Every so often, our family makes a new version of a "homemade" gluten free pizza. We've tried many brands, and to be honest, we don't have a favorite...they actually all turn out pretty well.
But to be honest, many times we go with our favorite ready-made frozen gluten free pizza (or frozen shell, which we top with our own sauce and toppings). We love Against the Grain pizzas (and plain shells) and have also enjoyed Udi's frozen pizzas when cooked on the grill.
But traveling in Italy this summer inspired us and had us looking forward to trying a new mix for gluten free crust...a mix from one of our favorite restaurants in Florence. "How is this relevant to me?" you ask. How would you get your hands on this mix without going to Italy? Well, as of a couple weeks ago, it's available on Amazon.com! (A 3-pack is priced well at $12.84.)
We purchased two boxes of the mix (which also comes with fresh-packed tomato sauce in a tin can and a packet of oregano) after dining at the restaurant...before we knew it would be available in the States via Amazon.com soon enough. So we had the pleasure of translating the instructions on the back of our boxes, which were the Italian version! We also viewed the video showing how to make the pizza at the bottom of this page on the Ciro & Sons website.
Wanting to re-create one of our favorite Italian combinations (originally made to showcase the colors of the Italian flag), my husband and I made a true Margherita pizza with fresh buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. Our Celiac son wanted to make a traditional pepperoni pizza with shredded mozzarella. (Ironically, our older son, who is not Celiac, doesn't like pizza at all -- a travesty, in my opinion!)
In addition to the Ciro & Sons pizza-making kit, you'll need water, olive oil, and whatever cheese or toppings you like. Once those are assembled, it's a pretty easy process...just add water to the mix, stir with a fork, cover your hands with olive oil, form the pizza onto a well-oiled pizza pan, top with the sauce provided (or your own, if you prefer), sprinkle a bit of oregano and a drizzle of olive oil on top, and bake. (You will add cheese and toppings 15-20 minutes later, after the crust has cooked.)
As with any homemade pizza, this was a learning process. There are a few things I'd suggest for best results:
1.) Use a relatively large round metal pizza pan (without ventilation holes). In the past I've tried putting pizza dough on one of our "pizza pans" with ventilation holes. While these are great for lending a crispness to pizza crust, that only works if the pizza crust is pre-baked like with frozen pizzas. With fresh pizza dough, it's a mess, because, as you press the dough onto the pan to form the crust, the dough gets stuck in the holes. It's best to use a metal pan with no holes, as shown in the video linked above.
2.) So having learned Lesson #1 during past pizza-making adventures, we did use a solid metal pan this time around. However, the ones we chose (the only ones we had) were too small. They were the "springform" pans that are great for cakes -- but just a bit too small for pizza. The result was a "deep dish" style pizza which was a bit soft on the bottom, not the thinner Neapolitan style we were trying to create. Even though I figured this might happen, I didn't want to run out at the last minute to buy new pizza pans for this endeavor! The bigger the pan, the thinner (and more Neapolitan-authentic) you can make the pizza.
3.) Use TWO different types of pans for the ultimate result. We figured that, when we next buy Ciro & Sons pizza (through Amazon.com this time!), we will bake the dough on a larger metal pizza pans or even a cookie sheet -- and then transfer the crust to our ventilated pizza pan to crisp up once we add the cheese and toppings. That should yield a perfect result!
What gluten free pizza mixes have you tried -- and how have the results been? All in all, it's a fun family activity, so I'm always game for trying new brands. Please share your favorites below -- as well as any advice for how to get the best results!
If you happen to be considering a trip to Italy -- where you'll be able to dine on perfect gluten free pizza in many places -- check out my just released e-book, Gluten-Free in ITALY: Your Worry-Free & Gluten-Free Travel Guide to Italy. In it, you'll find gluten free restaurant recommendations and reviews for Ciro & Sons -- and dozens of other fantastic GF-friendly restaurants throughout Rome, Florence, and Venice. We found the awareness of Celiac, the availability of gluten free options, and the quality of the food to be unparalleled. If London ranks higher on your Bucket List, I wrote a similar e-book for that city as well, also available on Amazon.com. Both books can function as day-by-day itineraries if you like, with coverage of the major tourist sites and multiple dining choices recommended near each one. They're loaded with other great advice, recommendations on accommodations, and money-saving tips.