The smell of something baking in the oven can literally make my kids swoon with joy, and the aroma of freshly baked honey whole wheat sourdough bread or whole wheat tortillas frying up on the griddle used to be a common occurrence around here.
As we’ve cut down on grains over the years, any baking carries even more value for them because of its rarity.
We generally have homemade pizza every Sunday, and this year my kids have been in charge every other week as I’ve volunteered with the high school youth group. This is a huge benefit of the kids knowing how to cook – it allowed me to serve our community in a way I could not have done (at dinnertime!) without adding stress to our lives.
When we jumped into the Grinding Challenge to work with things like einkorn baking and freshly milled grains in my new Mockmill, the Kitchen Stewardship® crowd was definitive in their votes – they wanted to see experimentation for real, variances between whole wheat, gluten-free and einkorn versions of the same recipes, like biscuits, pizza and tortillas.
I’m stepping up to that challenge. 😉 In a big way. I started with something a little easier than the gorgeous gluten-free bread baking that we heard about in our expert interview the other day — pizza!
Rather than try different pizza dough recipes every Sunday, for example, I just jumped in and tried 5 in one weekend. I like side-by-side taste tests, what can I say?
I thought I might test the same pizza recipe and attempt to use gluten-free, whole wheat and einkorn flours. But I chickened out! I don’t know enough about baking to do that, I don’t think.
I printed pages of recipes:
- 8 gluten-free pizzas, hoping for more 100% whole grain but finding a lot of starch I wasn’t sure what to do with
- 3 whole wheat (2 in cookbooks actually – I figure it’s not all that hard or uncommon to make good whole wheat pizza, and there’s not nearly as much variation there!)
- 4 einkorn – they just aren’t as easy to come by and SO many use “all-purpose” einkorn, which is refined, not whole grain (I even printed 2 of those, wondering if I could adapt them)
I had to print them in order to make sense of it all – the variance was mind-boggling!
Don’t worry, I used repurposed paper from kids’ school worksheets. ‘Cause I’m a conservationist like that.
I first decided I wanted to figure out the ratios of flour to water to see if there was a pattern for each grain, hoping that if I could figure out “about” the correct ratio, I could adjust recipes easier from there.
I can’t guarantee that I did all the reduction of fractions correctly (or if that’s even the right term) but I found the following for flour:water ratios:
- Einkorn: <4:1, 3.5:1, >3:1, 2 1/4:1 – If you have no idea what all that means, it shows that 4 einkorn pizza dough recipes allllll had very different amounts of flour to water, ranging from 2 1/4 cup to nearly 4 cups flour per one cup water.
- Gluten-free: <3:1, 2 1/3:1, 2 1/2:1, ~2:1, 1 3/4:1, 1 1/2:1 – in this case, out of 8 different recipes, 2 actually were at 2 1/2 cups flour to 1 cup water and 2 were at 1 1/2:1, but still. The range is nearly double, from 1 1/2 cups flour to almost 3 cups flour for 1 cup water. The amount of refined grains and starches (such as white rice, tapioca or potato starch) called for also varied from none at all to well over 50%. That left me with some big decisions to make, like how firmly committed I wanted to be to 100% whole grains. See below for more…
- Whole wheat: This had the least range, only from 2 1/2:1 to 3:1 with a 2 3/4:1 there in the midst.
Good thing I had my new grain mill to make it all less expensive to play with!
- Free US shipping
- Full 6-year warranty
- Info about freshly milling grain and recipes
Click over to Mockmill, and use the code kitchenstewardship2019 at checkout for the free gifts.
Timing for Homemade Pizza Doughs
My next “what’s different?” task was to figure out how long each of the dough recipes might take to make, as I realize I only had about 2 hours before I needed to serve a suddenly early dinner. Murphy’s Law of recipe testing, I guess.
On the whole grain gluten-free pizza dough issue, the time crunch meant the 100% whole grain version didn’t make the cut on the zany day. I also chose the whole wheat recipe based on shortest called-for rise time as well, but all those recipes were pretty similar in ingredients, unlike the other 2 categories.
Ironically, my recipe was the 2 1/2:1 ratio but ended up being pretty close to 3:1 when I did it by weight and added enough to make a ball in the mixer, so I feel pretty confident that 3:1 is the correct flour: water ratio for freshly milled white whole wheat flour.
The gluten-free recipe I chose was supposed to be about 2 1/3 cups flour to 1 cup water, but it was absolute batter, so runny, I just knew it couldn’t be right. I added another 1/2 cup+ of flour, bringing it up to nearly 3:1 as well. Gluten-free pizza dough recipes have so many different blends of flour, though, that I am not surprised that there are various hydration needs. I wouldn’t want to state a “normal” ratio for gluten-free baking.
The einkorn recipe I made during the zany day was actually not 100% einkorn, as you’ll see below…
The Different Textures of Homemade Pizza Dough
Here’s where baking really takes on its own flavor compared to cooking, where a person can barely know what they’re doing and still get by.
