Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Foto: San Marzano Deep Dish Pizza

We eat a lot of pizza in the Bronski household. I may have mentioned this a time or two on the blog in the past. The reasons are many. Three immediately come to mind:

1) Kelli's side of the family has a tradition of ordering pizza on Sunday nights for dinner, which we've carried over by making a gluten-free pizza in our own household. Not every Sunday night. And not always every week. But pretty darn close.

2) I love pizza, and grew up eating my share of it - New York style thin crust, Sicilian, Chicago style deep dish.

3) Marin loves it. (Charlotte does, too.)

While we have our favorite go-to pizzas, we're also always on the hunt for fun new flavor combinations of toppings, or for improved versions of old recipes. In the case of today's Friday Foto recipe, we - or should I say, I - was on a quest.

During my childhood, we'd sometimes go out for dinner to a pizza place called My Pie. They made some of the best deep dish pizza I've ever had. It started out in the Midwest, and eventually grew to some 40 locations across a good chunk of the country. Apparently, those places are all gone now, save for one or two My Pie II locations run by the original founder's son, which resemble nothing like the My Pie I went to more than 20 years ago.

The flavors of that pizza still come to me after all these years. And yet, those flavors are something I've never had in a gluten-free pizza. It was time to change that. I started doing some research. What made deep dish pizzas like the one at My Pie taste so distinctive? How could I authentically translate those secrets - whatever they were - into an awesome gluten-free pizza?

I'll spare you some of the boring particulars of my research. More importantly, let me tell you what I decided needed to be done in order to make a gluten-free version of a My Pie deep dish pizza:

1) I wanted a gluten-free dough that I could press into the pan with my hands, and which required little or no par-baking before adding the sauce, cheese and toppings.

2) I wanted heat - I'm talking 500 degrees Fahrenheit - in order to mimic the intense fire of a proper pizza oven.

3) I wanted a sauce that was fresh - never cooked, boiled, or otherwise heated - before it was added to the pizza.

4) That pizza sauce had to have San Marzano tomatoes. This requirement may seem particularly nit-picky, but it has proved crucial. I first heard about San Marzano tomatoes from my brother-in-law, Peter, who works in the supermarket business. They are grown in a specific part of Italy and imported to the United States. Despite their higher cost, he said, they flew off his store shelves. I was initially reluctant to try the SM tomatoes for two reasons - I wondered if they could really be all that different from conventional canned tomatoes, and I wasn't thrilled about the fact that they were shipped from Italy to the US, when we have perfectly good tomatoes right here. But the more I researched pizza, the more I found that all the best pizza places were using sauces made from SM tomatoes. I caved. (And boy am I glad I did, but more on that in a minute.)

Side note: The SM tomatoes are usually sold canned either whole or diced, in San Marzano tomato sauce, usually with a single, whole basil leaf tucked in there for good measure. However, Kelli has since found US-grown canned San Marzano tomatoes (sans basil leaf), for less money, and with just as much flavor. On any given day, there's a good chance you'll find half a dozen of those cans in our pantry. (We're also growing SM tomatoes in our garden...stay tuned!)

Finally 5) The pizza needed a healthy dose of dried oregano and dried basil.

And the result? It took several iterations, but we finally nailed it. I can honestly say there have been few times in my life when I've taken a bite of a food and been so instantly transported, reminded of a particular time and place. As best as I can remember, this gluten-free pizza is a mighty close approximation to the My Pie pizza I was trying to replicate from memory. This accomplishment alone was satisfying, but the taste and texture really put me over the moon. Hopefully, the recipe does the same for you:

San Marzano Deep Dish Pizza
Makes one 9x13-inch pizza

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp sugar
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp salt
2 2/3 cups + 2 tbsp Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1 14.5-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1 tbsp dried oregano
Shy 1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 500 deg F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let stand for five minutes, allowing the yeast to activate and become foamy.
3. Stir in the olive oil, xanthan gum and salt.
4. Mix in the flour to form a dough. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and roll to coat.
5. Generously olive oil the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Press the dough into the pan, and use your fingers to work up a 1/2-inch lip around the edges to contain the sauce, cheese and toppings.
6. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 30 minutes. At about 20 minutes, re-press the sides to make them just a bit taller, but resist the temptation to press the bottom. (You don't want to lose all that beautiful rise in the dough!)

