Potential pitfalls are plentiful when creating gluten-free pizza crusts. What about the extensibility of the dough, the cohesiveness of the chew or even the color of the crust? The length of the ingredient list must be considered as well as such ingredients as whole grain.

Wheat flour, the ingredient being removed, provides answers for many of these challenges.

Since wheat flour contributes many of the dough and crust properties, a gluten-free flour blend should include functional ingredients as well as gluten-free flours, says Vanessa Brovelli, senior product applications technologist for Bay State Milling, Quincy, Mass. Starches, gums, fibers and protein powders all are functional ingredients that may add back structure, strength and dough extensibility when wheat flour is removed. Potential gluten-free grain flours are rice, millet, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, teff, corn and buckwheat, she says.

“A good gluten-free pizza flour blend will hold water to increase dough absorption,” Ms. Brovelli says. “It will create a dough that is extensible enough to be workable by hand or by sheeting, and it will trap gas during fermentation or proof to create a desirable crumb.”

The desired type of pizza crust (deep dish, thin, cracker-type, etc.) may require small changes in the formula, such as absorption or oil/fat addition. Still, a good gluten-free flour blend should work in most types of crust, she said.

“Sometimes a formulator can alter the texture by changing what gluten-free grains he/she works with,” she says. “For example, corn may give pizza crust more of a crunchy texture. Waxy rice as opposed to long grain rice may give a softer bite and higher water absorption, and gluten-free seeds like chia or flax can give a more cohesive chew to a crust.”

Brown teff may contribute a brown color, and sorghum may add a greenish color.

“So these may need to be balanced with other grain flours that are more neutral such as millet and rice,” Ms. Brovelli says.

Using blends of different gluten-free flours and starches and customizing the flour blend for the recipe are important strategies, says Angela Ichwan, senior director of research and technical solutions for Ardent Mills, Denver.

“Just for one example, whole sorghum flour works well in foods that are comparatively higher in moisture, but a high inclusion level of sorghum can impart grittiness,” she says. “So it’s important to conduct a lot of trial and error to achieve the best ratios for each finished product.”

Read more about gluten-free pizza crusts at Food Business News.