Friday, March 11, 2011

To Be or Not To Be Gluten-Free

There is a lot of buzz going on about gluten these days. According to wikipedia, only 1 in 105 people in the U.S. are affected by celiac's disease, however, it seems to be that people who aren't necessarily allergic to gluten are following a gluten free diet. Due to the large number of requests to make my pizzas gluten free, I decided to do some experimenting in attempt to make a glutenless pizza.
Gluten itself is a protein that gives dough its elasticity. As a baker, that elasticity in my pizza dough is vital to achieving a nice puffy crust, especially since I work entirely with whole grains and not refined white flour. Making my pizza dough gluten free has proven itself a challenge. Furthermore, since I grind my own flour, my entire kitchen is "contaminated" with gluten. In order for me to make pizza that would actually be "gluten-free," I would have to purchase all new equipment, and probably even find a new kitchen space.
Since it seems that most people who are following a gluten free diet may not necessarily have celiac's disease, I decided to make a crust that is "low-gluten", but not totally gluten free. This should be suitable for people who are avoiding gluten for health benefits, NOT for those who have gluten allergies.
This is a unique pizza crust in that it doesn't use yeast as a rising agent (yeast reacts with gluten in wheat, so wheat-free flour + yeast= flat hard bricks-at least in my experimenting.) Instead, this is a baking powder & butter crust made with a mixture of rye, spelt, and corn. While both rye and spelt do still contain gluten, it is significantly lower in content: rye has only about 2% gluten, corn is totally void of gluten, and spelt has a fragile gluten content, which makes it easier to digest than gluten in wheat.
Here are some good links. For those of you who are going gluten free because of the supposed health benefits, I encourage you to read up first.

This week I will be featuring the new rye crust pizza, topped German-style with sauteed onions, sauerkraut, mushrooms, and swiss cheese. This particular pizza is fabulous with any good beer, and any person of true German heritage like myself will love it!
P.S. This pizza needs a name. Got any ideas? send me an email. If I like the name you'll also get a free pizza.

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