We actually made this recipe for the first time a couple of weeks ago, but it was late in the day and we lacked the necessary natural light to photograph it. This recipe intrigued us, since pita bread is not easily converted to gluten free, and admittedly, we have yet to make just pita bread using this recipe. Before singling out the pita bread, we wanted to just explore this dough for the pizza itself, and if it turned out to be successful, develop it further for really good gluten free pita bread in the future. The contributing bakers on the original recipe were Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid and you can watch the Baking with Julia PBS segment here. Please do check out the contributions by all the other doriestas at TWD’s link here. Sadly, we are currently without a host for this recipe, but you can find the original recipe in Baking with Julia, page 156.
The recipe turned out to be quite straight forward and simple to prepare, even after allowing for our gluten free adaptations. You do, however, have to allow for enough time to prepare the necessary sponge. For the gluten free pita bread dough, you will need the following ingredients. Please note, we only made half a recipe, which makes approximately six small pizzas, or four medium-sized ones. The entire recipe is not only gluten free, but vegan, since with our adaptations it does not contain any meat, dairy, or eggs.
Eastern Mediterranean Pizza:
Pita Bread Dough:
- 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1-1/4 cups tepid water (80°F-90°F)
- 1-1/4 cups gluten free whole grain flour blend, consisting of: 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 brown rice flour, 1/4 sweet rice flour
- 1/2 Tbsp. Himalaya salt
- 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1-1/4 – 1-3/4 cups all purpose gluten free flour blend, consisting of: 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 sweet rice flour (if you need additional flour, add sweet rice flour by the tablespoon, as needed)
In a large bowl, prepare a sponge, by adding the yeast to the tepid water. Using a wooden spoon, stirring in one direction only, slowly add the gluten free whole grain flour blend, then stir 100 times in the same direction until fully mixed. This is not as bad as it sounds. You can sing your favorite song, or recite your favorite poem while counting. When you are done, the mixture should look smooth and silky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least one hour, or until doubled in size. Our sponge took two hours to double in size.
While the sponge is developing, you can prepare the topping ahead of time.
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (we substituted a finely chopped red onion and several finely chopped green onions)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/4 lb. finely ground lean lamb (we did not use meat in our version, but added additional tomatoes instead)
- 8 – 10 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped (or use well drained canned tomatoes)
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. Himalaya salt, to taste
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a heavy sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Then add the garlic, tomatoes and spices and cook over medium to low heat. You want to retain enough moisture. Then turn off the heat and set aside. Please note, the topping can be made several hours ahead of time.
Now continue with preparing the pita bread dough, by removing the plastic wrap from the sponge. Sprinkle the salt and drizzle the olive oil on top and again stir in the same direction. Now add the gluten free all purpose flour blend, one half cup at a time, until well incorporated. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface, gently working in the remaining flour. The original recipe calls for a heavy duty kneading session of about 8-10 minutes. Please refrain from doing that, your gluten free dough will never recover from that kind of abuse.
Depending on the number of pizzas you wish to make, oil two large baking sheets and divide the dough into either four or six pieces. Gently roll out each piece on a lightly floured (with sweet rice) work surface and place each piece immediately onto the oiled cookie sheets. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out, and allow to rise until doubled in height. In a warm kitchen, this process does not take very long, maybe 30 minutes. Divide the topping evenly amongst the pizzas and bake in a preheated 450°F oven, for about 7 – 10 minutes (our pizzas required 10 minutes).