Gluten-Free Pizza Dough
The first gluten-free dough (about 1/3 refined starch, fast rise) would rightly be called a thick batter, even after I added more flour:
The original recipe called for spreading the dough, admittedly “batter-like,” onto parchment paper, mysteriously using one’s hands coated in tapioca flour to spread it around, then moving the parchment paper onto a pre-heated pizza stone. This job takes 2 people, which is not the first problem I ran into with the recipe!
I’m all about simplifying, so I figured, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and simply spread the thick batter with a spatula directly onto 2 greased very hot baking stones.
What did I learn?
Simple is a good thing.
You thought I was going to end up with a stuck-to-the-pan mess that took an hour to clean up, didn’t you? Oh ye of little faith…
(Yeah, I lucked out.)
The other best thing ever that I figured out was that if I FLIP the crust after the initial 5-minute pre-bake time, THEN top it, it’s so crispy and amazing you’d think you were at a brick oven pizza place. I’m not kidding. In fact, when I make this gluten-free pizza dough recipe again, I’ll flip after 4 minutes and then bake 1-2 more minutes without topping so it’s a little more evenly crispy all around.
The thinner, the better for gluten-free pizza on the dough-batter schtuff, spread with abandon – but no need to turn your hands into a sticky mess. Boo-yah!
The next day, I tried two other gluten-free pizza crusts, this time 100% whole grain and nearly so. The ingredients were VERY different – one was almost 100% buckwheat flour and no yeast, the other had 5 kinds of flour and over 2 teaspoons yeast. I’m seeing a pattern though – gluten-free pizza crust recipes seem to be a strange hybrid “batter-dough” that’s a cross between watered-down grout and slightly-too-thick-to-be-pancakes.
You don’t get to roll these out and certainly won’t toss a round of dough over your head. It’s a spreading game when it comes to GF pizza, but with the right techniques, it works out.
The whole grain gluten-free crusts weren’t as tasty as the first day’s experiment, but each had its own decidedly different flavor. I’m curious what would happen if I baked them at 500F like the super-crispy version. More pizza is in our future!
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this dough, especially since I made a rather large edit to the ingredients.
The original recipe called for 1 1/3 cup whole grain einkorn flour and 1/3 cup oat bran. Oat bran? Who has that lying around? I was mystified as to what I could use to replace that. I figured it was probably rather dense and heavy, possibly absorbed a lot of liquid…but I was just shooting from the hip on that one.
I chose to use buckwheat because it strikes me as rather dense and chewy, and millet because I had just learned that it has a bit of a yeasty, beer-y flavor, and that sounded perfect for pizza dough.
Yep. Master baker at work. #guessing
What happened with this experiment? I ended up adding as much millet AND buckwheat as it called for oat bran, so ultimately doubling that amount, but I was fairly happy with the texture of the dough. Everything I read about einkorn says it’s quite a bit stickier than whole wheat, so I figured as long as I could more or less flip and knead it gently, I was doing ok. See the sticky texture?
Definitely not a “ball of dough” like you expect with pizza recipes.
The original recipe called for 5 minutes of kneading, but again, from what I know of einkorn baking, that’s going to over-work the dough and break down the gluten. I used the “folding” method from my other recipe twice, plus an hour rise time. The pic above is from before the rise time; here is what the “dough” looked like after an hour:
Luckily I’ve done some baking in the past (a lot, really, but it’s been a while!) so I knew to add more flour when the dough wasn’t forming into a ball and pulling away from the sides of the bowl. I baked using grams of flour, 120g per cup called for. Those 300 grams measured out to be almost 3 cups instead of the original recipe’s 2 1/2, so I worried a bit. (I was measuring everything anyway out of curiosity because I’m new to baking by weight and was always converting recipes from grams to cups and vice versa!)
I added the initial 2 1/2 cups, but when the dough hook on my KitchenAid mixer wasn’t making the dough into a ball, I figured I’d better add the rest, and then I added a bit more (maybe a quarter cup? This I didn’t measure…) until it really made a pretty ball, and then the KA did its job for 5 minutes while my children watched in wonder:
Like I said, it’s been a while. 😉
I poured a dollop of olive oil on the outside rather than knead it just a few times with a bit of flour and transfer to a “well-oiled bowl” like the original recipe called for. No time for that! Baking 3 kinds of pizza at once!
It looked gorgeous and it was kind of a relief that it wasn’t a sticky mess after years of not working with whole wheat very much:
This recipe, chosen for its brevity, only needed a half hour rise time, which made it ready at the same time as the einkorn batter-dough. My children were again in awe that the size had changed:
Baking the Homemade Pizza Dough – BEST Tip for Gluten-Free Pizza Crust That Isn’t Crumbly!
I’ve played around with a few gluten-free pizza dough recipes in the past, and I’ve often improved them by changing the baking instructions.
