As a child, I remember my mother buying fresh yeast. That always meant a day of baking was ahead of us. She would put the yeast in warm water and it would foam and bloom like a science experiment. With it, we made the most delicious bread.
Today, however, many people try to avoid yeast. Some people are allergic to it while others have a sensitivity to yeast and for them that might mean following a yeast-free diet. Then there are people, like myself, who don’t have the time or patience to wait for yeast to rise. I will admit there are times I want to make homemade pizza but I just don’t have the time to wait an hour or two for the dough to rise. Sure, I could use tortillas or a loaf of bread but we all know that’s not really pizza, not the pizza we crave.
Since my favorite kind of pizza is thin crust (c’mon, I am a New Yorker), I figure the yeast isn’t all that necessary. Making pizza dough without yeast is like making flatbread which is perfect if you like thin-crust pizza. Here are some awesome ideas for satisfying your pizza urge without the yeast.
1. Why Do We Use Yeast Anyway?
The main reason we use yeast is to make bread and other baked goods rise. It’s a process of fermentation. The yeast feeds on the sugars in flour and expels carbon dioxide. The gas fills thousands of balloon-like bubbles in the dough and a gluten network is created. This is what makes bread rise and have an airy texture that you don’t see in quick breads or unleavened products. Yeast also adds a distinctive flavor to baked goods. Yeast can sometimes be substituted with baking soda and an acid such as cream of tartar, buttermilk or yogurt.
2. Self-Rising Flour
Self-rising flour is not an equal substitution for yeast but depending on what you are making, it might be a good choice. It is all-purpose flour that has baking powder and salt added to it. The leavening power of baking powder helps give baked goods some lift. As mentioned, yeast helps form a gluten network with the protein in the flour. Self-rising flour has a low protein content so it won’t give the same type of rise and texture that yeast will. Products may be more fragile and crumbly. If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can make your own. Simply combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 ½ tsp. baking powder and ½ tsp. salt.
3. Thin Crust Yeast-Free Pizza Dough Recipe
Thin crust pizza doesn’t need a lot of rise or airy texture so it can be made without yeast by adding some baking powder to the recipe. To make Thin Crust Pizza Dough: in a mixing bowl, combine 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. kosher salt. Mix until combined. Add 1 Tbs. olive oil to the bowl. Slowly add up to 1 cup of water to the bowl. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix until dough forms. Using your hands, work the dough into a ball. It should be soft and smooth, not sticky. Add more water if it’s too dry; add more flour if it’s too sticky. Transfer the dough to a floured work station and knead for 5 minutes. Cover the dough with a towel and let it rest for 10 minutes. Using your hands or a rolling pin, spread the dough out to form a circle or your desired shape. It should be less than ½” thick. Place on a baking sheet or pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and add your toppings. Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Serve while hot.
4. Gluten-Free Yeast-Free Pizza Dough
In my opinion, making gluten-free pizza isn’t much different whether you use yeast or not. Since there is no gluten for yeast to form a network with, the dough doesn’t rise much anyway. To make Yeast-Free Gluten-Free Pizza Dough: in a medium sized bowl, combine 2 ½ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum, 3 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. kosher salt. Mix until everything is well-combined. Add 1 Tbs. olive oil and up to 1 cup of water. Mix until you have dough and form it into a ball. The dough should be soft and not sticky. Transfer the dough to a flour-covered surface and knead for a 3 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. Stretch out the dough to fit your baking pan with your hands or with a rolling pin. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes so the dough gets slightly brown and firm. Remove from the oven and add your toppings. Bake for another 15 – 20 minutes or until the pizza is crisp and browned to your liking. Serve while hot. See Tips for Making a Gluten-Free Flour Blend and 5 Uncommon, Gluten-Free Flours that are High in Protein.
5. Alternative Crusts
Besides making yeast-free pizza dough with flour, you can choose to make quick pizza with tortillas and flatbreads. Anything that lets you layer sauce and toppings on it can become pizza. Try this Breakfast Tortilla Pesto Pizza and this Vegan Lahmajun – Armenian/Turkish Pizza for delicious, alternative ways to make pizza.
But what if you don’t want any type of bread at all? You can still have pizza with crusts made out of vegetables. That’s right. You can make pizza crust out of broccoli or cauliflower. Try this Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Mung Bean Curry and try using the same technique with broccoli.
Another way to have yeast-free pizza is to make raw pizza. Raw pizza is not only easy to make but it’s healthy, fresh and scrumptious. Make this Raw Vegan Pizza with Red Pepper Flax Crust, Raw Vegan Pizza with Spinach, Pesto and Marinated Vegetables and the Ultimate Raw Vegan Pizza.
6. More Recipes
Here are some more recipes for yeast-free pizza that will have you wondering why you ever bothered to use yeast at all. Try this One Bowl Gluten-Free, Oil-Free Flax Meal Pizza Crust, Sweet Potato, Sesame and Chickpea Pizza, Socca Pizza, The World’s Healthiest Homemade Pizza Crust, and Healthy ‘Digestive-friendly’ Quinoa Pizza Crust.
The next time you are craving pizza, you don’t have to go through a 3-hour process to make your own. Just try making one of these delicious yeast-free pizza crusts and you’ll be enjoying an amazing slice in less than an hour. Check out 10 Tips and Tricks for Rockin’ Pizza for more recipes and ideas for sauces, toppings and more.
Lead Image Photo: One Bowl Gluten-Free, Oil-Free Flax Meal Pizza Crust