Hungry for some instant gratitude that goes by the name of delivery pizza? It seems to be a food that few stop craving even as the years of childhood are left in the dust, something that 90% of people at a party could easily agree on, and a forbidden temptation for many vegans. Not satisfied to simply report that Sheese did not perform as I had hoped on top of a pita pizza, I racked my brain to figure out a way around such a huge obstacle. In a moment of inspiration, [or perhaps insanity] I began drafting blueprint a on how to reinvent this classic Italian American favorite, and morph it into something that my enthusiastic taste testers could even consider to be an improvement on the original.
Admittedly, it appears that I took some grievously erroneous turns when designing my new take on the pizza, but there were quite a few aspects to take into consideration even before I brought the flour out of the pantry. Some may consider pizza to be the perfect food already, but there’s always room for improvement, right? Before the fiercely loyal pizza-lovers start to protest and defend their ways, allow me to explain how I ended up with a rolled bun, and not a flat bread at all.
As effortless and comforting as a floppy slice of grease-laden carbohydrate heaven may be, I have a few pet peeves about the traditional pie. The least of these would have to be the clearly un-vegan layer of cheese, often thick enough to smother a small child. Also, what about those portion sizes? Even if the slices are reasonable enough to form an average-sized meal, the leftovers some how never fit quite right into any sort of container in which to preserve them, and foil allows their aromatic scent to impregnate any of the more impressionable food items sharing the same fridge space. Additionally, that labor-intensive crust on which the whole structure is based tends to become a doughy, unpalatable excuse for bread when attempted by popular franchises. Consider it the Wonderbread of pizza; Perfect in appearance to the point of looking like plastic, almost completely devoid of nutrition, and akin to swallowing rocks when it comes time for your stomach to digest it. But what is the average person to do, lacking the time to knead their own and then allow it a proper rise? Being somewhat intimidated by yeast and its curious properties myself, my starting point in this adventure was facing the challenge of working with it, and surely enough, it began to work with me.
Wanting to craft a recipe for dough that needed no time to rise, I found that just adding in yeast without giving it any special treatment would provide those lovely flavors present in any real bread, without extra work or worry. Relying heavily on chemical leaveners as well, this hybrid holds its own when asked to do some serious cooking, but is a bit less elastic and forgiving as a traditional pizza dough, so it must be worked gently. Rolling it up with Sheese safely tucked inside prevents the faux-cheese from burning in the oven, while still making it melt-in-your-mouth smooth. Once baked, they can be eaten on the side to make room for a more varied meal, and then frozen to easily enjoy later. No awkward wrapping here – They should easily fit in the average Tupperware container.
Consider it the pizza of the future; Vegan, delicious, perfectly portable, and decidedly un-greasy. What’s not to like about that?
1 Cup Unsweetened Soymilk
1 Packet Dry Yeast
1 Cup AP Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Margarine
1/3 Cup Pizza Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
3 Ounces Mozzarella-Style Sheese, Grated [Or any other solid vegan “cheese”]
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Heat the soymilk in a microwave-safe dish for just about a minute in order to warm it through. Add in the yeast and let sit. While those two ingredients become better acquainted, in a separate bowl, combine both flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the margarine in, and make sure to chop all of the fat into the smallest pieces you can manage, so they are completely coated in the dry ingredients to make fine crumbs. Pour in the soymilk / yeast mixture at this time, and mix it all together so that it all forms a cohesive, but still rather moist dough.
This is where things get tricky, so work carefully. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface, flouring your hands lightly as well so that you can manually pat it out into a rectangle measuring somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 x 8 inches. Being such a loose dough, it won’t play nicely with a rolling pin, so you just need to poke and prod it into shape with your hands. Once you achieve a satisfactory rectangle, spread the pizza sauce over it, going most of the way to the edges but leaving perhaps a centimeter uncovered all around. Sprinkle the garlic powder over it, followed by the grated Sheese. Try to cover the surface evenly with all of the above.
Finally, you’re ready to roll! Gently roll the dough from the long side, moving with care and without stretching or pulling the dough. Once you have a nice log, cut 1 inch pieces with a sharp knife, using a sawing motion and as little downward pressure as you can muster to prevent the rolls from becoming completely smushed. Move the rolls to a silpat-lined baking sheet, [About 9 per sheet so that they have room to spread] reshape them if necessary, and bake for 13 – 17 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy warm or reheat in a toaster oven later.