When is a gluten-free pizza not a gluten-free pizza? When it comes from Domino’s, it seems. (This is in the US. As far as I’m aware, Domino’s UK don’t offer one but I am prepared to stand corrected). The furore over their purveying a gluten-free pizza which is prepared and cooked cheek-by-jowl with their other glutenicious offerings and which, therefore, is as gluten-free as the Pillsbury Doughboy, has lit up the Twittersphere like Piccadilly Circus. On steroids.

I would like to think that Domino’s somewhat misguided effort springs from an awakening, if poorly researched, desire to cater for a hitherto untapped market, i.e. coeliacs and the gluten-sensitive. Sadly, however, I believe that it’s another example of a multi-million dollar company cynically catering for a repeatedly tapped market, i.e. the hard-of-thinking bandwagon-jumpers who believe (this week at least) that gluten-free is the ‘hot new diet’. So they’ll blithely stuff their faces with pepperoni and mozzarella, dripping with grease, safe in the ‘knowledge’ that they’re shedding pounds. And it won’t matter one iota that this ‘gluten-free’ pizza is anything but. The tills will be ringing and it won’t actually make these idiots ill. It’s us who’ll suffer, the coeliacs and the gluten-sensitive, but, in the world of big business, we are, I’m afraid, just ‘collateral damage’… Anyway, mini-rant over…

There are any number of reputable restaurants in the UK now offering gluten-free pizzas but, if you’re not in the mood for eating out, why not try one of my ‘Easter Riviera’ pizzas at home? Easter Riviera pies are traditional in the south of France and consist of spinach, artichokes and hard-boiled eggs. When I came across the recipe in Good Food magazine, I immediately knew that it would make a good pizza and that Easter was too long to wait to try it. And I was right.

Gluten-free ‘Easter Riviera’ pizza

This recipe uses the base of a loose-bottomed cake tin (one with a rim) to aid the rolling out process but it really isn’t necessary if you don’t have one. (One of) the problems with gluten-free dough is that it is very difficult to shape and you often end up with raggedy edges when you’re rolling out. I just fancied having a pizza that was purty and circular for a change, rather than ‘rustic’! It does, however, also help when sizing it to fit in the frying pan. The dough has rather a long rising time for, what seems like, relatively little reward. I dare say that the rising time can be speeded up in a warm place like the airing cupboard if time is of the essence. I made these well ahead of time, so I was more than happy for them to just sit there and do their own thing. I do advise leaving them to rise though. They don’t look like they’ve done a lot but if you press them lightly with your finger, you’ll feel that they have puffed up and the finished article does have a lovely light and crispy texture. I’ve also included the ingredients for my easy-peasy tomato sauce but, of course, feel free to sub your own! Don’t overcook the egg – you want the yolk to still be liquid so that when you burst it, it covers the pizza in all its creamy yumminess.

Makes 3 23cm pizzas

250g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
25g cornflour (cornstarch)
25 potato flour/starch*
1 scant tsp fast-action dried yeast
1 heaped tsp caster sugar
1 scant tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 scant tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp salt
100ml milk
100g Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten

300g frozen spinach, defrosted (6 briquettes)**
1-2 tbsp olive spread or butter
1 plump clove garlic, crushed
125ml tomato passata
1 heaped tbsp sundried tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
¼ tsp garlic granules
150g grated mozzarella***
6 tinned artichoke hearts, quartered
3 eggs
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

You will also need the base of a 23cm diameter loose-bottomed cake tin, a large frying pan (skillet), at least 23cm in diameter, and 3 baking (cookie) sheets

Sift the flours, yeast, caster sugar, baking powder and xanthan gum into a large bowl. Add the salt and stir with a balloon whisk to break up any lumps. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the beaten egg. In a small microwaveable bowl, lightly beat the milk and yoghurt together and warm in the microwave for about 40 seconds on ‘high’. Add the oil, beat and again and add to the flour and egg. Make your hand into the shape of a claw and gradually incorporate the flour into the liquid by making circular movements with your hand. As the mixture comes together as a sticky dough, start to knead. If it is a bit dry, add a little water, i.e. a tablespoon. As soon as the dough has come together, tip it out onto the work surface and knead for a couple of minutes. Divide the dough into three balls (they should weigh approximately 180g each).

Lightly brush the three baking sheets and the cake tin base (rim uppermost) with olive oil. Place one of the balls of dough in the middle of the base and flatten slightly with your hand. Dust the top of the dough with flour and then, using a rolling pin, roll it out so that it fills the base. You might need to coax the dough the last few millimetres to the edge with your fingers. (If you’re not using a cake tin base, just roll out the dough into a rough round, 2-3mm thick). Now either slide or carefully flip the base onto one of the oiled baking sheets****.  Repeat with the other two balls of dough. Cover the trays of dough with a tea towel and allow to rise for 3 hours at room temperature.

Meanwhile, get the topping ready. Squeeze as much of the water out of the defrosted spinach as you can and chop it finely. Heat up the olive spread or butter in a small frying pan (skillet). When it has melted, add the spinach and the crushed garlic and cook gently for 3 or 4 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the spinach mixture to cool.

In a bowl, mix together the tomato passata, sundried tomato paste, dried basil and garlic granules. Set aside.

At the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 190°C (my oven is fan-assisted). Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat. When hot, slide or reverse flip (as above) one of the bases into the hot oil. Spoon a third of the tomato mixture onto the top of the base and spread to within about a centimetre of the edge. Cook for several minutes until the base is golden brown and slightly blistered. Slide the base back onto the baking sheet. Repeat with the other two bases.

Scatter a third of the mozzarella over the tomato sauce on each pizza. Then, scatter a third of the garlicky spinach, leaving the centre clear. Arrange a third of the quartered artichoke hearts around the edge each pizza and finally break an egg into the centre.

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the egg white is just losing its translucency and is still slightly wobbly.

 

* I find the whole potato flour/potato starch thing confusing. I’ve read lots of American recipes that state that potato starch and potato flour are not the same thing. I’m wondering if, in the UK at least, they are. For the purposes of clarity, I use the Community Foods brand which is readily available at Tesco which says ‘Potato Flour (Potato Starch)‘ on the front of the packet and ‘Potato Starch’ on the back.

** I’m not sure what this equates to in fresh spinach – I tend to use frozen because I never need a whole bag and end up with a slimy green mess in the bottom of my fridge.

*** Pre-grated mozzarella tends to be coated with an anti-caking agent which may, or may not, be gluten-free. I use Tesco’s own brand which uses potato starch.

****I found a delicate flipping technique worked, where I inverted the base over my spread hand and allowed the dough to slide off onto it before flipping it back onto the baking sheet.

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