This site is dedicated to the creation of delicious home-made vegan pizza's that in my humble opinion, is so much more satisfying and enjoyable than what you get from the delivery guy. These recipes could be easily altered to suit your tastes, or choose a recipe dependant on what fresh fruits and vegetables are available. The key however, to creating a successful vegan pizza is in the planning ahead. So when you sample the mouth-watering results created from your own hand, you will realize that it is certainly worth the effort!
Making vegan pizza as no trickier than making a simple bread. The pizza crust uses basically the same ingredients and I prefer my toppings to be kept to a minimum (ie. tomatoes, cheese, mushrooms, olives, etc). Another bonus to creating these recipes at home is that you have the option of using fresher and generally better ingredients than what you would get from a pizzeria. Below I have listed 6 easy-to-remember steps that will help you create great vegan pizza's. The first hurdle is in the shaping of the pizza base, this can be quite intimidating for many, but with a bit of practice, and once you realize that the pizza doesn't have to be uniformly round, then the rest should be as easy as pie.
If you do include dairy in your diet there are some good recipes at http://vegetarian-pizza.com.
1. Dough Preperation
Just like bread, you can use a food processor to make your pizza dough, or you could mix and knead the whole thing by hand. If you go the hands-on approach I would start first in a large bowl, then go onto a floured board. Either way, your pizza dough will be ready in about an hour. But if you wish for the dough to develop more flavor, then you need to make the dough ahead of time to let it rise and ferment in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.
2. Shaping the Dough
We're all familiar with the image of pizza makers stretching and tossing the dough to create a perfect circlular base. However, for the purposes of this exercise, it's a technique that's neither practical nor necessary. From my experience, you can get equally good results by shaping the dough on a work surface and gently pressing it with opened fingertips until it slowly stretches into shape. I suggest the best way to shape your pizza, is to flatten the dough a bit, and then roll it. Pizza dough, like bread doughs, should be relatively moist, so even if the dough seems tacky and unruly, use only as much flour as you need to keep it manageable while you're kneading and shaping. Remember that patience is the key to shaping pizza dough. Slowly shape the dough by pressing or rolling and stretching, as well as allowing the dough to rest between steps, such as when you divide it, or when you flatten it, and even during stages of rolling. You will discover that the more you handle the dough, the more elastic and difficult it becomes to work because of the gluten within the mixture. Resting the dough relaxes it and makes it easier for you to work.
3. Thick or Thin Crust?
You can make any size or thickness of pizza-it all depends on how you divide and shape the dough. Thin pizzas, especially the large ones, are the hardest to handle because they tend to tear during rolling no matter how experienced you are. I prefer to divide the dough into at least two pies, and if they're going on the grill, I would divide the dough into three or four pies. General rule of thumb for determining the crusts thickness is the dough will usually double in thickness once it's in the oven, which will slightly vary dependant of course on oven temperature, toppings etc. For a thicker crust, leave the dough to rise a few extra minutes after you shape it. But don't leave it too long or it will puff up too much and lose its elasticity and effect its overall texture when it come out of the oven with large peaks and sunken valleys.
4. Pizza Toppings
When topping a pizza my preference is for distinct, clean flavors rather than a confused mishmash of ingredients. You can't beat classic combinations such as: tomatoes, basil, and vegan parmesan; roasted peppers and olives; or tomato sauce and vegan mozzarella. Of course you should experiment with different vegetables and vegan cheese substitutes, but for now, I would recommend trying out a few of the recipes I have listed on this site, and then advancing your experiments from there.
Toppings Tip: Once the pizza comes out of the oven, try adding a sprinkle of fresh herbs, a spice blend or finely ground nuts. Pizza is great way to add some of your favorite ingredients or even using up leftovers in a more creative way.
Another rule of thumb when it comes to toppings is 'less is more'. As tempting as it is to add as many toppings as possible to the pie, I find that too many ingredients just confuses the pizza taste and does no favors to the time and effort that has gone into making the crust - so ease up on the sauce and vegan cheese. Another point to remember is if you overload the dough, it will steam as it bakes. This will turn a potentially crisp and light crust into one soggy pie. So, resist the temptation to smother your pie with excess toppings!
5. Baking your Pie
It's important that your pizza is baked in a very hot oven; 500°F (260°C), or higher if possible. Most professional pizza ovens are around 700°F (370°C)! Without a doubt, the best way to cook pizza is directly on a pizza stone, which crisps up the base of the crust and dries it out perfectly. But be sure the oven is thoroughly preheated to fully heat the stone. It's best to wait a good half hour before placing the pizza on the now hot stone. But of course, pizza's are also just as fine baked on a flat baking sheet if you don't have a pizza stone.
From my experience, the ideal pizza stone is a large rectangle that can hold a whole pie or two small ones. It should be unglazed and relatively thick. Once you've got yourself a stone, you should then acquire a pizza peel board, which come in many variations of shapes and sizes. This is one of the must-have pizza tools that insures your masterpiece doesn't get damaged going in and out of the oven. Sprinkle flour on it and you can roll the dough directly onto the peel, and then just slide it right onto the stone. Some cooks prefer wooden peels as they are more attractive than the metal ones but can get a little shabby looking after many uses; and others prefer the metal peels as they are much easier to clean.
Baking Tip: If you use a baking sheet to bake the pizza, grease it with a little olive oil to keep the dough from sticking, rather than dusting the surface with flour as you would with a peel. Once done, you can just press the dough directly onto the pan as you shape it.
6. Cutting and Serving Pizza
Let the pizza rest for a couple minutes so the toppings set before cutting, especially if you've used a gooey cheese. Like bread, pizza's with little or no cheese (or other rich ingredients that might congeal when cooled) are best served at room temperature. You can cut pizza into wedges like pie or small squares if you're feeding a crowd or just want smaller pieces.