Cricket Crust = Pizza Perfection

My friends have boasted about eating pizza crusts made of cheese or riced cauliflower or even quinoa. So, I thought, why not cricket flour?

I have a standby pizza crust recipe that I love. It comes from The Joy of Cooking and, let’s face it, those guys know what they’re talking about. As with any recipe, you can’t just straight out substitute cricket flour for wheat flour. Baked goods need flour’s gluten to stick together and I knew that would especially be true for pizza dough, which needs to be elastic. I usually sub cricket flour for one-fourth to one-third of a recipe’s wheat flour. In this case, I decided to go toward the low end of that range. The resulting dough was easy to work with, not too heavy, yet substantial enough to hold toppings.

The verdict from my pizza-loving family? I didn’t tell them. I mean, if they didn’t notice a difference in flavor or texture, why do it. Further proof (at least in my mind) that incorporating insect-based protein into our diets can happen without a lot of fanfare and disruption.

Here’s my recipe if you’d like to do a little cricket flour experiment of your own:

Cricket Flour Crust

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) dry active yeast

1 1/3 cups warm (105 to 110 degree F) water

¾ cup cricket flour

2 ¾ to 3 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

Combine yeast and warm water in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Combine flours, olive oil, salt and sugar. Mix with yeast and water.

Mix ingredients by hand or on low speed for about 1 minute to blend all the ingredients. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly coated with olive oil and turn it over once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75 to 80 degrees) until double in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Grease two pizza pans and lightly dust with cornmeal; or place a baking stone in the oven and preheat it for 45 minutes.

Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Roll each piece into a ball and let it rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 10 to 15 minutes. While the dough is resting, prepare the desired toppings.

Work with one dough ball at a time. Begin by flattening the ball on a lightly floured work. Roll and stretch the dough into a 12-inch round. Place each dough circle on a prepared baking pizza pan. To prevent the toppings from making the crust soggy, lightly brush the top of the dough with olive oil.

After topping, bake about 12 minutes or until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden (if using cheese). Remove from the oven, slice and serve.