Bronski family publishes definitive gluten-free pizza cookbook
February 12, 2020
When South Longmont resident Peter Bronski was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007, the Italian-American author, who came from a New York family with a strong food background, didn't skip a beat.
Peter Bronski and his wife Kelli Bronski, a graduate of Cornell University's prestigious School of Hotel Administration, with more than ten years of experience in the hospitality and restaurant business, started a gluten-free cooking blog, and shortly thereafter, published their first cookbook, Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking.
The book introduced the all-purpose Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Mix, a blend of brown rice flour and other gluten-free starches and flours, plus xanthan gum for "thickness and stickiness."
Through two additional publications, Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes and Gluten-Free Family Favorites, the growing Bronski family held fast to a singular flour mix.
In the brand new No Gluten, No Problem Pizza, however, they threw out their sacred flour mix, because "no single all-purpose gluten-free flour blend could make the wide variety of pizza styles equally well" according to Peter Bronski.
The new pizza cookbook, and all their gluten-free offerings, are designed to serve what the Bronkis call "the medically gluten-free community: people who have celiac or a gluten-free allergy, or who have any other reason they have to be on a gluten-free diet."
Peter admitted that the reputation for gluten-free food being bland, not delicious, or having the texture of cardboard, is rooted in some reality.
"There's a lot of mediocre and subpar pizza out there," Peter said, "and so we wanted to change that reality for everyone who has been missing really great gluten-free pizza."
In part because of the bad reputation of gluten-free food, the Bronskis' goal in all of their cookbooks "has always been to make food that is great. Period. Full stop. No qualifications. Not food that's good, not food that's good for gluten-free. Food that's great."
The new pizza cookbook is therefore "really for anybody that either for themselves or their friends, family and loved ones, needs to serve gluten-free pizza, and wants to get something better than they've been getting," said Peter.
The Bronski family research and testing phase for No Gluten, No Problem Pizza was extensive, and, it sounds, downright delightful.
To begin, they already had over a decade of experience cooking gluten-free food together as a family that grew to five (two daughters and a son).
Next, they began testing gluten-free pizza recipes every Sunday at their South Longmont home.
Then, they "packed up the family and went to Italy." During their trip, they visited more than 20 pizzerias in the country. They took a similar "research" trip to New York.
The final step was looking at a handful of the top pizza competitions around the world to see "What is the benchmark for what is the best that's out there?"
Over the course of this work, they estimate that their family tested at least 1,000 gluten-free pizza recipes.
According to Peter, "a portion of this book was a community effort" with a long list of residents in the Left Hand Valley Courier readership area among test kitchen participants, from their childrens' friends at Niwot Elementary School to members of their gymnastics team and others.
Because the Bronskis live at altitude, "Each time we would consider a recipe perfect, it was optimized for Longmont." So, in the cookbook, "When we offer you the high altitude version of the dough, it's because that's what we actually make at home."
Peter said "To this day our family continues to make pizza every Sunday night." In true Colorado style, it "doesn't matter if we're camping in the Rocky Mountains or over in the canyons of Utah, we still make pizza in the backcountry."
Excerpted from No Gluten, No Problem Pizza: 75+ Recipes for Every Craving-from Thin Crust to Deep Dish, New York to Naples © Kelli Bronski and Peter Bronski, 2019. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com
Pear, Pecan, and Blue Cheese Pizza Recipe
Makes one 11 x 14-inch (28 x 36 cm) pizza
The salty creaminess of blue cheese, crunch from chopped pecans, sweetness from pears, and freshness from a finishing touch of baby arugula make this a winning combo.
1 prepared Roman Cracker Dough (see below)
Bench flour (see below)
Olive oil, for brushing the dough
1 ripe Bartlett pear, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
4 ounces (115 g) crumbled blue cheese (double-check gluten-free status)
¼ cup (55 g) chopped pecans
1 handful baby arugula
2 tablespoons Balsamic Glaze (see below)
1. Set your oven rack in the middle position and place your baking steel on it. Preheat the oven to 550°F (285°C) for at least 1 hour.
2. To shape the dough, place an unfloured 15-inch (38 cm) square piece of parchment paper on a flat surface.
3. Using a spatula, scrape the dough onto the center of the parchment. With floured hands, press the dough into a flattened rectangle.
