Let me start by stating the fact that I do not like cauliflowers.
In fact, I loathe them.
The smell, the taste, the texture. I’m a vegetable loving vegetarian who actually does crave broccoli but never could stand to be within a metre of cauliflower in any shape or form including the very famous fried cauliflower and eggplant sandwich we call Meshakkal in Kuwait. Never was a fan. The same goes for sweet potatoes, I just could never understand their over-sweetened taste nor embrace it as a vegetable.
Now that being said, I’ve been swamped by vegans and their recipes lately and one thing that kept popping in my face is the “Cauliflower Pizza”. At first I was repulsed, why would anyone subject themselves to such torture? The more I tried to ignore its existence, the more it seemed to pop up everywhere and there must be something about this pizza crust that’s causing all these vegans to go to the trouble of making, styling, shooting, posting, and eating those pizzas over and over again. Obviously something good that you couldn’t get from a box of gluten-free pizza flour, so why resist it? Why not take a leap of faith and try it?
That being said, I’ve looked over so many cauliflower pizza recipes online and in several vegan cookbooks I have, I could recite the instructions in my sleep. What’s certain for sure is that its gluten free but there are so many variations: with eggs, without eggs, with apple sauce, with cheese, without cheese, each variation swings the pizza base’s description between veganism and vegetarianism. Is veganism even a word? I’m not sure. In any case, I finally was sold out by the dairy-free recipe of this cauliflower pizza base from The Lucky Penny blog, the pictures were just too delicious to resist.
A small head of cauliflower, emphasis on small since I wanted an individual pizza and had no one willing to try it on a Friday afternoon with me. Washed and florets cut and dropped in a food processor then processed until it resembles a fine snow-like powder.
The fine snow-like powder isn’t ready to use yet, it smells like cauliflower obviously, and if you follow the recipe you’d need to microwave the cauliflower -which will violently release its beautiful smell and spread it around the kitchen-.
And its still not ready, you will need to wait for the cauli-flour to lose a bit of its microwaved heat, then place it on a clean piece of cloth -I used an old, clean, ghetra- and squeeze the life out of the surprisingly juicy microwaved and heated cauli snow!
You squeeze and squeeze and end up with a rather good amount of liquid, and by this time you yourself will smell like cauliflower, and you will start to think that perhaps its time to make your own vegetable stock with all the vitamin-laden water you managed to squeeze out. It was turned into soup, I can assure you it wasn’t wasted.
Now, the cauli-flour is ready to be mixed into a dough. You add the remaining ingredients: Almond meal, herbs, salt and pepper, and one egg –do refer to the original recipe for exact ingredients– then mix it up and voila, you have a tad-runny albeit ready to bake dough.
Next you need to oil a sheet of baking paper and place it on the oven tray you are baking with, then you place your cauliflower dough on top after shaping it like a pizza disc. That part was easy and quick.
Off to the hot over it goes, and you sit there and wait for the dough to firm up into a pizza base, fingers crossed of course. I personally couldn’t believe it would come together.
Now, throughout the preparation process I was almost suffocated by the smell of cauliflower but once it started baking, the smell was changed 180 degrees! By the time I got it out, it smelled like something smothered in bread crumbs and deep fried, like veal escalope, a good smell if you’ve grown up in the 80’s and a fancy lunch meant escalope paneeh especially in the movies -you know what I’m talking about-. What I’m trying to say, is that once the pizza base was out of the over it was firm, golden, and smelled absolutely great!
I used my trustworthy pizza sauce receip to make the sauce while I was waiting for the pizza base to bake. I then spread a generous amount on top and was happy to find that the base didn’t crumble nor sag when met by the moisture of the tomato sauce.
Added all my favourite toppings, good quality mozzarella cheese chunk, a bit of cheddar, read basil, and off to the oven it went.
It didn’t take long for the pizza to come together! As it baked, the kitchen was filled with the warm aroma of baked pizza and I had no patience left in me anymore, I wanted to lift the entire thing up and bite into it like one big pizza slice. It is a plant-based pizza after all!
Tell me that doesn’t look good!
I was a bit afraid for my pizza. I knew it held well by this point, but would I be able to cut it? Would I be able to lift it without it falling apart? Would I be able to bite into it and wave it around and pretend I was having a takeaway pizza as I park on my favourite chair watching my current favourite sitcom? -I’m re-watching Smallville these days if you are wondering-
Only one way to find out. I took out my trusty pizza cutter, this lady and I have cut through many a-pizzas in her time serving alongside my cravings. She, from the first roll, would be able to tell me exactly what to expect from this gluten-free cauliflower based pizza.
And it cut through, like a dream! Easily, nicely, resisting a bit on the edge and smoothly running through the pizza. I knew then that the base was a success. I didn’t hesitate as I lifted up my first slice, even held down by the protesting strings of cheese, it was still intact as my first slice was finally set free.
Now for the moment of truth, how did it taste?
Texture wise, you wouldn’t know it was made from anything not flour related. Taste wise, there was no trace of the cauliflower whatsoever and not bad at all. However, because I am very sensitive towards the taste of eggs, I could detect a faint hint of them in my pizza and I knew, should I decide bake this again, I would opt for the vegan option of using apple sauce instead. The only thing I did miss as I chomped away on my surprisingly perfect base was the pizza edges, not everyone is a fan of those but I am, a big one, and I think is the best part of any pizza. You don’t get those round doughy edges but then again it is supposed to be a healthy alternative to traditional pizzas, you could at least sacrifice those for a trimmer waist and a healthier craving-satisfaction!
It is, however, not as quick and straightforward as measuring and mixing flour, but who wouldn’t mind the extra exercise? Excellent recipe, Lucky Penny, thank you for posting the how to in details!
Now, there is another way of making a gluten-free pizza base that I found on a video on instagram that I cannot seem to find anymore. It simply mixed a sweet potato with oats and eggs and then baked them the same way the cauliflower pizza was baked. I did have a go at it two days after the cauliflower pizza, and I even made it cedars-pizza style sauce, cheese, and ketchup on top style. Alas, the dough was no where near as round, firm, or perfect as the cauliflower one and in the end it tasted like baked and extremely-sweet potatoes topped with cheese and ketchup so I mashed it all up and ate it as such. I couldn’t even lift one slice, so as far as gluten-free plant-based pizza basis go, it is the cauliflower that is a winner.
Now while I wouldn’t personally bake the cauliflower pizza everyday, nor particularly crave it over a big fat bubbling pie from Dominos, I wouldn’t mind baking it again when I’m -eternally- dieting and trying to cut down on my carbs. Perhaps one day there will even be a box of ready-made dry cauli-flour dust, already prepared and ready to be mixed with the rest of the ingredients to make the base, you never know!
Have you guys tasted cauliflower pizza before? Do you have any tips on making an even more awesome pizza base? Or are you hesitant still and not sure whether its for you or not. Personally, I wouldn’t mind swapping the cauliflower for broccoli but I’m not too keen on having a green-hued pizza base nor am I sure it will yield the same result so I’ll be sticking to cauliflower for now.
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