Let’s just get it out there: pizza crust replacements are never as good as the real thing. When comparing something like cauliflower crust to actual real deal gluten-filled pizza crust, the latter will always win. However, since gluten simply doesn’t work for everyone, sometimes finding a replacement that can come as close to the real thing is the next best thing. And while I consider pizza to be in my list of top three favorite foods, it’s also not something I eat every day (even if I crave it everyday.)
When pizza cravings hit and I have to work with what I’ve got, I turn to one of my favorite flour alternatives to create a totally customizable pizza-type crispy flatbread that is almost as good as the real thing.
If you haven’t experimented with chickpea flour yet, let me introduce you to my favorite flour replacement. Chickpea flour (or besan as I grew up calling it) is a staple in South Asian kitchens that is higher in protein than other flours, and is also gluten free. It’s a bit denser than an all-purpose flour and is the perfect binding flour for baked goods, but is super light and becomes really crispy when fried as a batter.
My go-to use for chickpea flour has been these pancake-like flatbreads that are nice and soft, the perfect base for topping with veggies for a quick and easy dinner. Having gotten the knack for making soft breads with chickpea flour, I’ve been in the process of creating a crisper, crusty flatbread option from the flour. The process of creating the dough for these flatbreads is so incredibly easy, and the whole process takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish.
To make the dough, you add the chickpea flour, spices, olive oil, and milk into a bowl and mix. Add the water little by little until you have a sticky bowl of dough, then using clean hands, bring the dough together into a ball and knead in your hands a couple times, and then roll the dough out super thin! Bake it up and then top with your favorites. I made one “pizza” with classic toppings like sweet roasted cherry tomatoes and melty mozzarella, and a salad pizza with some leftover pesto I had and some spring time veggies which is my favorite way to sneak in some extra greens. Eat it hot with melty cheese or cooled off with some hummus swirls and marinated veggies, the options are endless!
- 2 cups of chickpea flour
- 1 tsp salt
- A couple turns of black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- A sprinkle of asafoetida (optional but recommended)
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp milk (I used unsweetened almond milk, but you can use whatever you have)
- 2 1/2 tbsp water, add as needed
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, add the chickpea flour and spices. stir together to combine evenly.
- Add the olive oil and milk to the flour mixture, and using a spoon, stir to combine. the dough will be crumbly at this point.
- Add one tablespoon of the water at a time, using the spoon to combine until a dough forms. the dough will stick to the spoon, but that's okay. you'll know the dough is ready when using a clean finger, you press the dough and it doesn't stick to your finger. using the spoon, gather up the dough and using clean hands, mold the dough together in your hands, kneading and folding it together, and roll it into a ball.* place the dough into a clean bowl and cover with a damp paper towel, let rest for about 10 minutes. *the dough should not stick to your hands, if it's too sticky, add a little extra flour at a time until you can handle the dough with clean hands.
- Sprinkle some chickpea flour onto a sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough ball into four equal servings.
- Using a rolling pin, roll each of the dough servings out to about 1/8 inch thick, rotating and flipping the dough through the rolling process. use extra flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.
- Once the dough is rolled out, place on the baking sheet and bake on the first side for about 10 minutes. carefully flip the rolled crust after 10 minutes and bake for another 5 - 8 minutes. if you're baking a "pizza" style crust, top the crust with toppings and cheese before baking on the second side.
- Remove the crust from the oven and top with your favorite extra ingredients.