4. Dust the surface of the dough and a rolling pin with bench flour. Roll into a thin 11 x 14-inch (28 x 36 cm) rectangle (about 1/8 inch/3 mm thick), adding just enough flour to prevent sticking (see below for technique tips).
5. Use a pizza wheel or sharp knife to trim away any jagged, uneven edges, leaving a smooth, finished edge with slightly rounded corners.
6. To par-bake the crust, brush the top of the dough with a thin coat of oil from edge to edge. Immediately use a lightly floured pizza peel to launch the dough-on-parchment onto the baking steel in the oven. Bake for 2 minutes.
7. Remove the dough-on-parchment from the oven and transfer to your kitchen counter. Generously dust the pizza peel with more flour, especially along the leading edge of the peel, then slide the peel between the parchment and the crust, so that just the crust is directly on the peel.
8. To finish the pizza, arrange the sliced pear on the crust, leaving a 1-inch (2.5 cm) border around the edge. Sprinkle the blue cheese and pecans over the pear.
9. Return the pizza to the baking steel in the oven and bake for 4 to 5 minutes, until the edges of the crust are starting to turn deep golden brown but not burned.
10. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a large cutting board. Top with arugula and drizzle with Balsamic Glaze. Let set for 2 minutes, then slice and serve hot.
Roman Cracker Dough
Makes one 11 x 14-inch (28 x 36 cm) pizza
Rome is home to several distinctive styles of pizza, one of which has an ultrathin, cracker-like base. This gluten-free version-uniformly flattened using a rolling pin-achieves the impossible: a crust that is both thin and crispy like a cracker yet also still chewy and flavorful. Our favorite bits are the hollow air pockets that form during the critical par-bake.
Tip: Par-baking the dough right after you've mixed the dough and pressed it out generates the most and biggest air bubble blisters. The longer the dough sits, the less dramatic the effect.
150 grams warm water (110°F/45°C)
1½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
50 grams brown rice flour
50 grams cornstarch
50 grams potato starch
12 grams millet flour
1 teaspoon ground psyllium husk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon olive oil
High-altitude modification: not required.
In a small bowl, whisk together the water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside to allow the yeast to activate, about 5 minutes, until foamy.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice flour, cornstarch, potato starch, millet flour, psyllium husk, salt, and xanthan gum.
When the yeast mixture is foamy on top, add the oil and stir to combine.
Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir vigorously with a spoon until it is smooth, there are no lumps, and it forms a stiff, thick dough.
Bench flour is additional "working" flour not included in a dough recipe. It can be used
to flour a work surface, a pizza peel, or even the dough itself, to prevent sticking. For
traditional glutenous pizzas, wheat-based semolina is often the flour of choice.
Our favorite gluten-free bench flour is a blend of white rice flour and corn flour. We'll
keep a half cup or so in a small bowl on the kitchen counter while we're making pizzas.
You can also use white rice flour, brown rice flour, or another flour that's already called for in the dough recipe.
Makes 1/3 cup (80 ml)
1 cup (240 ml) balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Heat the vinegar and maple syrup in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture has reduced by 2⁄3 and coats the back of a spoon. Use immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Rolling Out Dough with a Rolling Pin
Ultrathin pizza styles such as our Roman cracker crust and the tavern pie call for working the dough on unfloured parchment with a rolling pin, using either flour or oil.
•Dust the surface of the dough and the rolling pin with bench flour (for Roman- style pizzas), or rub down the rolling pin with some olive oil (for tavern-style pizzas).
•Using the rolling pin, roll out the dough (many of our recipes call for an 11 x 14-inch [28 x 36 cm] rectangle).
•Roll the dough gently, working it a little at a time. This helps prevent excessive sticking to the rolling pin. If the rolling pin sticks to the dough, add a little more bench flour to the rolling pin and/or the sticky spot of dough. If using oil, rub additional oil onto the rolling pin.
•Once the dough is rolled to uniform thinness and appropriate shape and size, use a pizza wheel or sharp knife to trim away any jagged, uneven edges to leave a smooth, finished edge with slightly rounded corners. (Sharp corners will overcook and burn more easily.)
The rolled-out dough should generally be very thin, about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.