First, I would say to never bake a GF or grain-free dough with the toppings on it all at once. The good recipes always call for a pre-bake of some sort. I messed this up a little bit but the doughs were very forgiving. I think they will be better the next time with a few minutes without toppings.
But I used what I keep calling “Chicago-style” even though people are going to call me out on the carpet because it’s not actually Chicago-style pizza – but I learned the method of making the crust when it was, so the name has stuck in my head.
The trick to getting a crispy bottom crust is simple:
- Turn on a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat.
- Put some fat in and make sure it covers the surface.
- Quickly press the dough into the pan. Thin is often better, especially with whole grains. The einkorn didn’t get quite thin enough; I wish I had used two skillets, but as a deep dish crust it fared amazingly well.
- Leave the dough on the stovetop on medium for 1-2 minutes, just to begin crisping the bottom.
- Bake the bare dough. That’s the part I messed up! I topped it right away in my craziness of actually trying to feed my kids the crispy gluten-free pizza, which was already done while figuring out how to bake these from memory.
- When pretty much baked but not browned, bring them out, add toppings, and broil to melt the cheese without overcooking the crust.
Like I said, you can actually get away with topping the dough and not pre-baking, but it would be better to use the directions above. I baked everything at 500F because it seemed every pizza recipe I read that claimed to be amazing (see above, I read a LOT that weekend!) claimed that high temps were the magic sauce for success.
If I had to do it again – and I will! – I would either top the pizza right away and bake at 400-450F for a slightly longer time to give the center of the dough a bit more chance to bake without the cheese burning OR I would bake the dough bare naked (without toppings) and then broil the cheese afterward.
Pretty sure you can’t lose on any of those methods if you just pay attention to your bottom crust.
And how did these distracted experiments turn out?
Heavenly. This is the einkorn, with all its nutty goodness:
And this is the whole wheat, which kind of knocked my kids’ socks off because they so rarely get regular wheat in our house anymore!
Both very crispy bottoms:
But totally scrumptious, not “too chewy” at all. I do think either would be even better if they were thinner, so I might try using a rolling pin on the whole wheat next time (on a flexible cutting board so I can flip it over onto the hot griddle) and using 2 pans for the einkorn. It would have been easy to press the einkorn out further with my fingers; I just didn’t have space. I actually put a smidge of the einkorn dough-batter across the top of the griddle, total cheat:
This is NOT, please note, a very good recipe method for a child to make, since there’s a great deal of very hot surfaces and rushed timelines to get dough worked or toppings on. Using the skills from our online cooking class, the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse, however, kids should be able to work on any of the dough recipes I’ll share in this series.
Oh yes, I’m going to make you wait. All the recipes will be in separate posts, because each of these winning beauties deserves its own spotlight!
You’re probably not feeling a lot of sympathy right now, but if you happen to be wondering what my kitchen looked like after day one of crazy-pizza-weekend, mercy me:
I couldn’t even get the whole scope of the disaster into one frame with my nice camera and had to try a panoramic with my cell. Frightful.
You can see a bit more of the day in the highlighted “Mockmill testing” Instagram story over at my Kids Cook Real Food IG handle.
More Grain Grinding Challenge Series Posts
The Grinding Challenge Series is getting me to use my Mockmill grain mill! Here’s what we’re covering:
- Intro to the challenge and a video of setting up the Mockmill for the first time
- How to Translate Whole Wheat Recipe to Einkorn (and an interview with an einkorn farmer)
- Bio-Individuality – why it’s both the new face of health and the genesis of this whole project
- How to Translate Baking Recipes to Weights
- Why Baking with Weights is the Best for Kids
- Testing Pizza Dough with Freshly Milled Grain: Whole Wheat, Einkorn, Gluten-free (whole grain and not-whole-grain)
- Interview with a Master Gluten-free Baker
- Testing Tortillas with Freshly Milled Grain: Whole Wheat, Einkorn, Gluten-free
- Why Mill Your Own Gluten-free Grains?
- How to Make a Gluten-free Sourdough Starter
- Whole Grain, Gum-Free Gluten-free Flour Blend (& a bit on whether xanthan gum is bad for you)
- Interview with a Grain Milling Expert
- The Official Kitchen Stewardship® Mockmill Review
Recipes We’ve Worked on in the Series:
- Spelt Banana Muffins
- Einkorn Applesauce Muffins (with peanut butter variation)
- 100% Whole Grain Gluten-free Tortillas
- Whole Wheat Pizza
- Crispy Crust Gluten-Free Pizza (amazing!)
- Einkorn Pizza Dough
- 100% Whole Grain Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts (no gum!)
- How to Make a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
Don’t worry, if you don’t have a grain mill or couldn’t imagine yourself grinding grain yourself, I’ll be sure to address when any of these CAN’T be done with commercial flour. Usually recipes are very compatible!