At this point, the recipe diverges slightly. The deep dish pizza dough requires about 20 minutes of bake time at 500 deg F in order to fully cook. If you're using the sauce on top of the cheese, or using high-moisture mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce, follow step 7a. If you're using a lower-moisture mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce, follow step 7b. (The latter step - 7b - prevents the cheese and toppings from cooking too much before the dough is also done. Either way, and whether you do the sauce on the cheese or the cheese on the sauce, you want your dried basil and oregano added on top of the sauce itself.)

7a. Add the sauce, oregano, basil, cheese, and toppings, and bake for 20 minutes.
7b. Par-bake the naked crust for 5 minutes. Then add the sauce, oregano, basil, cheese, and toppings, and bake for 15 additional minutes.

8. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.


This recipe is: gluten-free, egg-free, peanut-free, tree-nut-free, fish-free, shellfish-free.

Note: For the San Marzano tomato sauce, either used diced tomatoes for a chunky pizza sauce, or use a handheld immersion blender (or other method) to puree diced or whole SM tomatoes to make a smooth pizza sauce. 

- Pete

P.S. In the interest of bloggerly love, we've also posted this recipe over at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free's Slightly Indulgent Tuesday post.


glutenfreeforgood said...

I'm glad you and Kelli go through all this searching and testing to figure out the best pizza crust and sauce for the rest of us. Sounds like quite a quest you've been on. I'm thrilled to be the beneficiary! Those SM tomatoes sound pretty special. You're not nit-picky if they're that good. I'd call you discerning and your cookbook proves you're on the right track with food. I can't wait to give these tomatoes a try.
I think it's going to be a pizza weekend! Have a nice holiday!

Sharon said...

This pizza looks awesome. Pizza is definitely what I miss most being gluten free. Every gluten free pizza I have tasted tastes like gluten free pizza. Not bad necessarily but not like real pizza either. I'm looking forward to giving this a try! Thanks. Oh, btw, your brother in law is the best supermarket manager ever! He has been so helpful to me since my celiac diagnosis in 2009! He introduced me to your blog as well, which I enjoy tremendously.

Claudette said...

I loved your original deep-dish from the cookbook... look forward to this one. But I've never heard of SM tomatoes. Are they a specialty item? Is there someplace I should be able to find them?

leigh said...

your flour blend has 1tsp. xantham gum, but for the pizza dough we need to add 2 more ? just checking before I try your dough. looks great ! thanks.

peterbronski said...

Hi Melissa... Thanks for stopping by! If I hadn't eaten the SM tomatoes myself, I might never have believed it. They're a fundamental part of the flavor profile I was chasing. I'm a total convert. =)

Hi Sharon... Enjoy the pizza recipe! Yes, Peter is great! Glad to hear he's been helpful for you after your diagnosis.

Hi Claudette... If you loved the original deep dish pizza from our cookbook, I suspect you'll love this one as well! The SM tomatoes are a bit of a specialty item, but we find that most supermarkets carry them, even if in only small quantities. Look for them on the margins of the canned tomato section.

Hi Leigh... You're correct. Our flour blend includes a small baseline level of xanthan gum (1 tsp per 3 cups flour). The 2 tsp called for in the recipe is supplemental additional xanthan gum. Happy pizza pie baking!

Cheers, Pete

Theresa said...

YUM! I had a pizza disaster last night, so today I'm seeing pizza everywhere!
Your pizza looks SO amazing, I've now got a good excuse to make pizza again soon! :)

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Pete, like everyone else, I'm happy to be the benefactor of your and Kelli's dedication to creating the best pizza recipe. ;-) This pizza does look fabulous! I'm not one who usually wants to deal with yeast recipes, but your recipe doesn't look hard at all. I've heard of the SM tomatoes, but not sure if I've ever eaten any. I'd probably remember if I had, right? Will be on the lookout and will make this pizza soon--can't wait!

Shirley said...

Wow, this looks absolutely fabulous!!! I think I will have to try this recipe. I have been searching for the perfect GF pizza crust for 15 years and this looks like it could come awfully close!

As for the San Marzano tomatoes, they are the best. I grow them every year, they're an heirloom variety. Worth finding. And some of the best paste tomatoes around for home canning. Glad you've discovered them!

Melissa Davlin said...

Oh heck yes. I was going to try the deep dish pizza from your book this weekend, but I might try this instead. Or I might make both and see which I like better. Can't wait!

Cathy said...

I am going to make this for my daughter's birthday this weekend! Is the sauce just pureed SM tomatoes? Nothing else? Thanks!

peterbronski said...

