The perfect gluten free pizza crust, stuffed full of spinach, pepperoni and, of course, plenty of cheese. This pizza dough handles so beautifully and tastes so authentic, you won’t believe it’s gluten free!
One of the most common questions I get asked about Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread is which bread recipe I use the most. Although I love all my recipes, or I wouldn’t dare publish them anywhere, the recipe that I use the most, hands down, is the recipe for Thick-Crust Gluten Free Pizza Dough from page 187). I make it every single week at least once. In fact, I usually make 1 1/2 times the recipe so that I can stretch it out over 2 days. When I think I have nothing for dinner, and we’re totally in a rush, I always have some pizza dough in the refrigerator. And dinner … is served. I usually just roll the pizza into rounds, scatter some sauce and cheese, and serve it with a big salad. But lately, I’ve been stuffing and braiding that gluten free pizza dough. And it’s been pret-ty exciting.
The first few times I made this braided and stuffed pizza, I made it with ground beef, broccoli and cheese (always lots and lots of cheese). And I made it into individual braids, one for each family member. I’ll be honest, though. Even though there was no complaining from the peanut gallery (hello! pizza doesn’t get complaints), I wasn’t thrilled with how dough-y the small braids had to be. I much prefer the single braid. The balance of dough to cheese to other fillings is much easier to strike.
In case you’ve never seen it, above is my Charlie Chaplin impression of silently shaping the pizza dough from the book. Oh, and you can absolutely still use the gluten free pizza dough from the blog; it just won’t be as easy to handle, but there are plenty of shaping instructions in that blog recipe so you’ll be fine. Now for the comprehensive step-by-step shaping instructions…
That’s my husband, Brian. The hand model. He was extremely proud of how he did, and you’ll be happy to know that he received very, very little instruction. And he still totally nailed it! Don’t you think?!
Please know that this really is the easiest thing to pull together. Its ease just doesn’t translate that well into words. It’s much more intuitive in pictures, and unfortunately a bit wordy, well, in words. So stare at the lovely hand model in the pictures for a bit before you read through the recipe. And don’t skimp on the cheese, okay?
3 ounces Asiago cheese (or another semi-hard cheese), grated
10 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated (plus more for sprinkling)
5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
3 ounces pepperoni, thinly sliced
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
Prepare the gluten free pizza dough according to the recipe instructions through the rise. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper, and set it aside.
Preparing the dough. If using the thick crust pizza dough from page 187 of GFOAS Bakes Bread(reprinted here) on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smoother as directed in These General Shaping Tips. With well-floured hands and a well-floured rolling pin, pat and roll out about 1 pound of the dough (the entire recipe makes about 1 1/2 pounds) into a rectangle that is about 12-inches by 14-inches, rotating the dough and flouring it frequently, to prevent sticking, as shown in the gluten free pizza shaping videoembedded in the post above. If using this gluten free pizza crust, follow those directions for shaping, but do not divide the dough, and roll it into a 12-inch by 14-inch rectangle. Cover the rolled out dough loosely with a moist tea towel and allow it to rise slightly while you prepare the fillings as indicated in the recipe ingredients.
Assembling the braid. Once the toppings are prepared, uncover the dough. Using a sharp knife, pizza wheel or pastry wheel, cut a 3 1/2-inch x 1 1/2-inch rectangle out of each of the 4 corners of the dough rectangle. This will allow you to wrap the ends of the braid securely around the fillings. Position the dough rectangle so that one 12-inch side is facing your body as you work. Beginning about 1-inch from the top of each flap on the left and right-hand sides of the rectangle, cut 8 approximately 1-inch strips in those flaps. The fillings will all be placed in the center third of the rectangle, from the top to the bottom of the dough, as shown in the step-by-step photos above. First, scatter all of the grated Asiago cheese in an even layer down the center panel of the dough. Cover with an even layer of all of the chopped spinach, then 1/3 of the grated mozzarella cheese, followed by an even layer of the sliced pepperoni, and finally the remaining 2/3 of the grated mozzarella cheese. Pack down the fillings tightly by pressing down firmly. Starting at one end, pull the flap taught over the filling. Only the flaps on the ends will be pulled taut. The rest of the braid should be much looser, allowing room for expansion in the oven. Alternating sides, braid the 8 strips on each side of the rectangle over the filling, angling the strips slightly. Do not pull the strips taut. Stop braiding when you have reached the bottom two strips (one on each side) and the bottom flap. Pull the bottom flap taut up and over the bottom of the filling, and cover gently with the remaining two strips. Transfer the braid carefully to the prepared baking sheet.*
Brush the entire surface of the braid generously with the egg wash. Scatter the additional shredded mozzarella cheese on the top of the braid. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until golden brown all over (about 15 minutes). Remove from the oven, slice and serve immediately.
*Make ahead option: At this point, the stuffed braid can be covered and placed in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake it, just remove it from the refrigerator, uncover it, and continue with the rest of the recipe as directed. I do not recommend freezing yeast dough, however, as it may kill the yeast. And you won’t know until it doesn’t rise in the oven upon baking.