shortening works better than oil or cooking spray. If you want to mix up the pizza dough ahead of time and refrigerate it (covered) for a few hours, the chilled dough is easier to handle.
 What’s the best pizza pan for gluten-free pizza?
For the best browning, use a nonstick 12-inch pizza pan and make sure it’s gray, not black (because black versions can burn the dough). These pizza pans are available in the grocery store. To avoid a soggy bottom, bake the crust on the bottom rack of your oven for the first 15 minutes , then take it out and put the toppings on and finish baking on the middle rack. Gluten-free pizza dough needs to bake at a slower temperature for a longer period of time, so I don’t use pizza stones or ultra-hot oven temperatures because I think that stifles the crust from rising.
 What if I can’t eat dairy or tomato, the two most common ingredients in pizza?
Instead of mozzarella cheese, try the mozzarella alternatives from Vegan Gourmet or Daiya and have them at room temperature when you put them on the pizza to assure that they melt nicely. If you can’t eat tomatoes, spread the pizza crust with basil pesto instead and then add your toppings. (You can easily make your own dairy-free pesto with a soy-based Parmesan). I have also spread the crust with hummus before adding toppings. Use your imagination; there’s no right or wrong way to top a pizza.
 How can I get a nice browned edge on my gluten-free pizza?
If you use cow’s milk in the pizza, it will brown nicely. But if you use non-dairy substitutes, a nice way to get a little browning (and sheen) on the pizza crust edges is to brush it with a little olive during the last 10 minutes of baking. This also gives it a pretty sheen, as well.
Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking is available on amazon.com. And you’ll find a complete review of the book in the new March/April issue of Gluten-Free Living, being mailed to subscribers now. You can subscribe here.