In the past several years, gluten-free crust offerings in pizza and flatbreads were all the rage, reaching the height of demand from consumers. However, alternative flours that yield additional nutritional benefits and flavors are rapidly on the rise. OurEverydayLife notes that although pizza dough relies on gluten “to trap the yeast’s leaving gases” when rising, strong gluten is difficult to stretch. Weak gluten is easier to work with, and pizza dough in particular is “a good candidate for experimenting with alternative flours.”
Whole Wheat and White Whole Wheat Flour
White flour has been the standard in pizza dough, however OurEverydayLife says that high-fiber bran and nutrient-rich germ are extracted out of white flour when milled, mainly due to coloring and the fact that natural oils that don’t store well. Using whole wheat or white whole wheat in pizza dough brings back fiber and nutrients, along with B vitamins.
Grains that resemble “mainstream wheat” are making their way into America’s pizza kitchens, including durum. Durum wheat or flour possesses a rich, nutty flavor and is “an ancestral form of true wheat, cultivated for thousands of years,” says OurEverydayLife. More commonly known spelt, dubbed another “ancient wheat,” is great for pizza dough as well, as it works well with yeast and has both white and whole-grain versions. Finally we have kamut, which “produces much larger kernels but is similar to wheat and spelt for culinary purposes, giving crust a rich, creamy color and nutty flavor.” BakeryandSnacks.com reports that these and other alternative flours intrigue consumers, paving the way for international grains and flours to hit American restaurant menus. Flours like coconut flour, teff flour and Ethiopia-based injera are hitting the scene, along with “unusual flours” like banana and tigernut, a root vegetable originating from West Africa and Spain.
Gluten-free may not be the buzzword it has been in recent years, but it’s still a very real concern amongst pizza lovers. Statista reports that by 2020, the gluten-free food market is projected to be valued at $7.59 billion. The United States was the largest market in the category worldwide, therefore alternative flours and grains in the pizza making world are still of large importance. Bean and chickpea flour, OurEverydayLife says, are “suitable for celiacs and those with wheat allergies.” Rice, corn, millet, teff, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa are other gluten-free ingredients, however brands produced in certified gluten-free mills are ideal. Ready to add these to your pizza doughs and not necessarily flatbreads? The site suggests adding ingredients like xanthan gum or a prepared gluten-free baking mixture to best mimic to conventionally rising pizza dough.
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