April 02, 2012

Allergy-free baking-book review part one | Spicy taco pizza (GF)

When Mary Ellen from Book Publishing Company (The Farm, in Summertown, Tenn.) offered to send me a review copy of The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread, a gluten-free baking book, she caught me at exactly the right moment. (If you're not so interested in GF baking, read on for the taco pizza, which can be made with a crust of your choice.) I've been eating gluten-free for about six months, and although I didn't find the change particularly noticeable in my general diet, baking is a whole other issue. I'd had a gross brownie failure, a successful cookie/cake experience, and a barely-OK bread-baking try. I was ready for something better.

I don't bake often, and don't eat many sweets, but six months is a long time without baking something, even for me. Because my experience with gluten-free baking is so minimal, I read Laurie Sadowski's book like a novel, from cover-to-cover. I appreciated her comparisons of the many kinds of flours, starches and other ingredients, her helpful information on how to customize recipes, her lists of substitutions, and her tips and techniques not just for baking, but for storing baked goods. Not only are her recipes gluten-free and vegan, she has accommodated just about every sort of food allergy you, or the friends and family you are baking for, might have.

One of the things I like so much about the cookbook is the recipes don't seem to be as starch-heavy as many of the ones I've seen. Nor are they as dependent on large amounts of fat and sugar for their success.

By the time I was ready to hit the kitchen, I was feeling much more confident. The recipes include everything from cupcakes, biscuits, doughnuts and scones to yeasted rolls, French bread, New York bagels, English muffins and pizza dough. (No cookies, though.) It was hard picking recipes to try, and I kept changing my mind. Finally, after seeing a post on Cadry's Kitchen about taco pizza, I knew what to do. I had to make pizza dough — the Essential Pizza Crust, to be exact.

The raw dough patted into shape.
It wasn't as hard to make a good GF pizza crust as I expected it to be; Laurie's directions were so helpful. I knew exactly what to expect from the dough at each stage. I might even go so far as to say making the crust was easy. There was one big thing I didn't do according to the directions, and maybe the crust would have been even better if I'd been able to make it exactly as described. Laurie lists a heavy-duty stand mixer as  a required piece of kitchen equipment, and I don't have one in my current kitchen, so I used my food processor instead. The other small change I made was to bake the pie for its second baking rather than use the broiler. And here's a tip from me: when patting out the dough, oil your hands and use your palms to gently pat the dough into shape. My fingers stuck to the dough regardless of the amount of oil on them, but once I developed a "palming technique," it was easy to shape the crust.

The dough after the pre-bake, just before I spread the sauce.
One pizza was enough for two eaters, and the recipe makes two.  After baking and cooling, I placed the leftover pizza on a paper towel-covered plate and covered it with foil before storing it in the fridge. The next night I added more sauce, more tomatoes and a few extra chips, and baked it on my pizza stone during the last 10 minutes or so of  our roasted vegetable bake-time, or until it was hot. The crust bottom was extra crispy and the pizza tasted great. Next time I may be brave enough to use the stone for the second baking, rather than the parchment-covered baking sheet. I was afraid the crust would stick, but I don't think that will be a problem.

The partially-baked pie before going into the oven for its second baking.
I mentioned earlier that I based my pizza on this one. Cadry was trying to replicate a beloved flavor from her pre-vegan days, but I had no such constraints. I'd never tasted a taco pizza, (and maybe I didn't even know there was such a thing!), so I was free to create my own flavors. I cooked a pot of black beans, and turned them over to my husband to make Cadry's spicy black beans while I turned my attention to the crust and the other toppings. I used Bionaturae jarred tomato paste to create a sauce like my father had taught me to do with water, granulated garlic, onion flakes, oregano and salt. To give it extra taco punch, I added chipotle chile powder and a bit of yeast flakes. It was thick, spicy and tasted great. For the chips, I used ones we already had — Food  Should Taste Good  multi-grain tortilla chips, though Cadry's choice of Picco de Gallo chips from Garden of Eatin' would be the way to go if authenticity is key. I layered  on sauce, beans, chips, olives, tomatoes and onions. (Cilantro, if I'd had some, would also have been included.) My husband and I loved our first taco pizza!




