A family we know has recently decided to go gluten-free for reasons other than celiac disease. Wanting to keep them included in certain gatherings, I took it upon myself to try and see if I could make a gluten-free pizza.
My wife had been reading about gluten-free doughs and I noticed from her findings that it would be quite a challenge compared to what I am used to. So I thought, YES!
To start out, I decided to make it easy on myself by getting an established gluten-free pizza crust mix and working with it instead of buying the individual ingredients like xanthum gum, tapioca, etc. My wife noticed one store in our area (Hy-Vee) had quite an array of gluten-free products, and they had the King Arthur Gluten-free Pizza crust mix. I had her pick up 1 box and I did some thinking. In seeing her attempts at breads that were gluten-free, and based on what I had seen & read, I knew the dough would be quite different. At the least, it would be very wet compared to what I am used to using. I decided to divide the box of King Arthur crust mix into 2 portions (weighed out) and make 2 separate attempts of making a gluten-free pizza dough. That way, I could learn from 1 attempt and make some quick changes for a 2nd attempt. The recipe for the entire box mix calls for 3 eggs, 4 tablespoons of oil (vegetable or olive), 1-1/4 cups of warm water, and 1 packet of yeast (enclosed).
In my first attempt, I decided to use 1/2 the mix and add 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons of my own yeast (SAF), and 1/2 cup of water. These ingredients were combined in my KitchenAid mixer. I thought having a little less than half the egg and water would help make the dough less wet and easier to handle. I followed the instructions on the box with respect to mixing and resting the "dough". I let the "dough" sit for 1 hour (instructions say 30 minutes). If it did rise, it was not very much. The King Arthur box mix calls for literally pouring the "dough" into a pizza pan, par-baking it, then dressing it and finishing it in the oven. I can tell you that you will need a non-perforated pizza pan, because even with my somewhat lesser hydrated gluten-free dough, it still oozed too much to be considered a full solid mass. I also based the product in the oven on top of a pizza stone in a 500-degree preheated oven (the box calls for 400-425 degrees). The final product was less than stellar. I didn't even bother to take pictures.
Taking what I learned from my first attempt, a week later I made a second attempt with the remaining half of the dough mix. This time, I decided to make some alterations. I used 2 eggs (instead of 1), 1 tablespoon of olive oil (instead of 2 of vegetable oil), I used the entire packet of yeast (2.25 teaspoons, instead of 2 teaspoons), and I only prepared 1/3 cup of warm water to add to the mixture. I added the water slowly, stopping every so often to see how things were coming together and at what consistency. I used almost the 1/3 cup of water but not quite all - somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 cup. I let the dough rest for 1 hour again.
The results of the dough and my attempt at turning it into a margherita pizza (our basil had not come in yet so we used ground basil from a bottle) are shown below. The dough ended being dryer and easier to handle this time. I laid it out in a pizza pan and spread it with my hands (the box instructions say to make sure to coat the pan liberally with oil, but this pan was non-stick and the dough was much dryer than what the instructions called for, so I didn't pre-coat the pan). The consistency and appearance reminded me of a dessert pizza crust. I did not parbake the crust this time since it was dryer. Instead, I loaded it up with sauce, cheese, tomatoes and sprinkled some basil on it. I found with what gluten-free products I've samples so far that taste is an issue, as in, there is none. Therefore, with a gluten-free pizza, additional sauce, herbs, etc. are key to boosting the overall flavor profile.
This time, I also baked it on my 2-stone pizza grill instead of the home oven. The stone had lost some heat due to having just previously cooked a traditional pizza directly on it, therefore I was not worried it would adversely affect the pan.
The results of the experiment are shown below. Overall, this came out much better than my first attempt. The flavor was only slightly improved, but the texture and consistency was much better. The crust was crunchy, somewhat like a dense biscuit. It reminded me a little of a Tombstone pizza crust. I know that doesn't sound exciting, but when dealing with gluten-free dough, I consider it to be a win.