Gluten-free vegans: Here’s that pizza you’ve been waiting for

When asked what my favorite food is, I often answer “Bread and butter”. I count that as A Food.  It doesn’t matter too much what sort of bread it is: straight up wheat bread and tortillas are my workaday picks, but I love naan, pitas, sourdough, french, anything. And especially when slathered with butter.

But some people can’t eat those things. Some people have celiac disease and gluten is off-limits. Or they are vegan so butter is no-go. I am somewhat suspicious of how many people claim “gluten-sensitivity” these days. But hey, so long as you don’t take away MY gluten, knock yourself out. I’d been hearing about the wild popularity of the Babycakes bakery for some time. So when Bread and Butter: Gluten-free Vegan Recipes to Fill your Bread Basket by Erin McKenna arrived at my door (thanks Penguin Random-House!), I was intrigued. Erin McKenna is the woman behind the Babycakes bakeries. Her book  is packed with recipes for vegan, gluten-free breads. AND! There is a recipe for butter. Vegan butter. I’m neither gluten-free nor vegan (just vegetarian) but I love McKenna’s enthusiasm for the taste of butter.

McKenna acknowledges that gluten-free baking is a wee bit tricky. Gluten is the magic stuff that makes wheat flour bind together whilst rising, thus creating the lovely pillowy texture of breads, bagels, biscuits…you name it. Getting breads with the proper taste and texture sans gluten is not easy. It is intimidating to look at these recipes. They require a multitude of flours. But I REALLY think you gluten-free-ers deserve bread in your lives so I sucked it up and sought them out. From arrowroot to xanthum gum, your Book Cook goes the distance. I had total success with this book’s recipes, but if you mess up, McKenna, suggests having some wine and throwing your dough against the wall. I think I am in love. Either with her–she is gorgeous– or her food. Or both.

Now for the recipe! I had heard Daiya was the best vegan cheese for melting, and lo and behold that is the cheese recommended by McKenna in her book. Then, miracle of miracles, I was given some samples. So pizza was basically my destiny. That Daiya stuff melts like a dream and tastes excellent. I don’t know that I’d say it is a deadringer for mozzarella but it actually tastes better than some of the fat-free real cheese I used to torture myself with. There are two crust recipes in this book that you can use to make any sort of pizza you like. I opted for the whole-grain pizza dough and topped it with some tomato sauce and vegan mozzarella. This pizza is fantastic. I thought vegan gluten-free cheez pizza would be a travesty, but it knocked my socks off. Stockings, actually if I’m going to be accurate. And those are even tougher to remove than socks. What I’m saying is, this pizza rocks.

Vegan Gluten-free Whole-grain Cheez Pizza adapted from Bread and Butter by Erin McKenna

  • 1 cup warm (100 degrees F) rice milk (I used a bit less cashew milk as I think it may be thinner)
  • 2 Tbsp. vegan sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 Tbsp. potato starch
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. xanthum gum
  • 1/4 cup melted unscented coconut oil (which I feared would make my pizza taste like coconut but it didn’t!)
  • pizza sauce (your favorite brand-I actually used some Whole Foods brand roasted veggie pasta sauce)
  • vegan mozzarella to your liking (I used Daiya since it melts really well)

In a small bowl combine the warm milk, sugar and yeast. Stir and set aside for ten minutes. It should “proof” which is to say it is going to bubble up so make sure your bowl has room for that. After the ten minutes is up, in a medium bowl whisk the oat flour, potato starch, arrowroot, ground flaxseed, salt and xanthum gum. Add the coconut oil and the yeast/milk mixture and use a spatula to stir until a thick dough forms. Cover with plastic and put it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Now it’s time for making the pizza! Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to about a 12-inch circle. Remove the top sheet of parchment then slide the dough, on the parchment onto either a pizza pan or cooking sheet. Top with sauce and cheese and put in the oven. It is going to take around 20-30 minutes, give or take depending on your oven and you want to rotate it about 15 minutes in. Keep an eye out so you don’t burn your toppings! Once it’s done, take it out, turn off that oven and let it sit at least five minutes before slicing into it.