(Click on the recipe to see it larger. Recipe reprinted with permission.)


Allergy-free baking-book review part 2 will be about delicious chocolate chip scones.

Thanks to Book Publishing Company for allowing me to publish the recipe. Full disclosure: The cookbook was provided free to me by Book Publishing Company. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review, or any review. I received no money nor promise of monetary gain. I am not an affiliate of this company. All opinions are my own.

26 comments:

  1. I'm not gluten free, but I do love the challenge of GF recipes for my GF readers! This crust looks great.

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    1. I was thrilled with the crust — so much better than other GF crusts I've had at restaurants. It wasn't the exact texture of a wheat crust, but very pleasing. I don't know how using a mixer would have affected the texture but I'm curious to find out.

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  2. I'm not gluten free either, but taco pizza? Nothing wrong with that!

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    1. A taco pizza should fit with your new eating plan, I think. It doesn't seem too unhealthy, except maybe for the chips, but there were so few of them. :)

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  3. This book looks great! I've never had a taco pizza either, but no time like the present to start. I missed how to make one without the crust, on a corn tortilla?

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    1. I didn't actually offer an alternative crust since the post was about the cookbook, but a corn tortilla would be perfect. Then it would be more of a tostada instead of a taco pizza. Today I had a taco salad with lettuce as the base under all the leftover toppings.

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  4. Yum this looks great! Cadry totally got me in the mood for taco pizza too! I have all the ingredients and was going to make one tonight! It's a perfect day for it.

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    1. It really was good! Maybe, if the weather holds out (hahaha) you could even enjoy your pizza al fresco.

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  5. Tat book sounds like a winner. So glad you have had success with gluten free baking!

    Courtney

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    1. So far I like the book, but I've only made two things. I'm looking forward to trying more recipes.

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  6. Great review - I love your photos :)

    Love, love, love Laurie's book!! I totally agree that she makes GF baking so much less intimidating. I felt so empowered after reading this book.

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    1. Yes, she made me think I could bake again! I'm still working up the courage to tackle rolls and bagels.

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  7. Taco pizza is so good! That's terrific that you could make a GF version. Hopefully the future recipes you try are just as good!

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    1. I've never had Mexican food on a pizza crust before, but it was really good, and we'll probably have it again. I hope you're right about the GF baking. :)

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  8. Wow, what a cool flavor combo. The sauce looks super dark.

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    1. The sauce was probably darker than usual because of the chipotle chili powder, but maybe not as dark as it looks. Lighting at night is funky, and it's hard to get the colors right.

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  9. Your pizza looks absolutely mouthwatering! I like your additions of chipotle chile powder and yeast flakes to the sauce and olives to the toppings. I'm so glad that you and your husband enjoyed your first taco pizza! Welcome to the club and thanks for the shout out! :)

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    1. Thanks for the inspiration! I added the chipotle powder and nooch to compensate for not using the "right" chips, but it really made the sauce taste great. It was kind of like eating a burrito. :) I'm sure we'll be having it again.

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  10. I do love my gluten, but this sounds delicious in its own right! I'd gladly make a dinner of such a creative pizza. :)

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    1. I could hardly stop saying "mmmmmmmmm" as I ate my way through the pizza. It never occurred to me to give up gluten before this year, but my stomach thanks me every day — no more pain!

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  11. Mmm, two of my favorite things - taco AND pizza. This sounds delicious, Andrea!

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    1. Indeed it was. We had it two nights in a row!

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  12. I don't think I ever had a taco pizza before either but it sure looks good! :-)

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    1. I don't think I ever even heard of a taco pizza, but it tasted great. I wonder what I can put on my next pizza. Mushrooms seem so passé.

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  13. Hi Andrea!

    Thank you so much for both of your reviews! I really appreciate it and the detail you gave. I hope it is okay that I have linked the reviews (and your site) on my own (www.theallergyfreecook.com).

    Thanks again! Please let me know if you check out anything else!

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    1. Thank you, Laurie, for the great recipes! I was so happy to finally make a pizza that tasted good. It's an honor to be linked on your site.

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