Hi Theresa... We're coming up with reasons all the time to make yet another pizza! Enjoy!

Hi Shirley... Thanks for stopping by! I hadn't heard of SM tomatoes either before my brother in law introduced me to them. Now SM tomatoes and I are best friends! =)

Hi BeyondRiceandTofu... I hope this pizza takes you a big step in the right direction in your 15-year quest for great GF pizza! That's great that you grow your own SM tomatoes. I'm hopeful for ours in the garden this year, though they're growing the slowest of our tomato varieties. Do you find this as well?

Hi Melissa... Oh boy. Our cookbook deep dish, or this SM deep dish. I'd say go with this one, mostly because I'm on a huge SM pizza kick right now... =)

Hi Cathy... You've got it! The sauce is just pureed SM canned tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil and oregano. Add cheese and toppings, and you're good to go! (Do keep in mind that the recipe calls for canned SM tomatoes. I've never tried to make the dish with fresh SM tomatoes...)

Cheers, Pete

Amanda on Maui said...

Interestingly I think the dough for this pizza is rising better than the bread recipe! LOL Maybe it's the sugar as the yeast has plenty to feast on.

I found the can of SM tomatoes with the basil leaf in them. The yellow can. It was a bigger can than I needed though, so I'll save half of the sauce for making tomato soup or something else with. As soon as I pureed the whole tomatoes I could tell they'd make a delicious tomato soup.

peterbronski said...

Hi Amanda... Glad you're getting a good rise out of the pizza dough! (I took some pictures of the sandwich bread I need to send you, by the way.) Yes, the Italian imported tomatoes come in a larger can. We did the same thing - save half for later. Good stuff!

Cheers, Pete

Melissa Davlin said...

Wow, this dough rises so well! I couldn't find the San Marzano tomatoes anywhere in town, but I went ahead with the rest of the recipe and used my favorite pizza sauce. I used a low moisture mozzarella and followed step 7b, but the cheese still burned. No matter -- next time I'll parbake for 10 minutes and add the cheese and toppings in the last 10 minutes. The crust was great. Next time I go to the big city, I'll stock up on the SM tomatoes. Thanks, Pete!

Amanda on Maui said...

The pizza went over very well! Next time I may bake it for about 5 more minutes just to get the bottom crust a little more done. However, it was perfectly fine eaten with a fork. I loved how the top actually looked like a pan pizza you'd get at a chain with all of the dark spots and the bubbling action. Those tomatoes are awesome! I'm going to have to find some seeds for them.

Chris said...

This looks heavenly! I wish I could make it but I can't figure out where to find the recipe for your flour blend... is it in your cookbook?

peterbronski said...

Hi Melissa... I find the bake time can vary depending on so many factors. I recently made one pizza that par baked for 5 min and then with toppings for 12, for 17 minutes total bake time. Last night we made a pizza that baked for 19-20 minutes straight up, with no par bake. It all depends. But anything over 15 min total is good for the dough... Glad you enjoyed it!

Hi Amanda... Sounds good! Yeah, the SM tomatoes are awesome. We have some growing in our garden. I'm hopeful they'll do well!

Hi Chris... Yes, the flour recipe is in both of our cookbooks. It's also here on the blog. I meant to link to it. Sorry about that. I've updated the blog post so that it links over to the flour blend recipe. Enjoy!

Cheers, Pete

Zima said...

I have type 1 diabetes and just added going gluten free to my challenges. I have to count every carb to calculate how much insulin I need every time I eat. Your recipes are great. One thing you could add to help those in my shoes is carb counts on your recipes. Nutritional information is really useful for so many of us.

peterbronski said...

Hi Zima... Thanks for your note. We'll definitely consider adding such nutritional info to future recipes. Up until now, we haven't included such info for two primary reasons - it's not our "style," and limitations on our time. It's difficult to be all things to all readers, who request GF, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, diabetic, etc. types of info for our recipes. But I absolutely understand where you're coming from, and we'll strive to take your considerations into account as we develop and post new recipes here on No Gluten, No Problem.

Cheers, Pete

michele said...

I admit I am ambivalent about this pizza recipe -- if it is half as good as it looks, I will be forced to make it weekly! I do want to clarify a point about why the San Marzano is so prized; although the type SM is certainly delicious and superior to your average supermarket Roma, the real distinction of the canned San Marzano from San Marzano, Italy is the soil, not the seed.Think terroir -- a pinot grape grown in Idaho will not taste as good as the same grape grown in Napa, either...

peterbronski said...

