What a day - read about our adventure.
Wood fired pizza ovens have been evolving for centuries, maturing into the igloo shapes made of fire bricks that we know today. These ancient, simple, ovens have cooked outstanding bread and pizza for centuries. What is so different from a Big Green Egg or Kamado style grill? It may be odd to think
So, why use a giant paddle?
You know that tool, the one you’ve always seen the chef at your favorite local pizzeria using—what special function does that paddle serve? The technical term for that handy pizza paddle is a “peel”. People often ask
We are pizza nuts spreading the idea of backyard craft pizza on the BGE. When doing demos we are always asked about opening this world to people who want gluten free pizza. I have been focused on getting traditional pizza just right so I have not put much attention on this challenge. One of my team members is a great cook and has found that a gluten free diet is much better for her. So, I began looking around for a recipe that was as close to conventional pizza as possible. My criteria were:
- Conventional pizza cooking method - raw dough with ingredients into the oven.
- Has to taste/crunch/chew like a traditional crust
- Must be Italian style- ( a Mexican corn tortilla makes a great quesadilla, but not a pizza)
- Non gluten-free eaters should appreciate the pizza on its merits.
So this left me with very few options that I could find in recipes. Cauliflower recipes (no offense to those who love them) did not seem to be the right thing, and other combinations were different dishes entirely. I mentioned this challenge to Charlie Augello of E48th Street Market in Dunwoody, GA and he gave me a grin and handed me the solution. Caputo -The Flour of Naples, knows a little bit about pizza, so I gave it a try:
This is an interesting mix of corn starch, rice, and other things. It has the most bizarre feel in the bag. If you walked on a field of it there would be a squeak like a sandy beach. I used half of the bag or 500g of flour (17.6 oz).
I followed Caputo's online recipe, with two small exceptions; For this batch I used baker's fresh yeast instead of dried, and since I would be cooking the dough in 7 hours, I added a little honey to jump start the yeast.
I used a 3X conversion for the fresh to dry yeast, so 9 grams (.3 oz) of fresh yeast is equal to 3g of dried yeast. I added a little water to the yeast to make a kind of slurry and added it to the dry ingredients. (I measure by weight as much as possible. Try a scale, it is so much easier.)
Then, I added the typical other ingredients of pizza crust.
14g Kosher salt
1.5g of Baking soda.
1 tsp of honey
13.5 fluid oz of water
.75 fluid oz olive oil (EVOO)
I mixed the dry ingredients in the stand mixer, and then tried the dough hook. A dough hook is not useful without gluten, so I turned the dough onto a surface coated with this special flour and kneaded it by hand for a few minutes. Again it has a strange feel about it when you squish it.
I formed three dough balls, about 300 grams each, and let them rise on the counter for about an hour. I then put them into the refrigerator for about 5 hours - overnight would have been even better.
An hour before cooking, I pulled the dough balls out of the refrigerator and found that they had risen much more that expected.
They looked great. A slightly different smell than regular pizza dough. (They smelled a little like saltine crackers!) I worked with one to create the first pizza and found that it handled a bit differently. There is very little stretch to the dough. Draping the dough across your hands is not that effective because it lacks that window-pane property from gluten. So, I formed the dough into a pizza shape on the counter and then transferred it to the peel. The pizza below has red sauce, mozzarella, chicken, onion, and a little basil. The raw pizza looked great going into the Pizza-Porta.
I was a little nervous how this would cook so I checked it about every minute. I was amazed to watch the edge start to rise and get a little bit brown after 4 minutes.
When I pulled it out of the oven after about 5 minutes at 600F, it looked fantastic.
The true test would be in the eating, and sure enough it was great. The edge had bubbles and was a bit puffy. The middle was a little bit dense, but crispy. This particular pizza could have cooked just a bit more as the dough on the bottom is a little thicker than a typical pizza. Non- gluten free eaters agreed that it was a little bit more dense than regular pizza, but good, and the gluten free eater of the bunch said "This is the best pizza I have had since going gluten free years ago" - Yay, we had success!
The second pizza was a different concoction. Artichoke pesto as the base (hence the green tone), topped with shredded chicken, feta cheese and onions with a little basil.
