So far in my attempts to make a vegan pizza, I have tried using store bought soy cheese with some success and for the first time I decided to try making a pizza without any cheese. Using the tried and tested Jay's Signature Pizza Crust recipe from allrecipes.com, a naturally vegan recipe, I first prepared the base as per instruction. As I left the dough to rise over a pot of warm water, I prepared the necessary toppings which included the quintessential tomatoes, capsicum, mushrooms and also offbeat ingredients like broccoli, blanched spinach, sun dried tomatoes and flaked almonds. Instead of the usual one large pan of pizza, this time round, I prepared it in individual portions, giving each member of the family to choose his favorite toppings. For both my husband and brother, I added mozzarella cheese while I left mine naked.
Even as my pizza was in the oven, I knew that one of the problems would be the fact that I will not be able to get the ingredients to stick together as it does not have cheese as glue. Apart from that, my other concern was the taste and to be honest, as I sat down for dinner I was armed with a bottle of chilli sauce and mustard. But surprisingly, the taste was not the least bit compromised by the lack of cheese and I never had to reach for any additional seasoning. If you approach it with an open mind, it makes a delicious bed of vegetables on a bread base. I realised that the tomato base helps to add flavour and seasoning to the overall pizza and it was pretty tasty. The next time I make, I'm going to saute the vegetables separately and bake the dough longer. Top it up and drench them with more tomato sauce or preharps in some barbeque sauce... yum...
Cheeseless Vegetable Pizza
Pizza Base (Recipe taken from here)
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 cup warm water (approximately 45 degree celcius)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 1/3 cup plain flour
some cornmeal for dusting the pan (my addition to the recipe)
3 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
a generous pinch of oregano and basil
Toppings (desired quantity)
capsicum (bell peppers)
sliced red chilli
1) Dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the warm water. Let it stand for about 10 minutes. Bubbles should start to appear. If no bubbles appear, the yeast is dead, restart this process with another batch of yeast.
2) Add the flour, salt and olive oil and knead in a mixer or by hand until smooth and elastic. Add in more flour if it is sticky.
3) Place the prepared dough in a well oiled pan and cover with a cloth. Keep it in a warm place for an hour or until it doubles in size. (I usually put the pan in a bath of warm water to ferment faster).
4) Punch down the dough and roll it into a tight ball. Roll it out according to you desired thickness for a pizza base (i.e. thin or thick crust pizza)
5) Oil and dust your pizza pan with some cornmeal and place your rolled dough onto the pizza pan. Let it rise for another 20 minutes or so. Preheat oven to 220 degree celcius.
6) Once ready, bake the dough for about 10 to 15 minutes (I find that this 'seals' the dough and does not let it get soggy when the ingredients are placed on the dough)
7) Spread a layer of the tomato base and top with desired topping.
8) Bake again for another 20 minutes until the vegetables start to wilt.
9) Serve while hot.