Hi Michele... Thanks for your comment! Normally I'd absolutely agree with you. The soil (terroir, as you rightly note) is just as important as the seed in the flavor profile of Italian San Marzano tomatoes. But I was surprised by how remarkably similar the US-grown San Marzanos I've had taste. The flavor profile nearly, if not exactly, identical...leading me - in this case at least - to believe that the seed supersedes the soil in determining the flavor of SM tomatoes. Regardless, they're delicious!

Cheers, Pete said...

Hey Pete -
You asked me a while back about how my SM tomatoes grew. They are a determinate variety (vs indeterminate) so they probably growing differently (more compact/smaller) compared to your other varieties.

Determinate means that they will set fruit and ripen generally all at once whereas your other tomato types (indeterminate) will set fruit throughout the season. Paste/plum tomatoes like SM's are usually determinate so that you get a whole slew of tomatoes all at once and then you can process and can them. That's the thinking anyway.

Mine are doing well so far, now that I have protected them from the birds with netting! (Grrr.) How are yours growing? (I enjoyed your recent gardening post!)


peterbronski said...

Hi Renee... Thanks for sharing that info about your SM tomatoes! I know that some of our tomatoes are indeterminate. I don't recall whether the SM variety is or not. After a slow start, they're growing like gangbusters with many buds and flowers on the plants. Of the three varieties we're growing - roma, SM, and beefsteak - the SM tomatoes are by far doing the best! Keeping our fingers crossed for real tomatoes on the plants, and for a good harvest in the coming weeks/months. =)

Cheers, Pete

Cocoanut said...

This is the first gluten free pizza I've made and it was really top class. I was wondering if it is practical to make the dough ahead of time? I'd love to be able to prepare everything earlier in the day so that all I need to do at dinner time is assemble. Have you ever tried it?

peterbronski said...

Hi Cocoanut... Your best bet would be to par-bake the crust earlier in the day, then finish the pizza(s) later in the evening when you're ready to eat. Because the dough has a vigorous rise, I don't think you'd want to prep it early in the day and let it sit in the fridge without forming it into the pan and at least "setting" the crust with a par-bake.

Cheers, Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi, when you say "Mixin the flour to form a dough. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and roll to coat", what exactly do you mean? Do you use a mixer and, if so, for how long and on what setting? Is there a risk of over-mixing?

peterbronski said...

Hi Anonymous... If one of our recipes ever requires a stand mixer, the recipe will specifically call for one. Otherwise, mix as you'd like. In practice, we always mix the pizza dough by hand. Mix in the flour to form a dough. Drizzle the dough ball, or the sides of the mixing bowl, or both, with a bit of olive oil. Then roll the dough ball around to coat it with olive oil on all sides. Bada bing, bada boom, you're ready to form your crust.

Cheers, Pete

Anonymous said...

I am new to the gluten free diet (about 3 months or so), but since then I have been on the search for good recipes and good pizza. I tried your recipe the other night and it was a flop. The tomato sauce and toppings were awesome, but the pizza crust was aweful. It didn't bake through. I made the recipe to the T, but it didn't bake through. Do you have any suggestions? I'm wondering if I should have par-baked longer than 5 minutes? Could I make this dough on a pizza stone and spread it out thinner for it to come out? I've tried so many pizza recipes, but the dough just doesn't come out right. I miss good pizza.

peterbronski said...

Hi Anonymous... If you're baking the pizza for at least 20 minutes of total oven time, there's no reason it shouldn't bake all the way through. Is your oven actually reaching 500 degrees? If you don't already have one, consider getting a small oven thermometer to place on the middle rack of the oven and make sure it's reaching the proper temperature. You can also par bake the crust for 10-12 minutes before adding the sauce and cheese. And yes, you can use the same dough to make a thin crust pizza. We typically par bake the crust on a pizza pan, then add toppings and finish the pizza directly on a pizza stone. Enjoy!

Cheers, Pete

Anonymous said...

Is it essential that I use Artisan GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR BLEND or can I use another brand gluten free flour blend? Thanks, this sounds delish!

kellibronski said...

We create all of our recipes using our flour blend, however, you can certainly use another blend and see how it turns out!

Happy cooking!

Anonymous said...

I just had to comment, because I made this recipe last week and it was AMAZING! We devoured almost every slice. Hubby cannot have gluten and pizza was one thing he was missing most. This was unbelievably good, and I can't thank you enough for a gluten free pizza that actually tastes great!