We got this crust a little bit thinner in the center, and cooked it a little bit browner to yield this pizza.
This pizza was a winner all around. The dough had the chance to rest longer at room temperature before cooking, letting it rise a bit more. The additional cooking time and thinness got the center to cook more thoroughly and provided an even lighter, crunchy crust.
The online recipe needed a little more yeast, and I recommend a longer aging period. From this experience, I highly recommend the Caputo "Free of Gluten flour". Thank you Charlie, for a great gluten free solution!
Here is the full recipe. Enjoy - Thanks for reading. Cortlandt
Gluten Free Pizza
500g Caputo "Free of Gluten flour" (Half of the bag)
3 g dry yeast (half a pouch) - use bread-maker yeast if possible (9g of fresh yeast in this recipe)
13.5 fluid oz of water
.75 fluid oz Olive oil (EVOO)
14g Kosher salt (slightly less than a Tbsp) half this amount for table salt
1.5g of Baking soda. (1/4 tsp)
1 Tsp of honey
This will yield 3 Pizza doughs of 300g (10 oz) each
If you have not been to this Egg Fest in the GA mountains - you are missing out. Ample parking, a tree-lined thoroughfare, buildings for the vendors, real bathrooms, and Lake Hiawasee in the background. We packed the Egg in the car and put the mobile cart on the back and headed 2 hours North to the mountains.
The site was absolutely gorgeous and we did most of the setup on Friday night before the fantastic covered dish cook's dinner. Thank you to all of the cooks who brought their "A-game" to the covered dish. (If you are going to attend a covered dish dinner - make sure there are a bunch of Eggers there! Wow)
Saturday morning we started setting up for Pizza production. We had 40 dough balls on deck and plenty of ingredients to make a variety of different pizzas.
We cranked up the egg about 8:45 thinking that with a 9:00 gate opening, we would have "tasters" at about 9:30. We were wrong! People showed up at 9:02 and were excited to start tasting food.
This photo was taken at about 11:00. See the line in the background? We had great folks coming by all day long. There were many questions about how to handle dough and transfer it to the pizza stone. We tried to do as many demos as possible. I even had a challenger watching my every move to see if one would stick to the peel. I had one stick to the peel late in the day - we got a little more cornmeal on that edge and it slid right in.
My good friend Mark was a substitute pizza chef for this event. He actually volunteered for this. For those who watched and tasted, Mark had only made 4 or 5 pizzas before this event. I think you will agree he did a great job.
With the help of both of our daughters we cranked out and served pizzas. At about 12:30 it was time to add charcoal. So our first load of charcoal lasted nearly 4 hours. This is a new record for the Pizza-Porta cooling crew! We reloaded and after a 10 minute warm up we were cooking again. We realized that we had already cooked 28 pizzas! Only 12 left for an event that lasts until 3:00!
We were so busy that we didn't take very good photos of our creations. This Margarita was near the end of the day. We slowed our pace a bit and ventured out to taste some of the fantastic dishes from our Egg neighbors. Shout out to elk sausage, stuffed peppers, and some sort of pork extravaganza on a tooth pick.
We got to meet some legendary eggers and some who were taking the plunge by buying an Egg at the festival. Welcome to the family! Thank you to all the organizers. A special thank you to Crane Creek Vineyards for agreeing to share booth space. See you next year!
Thank you for reading.
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Post trip update:
While unpacking, I found the leftover charcoal from the entire day of cooking pizza.
We were planning to do an event at on offsite location. It is better to roll out dough on a granite countertop that is easy to clean and has a smooth texture. I came up with this simple, cheap, tile solution.
I visited a major floor and decor tile outlet and found this large 23" by 23" ceramic tile. As you can see it is hard to tell that it is not real marble. The marble tiles would have worked, but this tile was less than $10. I will bet that you could just lay this tile on your BGE table and it would be fine for years. I am a classic over-doer so I rough cut a $12 piece of cement backer board glued it to the back and then used a trim bit on the router to trim it flush.
This makes a perfect surface to press out your dough right next to the Big Green Egg. This size also leaves room for your tomato sauce, onions, mushrooms, and BBQ pork in containers around the edge.
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