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Friday, June 28, 2013

Pillsbury Pizza Dough

Anyone who's known me for a long time might remember the years I spent making some of the most beautiful (gluten-filled) pizzas in '08 zip code during high school and college. I can still make a nice-looking pizza, but being gluten free for 6 years now, the challenge is what crust to put it on.

Anyone who knows me also realizes that I'm not going to put a lot of effort into complicated recipes or experimenting with different ingredients to find a perfect GF blend of whatever. Give me a crust and I'll make a pizza on it, but I'm not making a crust from scratch. A mix, perhaps, but not from scratch.

So anyhow, after sabotaging any hopes of weight loss by devouring tubs of the new Pillsbury GF chocolate chip cookie dough, I decided to try the pizza dough to see if they nailed this dough as perfectly as the cookies (although I might add- I have no idea how well the cookies bake as I have only eaten the dough raw, ignoring the advice on the package against doing so).

It felt good to work with some dough again rather than to just pull a pre-made crust out of the freezer. As I rolled it out and manipulated it into the right shape, I thought I'd try hand-tossing it. This dough is not hand-tossable. It does tear easily, a good reminder that it is indeed gluten free. Having to ball up the dough to start again was a nice reminder of what you lose when you give up regular flour. Flour gives dough its elasticity, something that I have not found replicated well in any GF dough. I used to be able to stretch out a thin crust pizza dough as thin as a silk scarf for a light, crispy crust. That is not happening with this dough.

I stuck with rolling it out with a rolling pin and manipulating it with my fingers. The directions on the package say to oil your hands and your pan/foil- it wasn't too sticky on my fingers, but after cooking it, I definitely recommend generously oiling your workspace. I put down a lot of oil and it didn't get stuck to the foil, but I did have to peel the foil back. That's helpful also with any cheese that hangs off the edge of your crust too- it will glue your pizza down if you have too much.  As I said before, the crust does tear easily. If you get cracks in it as you roll it out, just pinch it back together. I actually worked the edges of my crust a lot with my fingers to get the right shape. If you screw up, don't worry- just fix it. This dough is forgiving.

The dough doesn't rise when cooking, so if you're looking for a thicker edge on your crust, roll it out to the thickness you want and then pinch up the edges a little more to make them thicker. On a traditional pizza, the edges that aren't covered in sauce will rise up more; you won't get that effect with this crust. Personally, I'd rather just have more space to lay down toppings, so I rolled it all out pretty evenly.

Make sure that you do following the directions on the package for baking- you do need to bake the dough by itself first before adding your toppings. For me, this was my chance to make my sauce.

Yeah, the person who doesn't want to make things from scratch or follow recipes DOES make her own sauce... go figure! I'd give you the recipe, but it's not exact. I use tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, garlic, and sometimes minced onions. I mix them until I get the right taste and consistency. My gluten-eating husband has never been too fond of any of the GF pizza crusts I've used, but he always loves my sauce. He's kind of snobby about pizza too, swearing by his favorite Lexy's pizza. I never used to think the sauce was such a big deal, but it really is. Remember Papa John's? I hated their pizza because their sauce was too thin and sweet. Marco's was always good, but didn't taste good the next day. Pizza Hut was always better the next day- cold or hot. A lot of this was the sauce and how it worked together with the crust.

I know you're still waiting to hear about the crust and if you should try it... I'm getting there... but first a little bit more on making a beautiful pizza:

Don't sauce all the way out to the edge. Give yourself a crust.
Evenly space out all of your toppings.
Don't overdo any single topping- even if you only use a single topping. You CAN have too much of a good thing.
Put your cheese on last and make sure it stretches over your toppings onto the crust you left around the edge. It will help to hold everything in place. I used to put cheese down first, but with GF pizzas I have found that it works best on top.
If you do load your pizza down with lots of toppings, it will take longer to bake. Don't just pull the pizza out because the timer went off. Try to wait until the cheese starts to brown a little bit. Be mindful of your crust, though- you don't want to burn it waiting for browned cheese.

So how was my crust?

It was okay. It was definitely gluten free. It wasn't crumbly. It cooked nicely. It was very dense, however. It kind of reminded me of an Udi's pizza crust, but baked at home. I like the Udi's crusts, so this isn't a bad thing, but it's not necessarily anything to brag about. Perhaps I could have rolled it out thinner. My husband didn't like it, though he did eat it. He does reject a lot of gluten free stuff, so again, this isn't a bad thing. I made a good pizza that he could appreciate- the crust just wasn't anything special to him. Will I buy it again? Yes. Will it be my only pizza crust? No. My favorite is still Against the Grain. This one is a lot cheaper though, so it definitely gets my vote there. I might not have as much time for cooking with it during the school year, but I was satisfied with the crust. I would recommend you try it.

Try the cookie dough too- and send another tub of it my way!

I look forward to hearing your experiences with this dough and things you've tried to make it even better. This was only my first attempt at using it.