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Three Gluten Free Pizza Dough Mixes

Pizza is one of the most challenging issues for those that are gluten free. It's such a part of our culture and there's not any way to go to the pizza parlor and feel too terribly safe about even a crust that's labeled gluten free given the risk of cross contamination. We've reviewed pre-made pizza crusts and they could be best described as OK. Not great, not even good but not bad. Just OK.

Making pizza dough can be a bit daunting for some folks although it's actually pretty easy. Homemade pizza is so fantastic and worth doing. But what about gluten free pizza dough? Making your own from scratch can require some exotic ingredients that are not as widely available – tapioca flour, xantham gum, brown rice flour (although the Winn-Dixie near me stocks brown rice flour).

How about mixes? This week after a lot of testing we review three.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza CrustOur first mix was from the folks at Bob's Red Mill. The interesting thing is that the instructions allot only 20 minutes for the dough to rise. Standard wheat based pizza doughs take about 90 minutes for a rise, "punch down" and a second rise but this mix is really simple. Yeast in warm water for a "few" minutes (really, it says "a few minutes") added to the mix with some olive oil and a couple of eggs. Beat for "about a minute" (the Bob's people are really vague). Let it rise for about 20 minutes and then it calls for being pressed into a pan and baked.

We followed these instructions religiously except for the baking. Instead of the greased pan the pizza was baked on a pizza stone. The dough required using some yellow cornmeal on the cutting board to keep it from sticking. Not a lot – about a teaspoon. (OK, that's a lot of words for pizza dough but, hey, this is important. It's pizza after all.)

The verdict is surprisingly good. I was concerned when making the dough. It felt dense and not smooth and silky like pizza dough but coarse and grainy. Rolled out, baked, topped and eaten it turned out pretty darn good. The crust is firm and crispy when baked with a good texture. It is slightly grainy but only slightly. It's not chewy and dense like the dough you will find in a pizza parlor but chewy and light.

Gluten Free Pantry MixThe Gluten Free Pantry mix is actually labeled French Bread & Pizza Mix. This is the only one that has bread machine instructions and those were followed (except the baking was, once again, done on a pizza stone).

The challenge is that making this in the bread machine requires frequent stirring because the dough is so dense that the stirring blades aren't able to turn it over effectively. Once blended and allowed to proof the dough rises nicely. The challenge is that it is very sticky and difficult to shape into pizza rounds. This required damp hands because cornmeal was quickly absorbed in the dough. The dough smelled good, however. Fresh and yeasty.

It turned out pretty well. Not as good as the Bob's, however. The texture was light – more like a white flour dough than a whole wheat dough – and the flavor good. All in all, this tastes like white bread dough that's been made into pizza.

Pamela's Gluten Free Bread MixSomewhat like the Gluten Free Pantry mix, the Pamela's Gluten Free Bread Mix is an all-purpose kit and says on the package that it makes bagels, pizza and pie crusts. There are, however, different instructions for the pizza dough and they call for blending in the mixer and letting stand in the same way as the Bob's Red Mill (although not quite as vague).

The mixed and rested dough is similar in texture to the Bob's but it bakes up much differently. The pizza crust is much crispier, and while the flavor is good, it is not as yeasty as the other two.

All of these did better than one might expect, but the Bob's Red Mill is the hands down winner. The combination of simplicity of mixing, time to proof, ease of shaping into pizza rounds combined with a better texture and flavor makes this one the best choice. In addition, we tested all of the mixes by storing the dough in the freezer and refrigerator and then baking later as well as storing the baked pizza rounds in both the freezer and overnight in a ziplock bag on the kitchen counter. The Bob's held up best in every case here also.

Any of these are good pizza alternatives for those eating gluten free and all are better than the pre-baked we have put to the test. If it's available, get the Bob's Red Mill and make some pizza. Here are some topping suggestions:

Barbecue Chicken Pizza
French Onion Pizza | Low Sodium Version
Pizza with Dill Pesto and Potato
Pizza with Mushrooms and Prosciutto
Pepperoni Pizza
Pizza with Roasted Eggplant and Feta | Low Sodium Version
Pizza with Scallops and Thai Peanut Sauce
Pizza with Tomato, Basil and Roasted Garlic
Chicken and Smoked Gouda Pizza

Reviewed: March 18, 2011