This feta-fennel pizza is a super easy tasty vegetarian variation of my new favourite effortless dinnercrush: the sodabread pizza. You can really feel the spring in every bite in this amazing airy soft pizza (that works just stunningly well with both wheat and gluten free flours). Try this on a pizza party, you can play around with different toppings to satisfy everybody at the table from the ones who can never get enough spicy to all vegetarians, meat lovers and even the ones with the craziest cravings.
Since I discovered this amazing trick to make quick and deliciously airy gluten free pizza I was trying out so many different variations I probably haven’t had as much pizza in the whole past ten years (since I eat gluten free) combined. It was a delicious ride, and now it`s time to share the love.
I started experimenting with baking yeasted doughs lately. I find it absolutely stunning how the whole process works; the way flour, water, yeast and salt turns into something elastic and shiny while kneading, and the way the dough rises, expands and becomes light and airy. The only problem with this magical process is that it is all based on the development of gluten in the flour. That means gluten free flours are not doing so well in yeasted doughs. But even if in most of these experiments tasting was not part of the creation I could get really far with learning. So far it appears to me that yeast is not really efficient in the creation of gluten free baked goods, but luckily that was not the end of it. Using bicarbonate of soda as a rising agent for savoury dough was a real game changer for me.
The traditional Irish soda bread is the coolest bread-baking-cheat you can imagine. The bicarbonate of soda is activated straightaway in the oven creating small air bubbles allowing your dough to have a good rise without any resting or proving time. And as a bonus, there is no need for the gluten to develop to reach an airy, light dough structure. It is quite effortless baking as you skip all the kneading, resting and proving. The ingredients are just quickly mixed in a big bowl and shaped to a flat disk on a baking tray and then go straight into the oven. (With the gluten free flour kneading wouldn’t make a difference, but with wheat flour it would even hinder the effect of the bicarbonate of soda and make the bread tougher.)
Ingredients (makes one pizza, serves 2):
- 225 grams of gluten free flour (normal wheat flour works as well, but then make sure you don’t over mix the ingredients to avoid the pizza getting chewy)
- 200 millilitre yogurt (buttermilk/Karnemelk or kefir works as well)
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ½ fennel thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion (cleaned and finely chopped)
- Freshly grated white pepper
- 1 tablespoon dill (finely chopped)
- 4 tablespoon yoghurt
- 100 grams feta
- Chives to top
Pre heat oven to 200 Celsius and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange fennel slices next to each other, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of oil and bake for 5 minutes. Place slices on a plate and set aside.
Heat up a skillet with splash of olive oil and braise the onion on medium fire until translucent. Mash feta in a bowl using a fork and mix it with the onion, dill and the yoghurt to get a creamy spread.
Mix the flour with salt and bicarbonate of soda then add the flour and mix to combine. Place dough on the baking tray and shape it into a round or rectangular shape that is about 1 centimetre thick. If you use the gluten free flour you might want to make your hands a bit wet and swiftly push the dough down until you get a reasonably even, flat surface. (The recipe also works with wheat flour, but then you need to avoid over working the dough to avoid it getting too thick, but it will still be quite elastic, so you might want to use a rolling pin to help you shape the dough). Pre bake for 5 minutes, quickly take out while your oven is still running and spread the feta mix on top, arrange the fennel slices and crumble the remaining feta on top. Bake for 10 more minutes. Serve it hot, with a sprinkle of chives. It`s best when still hot, but it is also delicious to take with on a picnic or for an easy lunch.