Cauliflower Crust Pizza

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First off, I need to mention that this was a huge mistake. If you’re looking for an amazing, magical recipe, you should probably go and find someone who knows what they’re doing. Or you can read this anyway for a small bit of amusement.

I should have been tipped off when I initially fielded the idea on a group chat with my girlfriends. The conversation went a bit like this:

Me: Apparently you can make a pizza base out of cauliflower?!
Friends: That is not a pizza, nor is it a real thing.
Friends: This whole cauliflower fad has gone too far.
Friends: TOO FAR, I say!
Me: No, guys, it’s going to be amazing!
Me: I genuinely have no idea what I’m doing right now.
Me: What is happening. What is this.
Me: Okay this isn’t a pizza.

This is the recipe I used, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the recipe itself, but I’ve added my ‘troubleshooting tips’ below.

Nonstick spray
590g cauliflower, grated (about 1/2 a large head)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
295g shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
60g tomato sauce
236g grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Fresh basil leaves, optional

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 425ºF (Gas Mark 7).

Grate the cauliflower using a box grater until you have two cups of cauliflower crumbles. Place in a large bowl and microwave for seven to eight minutes, or until soft. Remove from the microwave and let cool.

Mix in the egg, 235g mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Once combined, pat into a 10-inch round on the prepared pizza pan. Spray lightly with nonstick spray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden.

Top the pizza with the sauce, 60g mozzarella, grape tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Bake in the oven until melted and bubbly, another 10 minutes. Top with basil before serving

1. The ingredients list says 590g cauliflower, but the recipe itself says to gate two cups worth. My two cups ended up weighing only 300g, but I went with it and in the end it made the right amount of ‘dough’. I wasn’t sure whether this meant I had to microwave the cauliflower for a shorter length of time, but after stopping the microwave periodically, seven minutes seemed to be fine.

2. I had a momentary panic when I didn’t know whether I was meant to grate the stalks or just the flowery bits, having (surprisingly enough) never grated a cauliflower before. I did it all. It also turns out that this is a really messy thing to do. It would definitely be easier to do this in a food processor, but I don’t have one.

3. The mozzarella cheese was another hurdle. As it goes in the mix for the base as well as on top, I was concerned that a regular ball of mozzarella would be too soggy (foreshadowing) so I ended up buying a more rectangular block labelled “mozarella for pizza”. As it turns out, it can’t really be shredded as directed (I tore it up into smallish chunks) so they must have meant for me to buy normal mozzarella. That would have been an error so don’t do it. The mix was soggy enough without extra moisture from the cheese.

4. I was concerned that adding the egg directly to the hot cauliflower mix would immediately scramble the egg. I used a clean mixing bowl (as the one that had been in the microwave was very hot) and stirred the mix around a bit to cool down before adding the egg. Amazingly, it didn’t scramble!

5. The mixture didn’t really bind together in any meaningful way, but as the recipe says to ‘pat’ it into shape on the tray, I figured that was normal. This part was like making a very wet, lumpy sandcastle. I was worried about spreading any thinner as gaps started to appear between the bits of cheese, but it was probably a bit too thick in the end.

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6. FYI 425F is 220C and I set my fan oven to 210C. It took way longer than 15 minutes to form any kind of structure that I could balance toppings on. Mine was in for about 25 minutes.

7. Toppings. I added a handful of yellow pepper and chorizo as well (because meat) and used about 6 cherry tomatoes that I sliced into thirds, definitely not 236g as suggested. I had also pre-roasted some leftover butternut squash I found in the fridge with paprika and cumin, but I didn’t fit on the top so I served it on the side. Oh and I chopped the basil but forgot to put it on at the end.

8. I had a real “HOW DID I NOT THINK THIS THROUGH?” moment when trying to remove the so called pizza from the baking parchment. The edges were crispy but otherwise the whole thing was really floppy which is totally obvious when you think about the fact that it’s made predominantly of melted cheese. Melted cheese is not a rigid material. And it stuck to the parchment. How could I ever have thought this would resemble a traditional pizza base? Anyway, it took two people, two plates, a pizza cutter and a spatula to serve this up.

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Overall consensus – it ended up tasting fine (probably because of the toppings) but having no structural integrity and an odd, slimy texture. Probably closer to an omelette than a pizza. Thinking about it, with all that cheese and the extra toppings, it was really no healthier than a normal, home made pizza would be, especially with alternative flours.