I have three words for this pizza base: nom nom nom (it’s valid, it’s in the Urban Dictionary). This is by far my favourite gluten-free base. The dough makes as close to a classic thin-crust pizza base as I am ever going to get. Because of a strong intolerance to gluten, my two kids and I have to stick to a gluten-free base. But most GF bases out there are too dry and brittle or to much like a scone dough. When I want pizza, I want pizza. When I want scones, I want scones. And there is no place for a dry, brittle, bland pizza base.
This pizza dough is based on the Brazilian cheese bread Pão de Queijo. It uses tapioca starch along with milk, cheese butter and eggs. If you haven’t tried these delectable morsels of pure cheesy gold, I suggest you do. Tapioca starch comes from the cassava root, which is actually native to northern Brazil. It is naturally gluten-free and grain-free.
The texture is stretchy, chewy and extremely satisfying, ahem. It is best eaten hot and fresh but can be left for a few hours if wanting it for school lunches. It also reheats well, which is a plus.
But definitely not the base for someone who cannot tolerate dairy (sorry). However, if you can tolerate sheep milk and sheep milk cheeses, try that instead. The proteins in sheep milk can often be tolerated much better by those who can’t eat the harder-to-digest cows milk proteins.
Another plus to this dough is that it can be made in advance and then frozen. I like to roll out mini pizza bases and individually freeze them between parchment before storing them in a container. I can then pull them out and place the sauce and toppings on them immediately, without defrosting. Pizza for school lunches anyone? Or for a quick snack or early dinner? Yes please. I will have 4.
The Best Pizza Dough (Gluten Free + Grain Free)
500g tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour or manioc starch)
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp sea salt
250g firm cheese – grated (cheddar, parmesan, low-moisture mozzarella, edam or colby work well)
2-3 large free-range eggs – lightly beaten (start with 2 and add a third if it still needs more to form a workable dough)
Pizza toppings of your choice!
preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
- Place tapioca starch in a large mixing bowl and whisk it briefly to make sure there are no lumps.
- Place milk, butter and salt into a saucepan over a medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Watch it carefully as it tends to boil over suddenly.
- Once it has boiled, pour the milk mixture over the tapioca starch while stirring with fork. The mixture will be very lumpy and dry-looking and this is totally normal. Continue to stir, breaking up the lumps with the fork until the mixture cools down to warm.
- Add the grated cheese to the tapioca mixture and use your hands to incorporate the cheese well.
- Add the eggs in, one at a time, and mix them in by gently kneading the dough in the bowl until it is a soft, pliable dough that is smooth.
- Split your dough into two equal halves (or smaller pizza bases) and place each half onto a piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with tapioca. Srpinkle tapioca starch onto the dough and roll out a circular base that is about 7mm thick (or thereabouts).
- Top it with pesto or pizza sauce and cover in your desired toppings.
- Bake in the centre rack of your oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pieces of cheese in the crust are just starting to go golden and the bottom of the pizza base is starting to brown (lift it up to have a look if you are unsure).
I have tried many recipes for Pão de Queijo and I like this one the best. There are great photos provided of the dough throughout the process and of the smaller, traditional pão de queijo.