The variations are endless: cauliflower crusts, cheesy layered deep dish, drooping thin crust, rounds of spicy pepperoni, tartly sweet barbecue sauce, roasted chicken, black olives, sweet pineapples and salty ham, crispy bacon, sweet caramelized onions and mushrooms, hot peppers… there’s a pizza out there for everyone.
And guess what, Nightshade Free Garlic Lovers, there’s a pizza out there for you!
These garlic fingers are a Canadian East Coast specialty, baked in every corner pizza store of every small, Maritime town (our town’s is the best, though, obviously). Tragically, they’re impossible to find anywhere else (‘cheesy garlic sticks’? Puh-leeze), especially with the most magical dipping sauce you’ve never heard of – donair sauce!
What is a donair, you ask? Donairs are a Lebanese-Canadian invention, made of slices of spiced roasted meat on a vertically rotating spit, covered by tomatoes and onions and served on a fluffy pita. It is imperative that a mess is made while eating it. If you don’t end up with sauce on your shirt, you have to ask yourself what kind of life you are living.
What sets the East Coast Donair apart from donners, döner kebabs, gyros, or shawarma is the sauce, and it is that sauce that always accompanies the cheesy, dripping garlic fingers, served in a styrofoam cup and lovingly swaddled in tin foil.
It’s weird. I won’t lie to you. You’ll either love this sweet sauce or you’ll hate it, but if you love it, you’ll never want to dip your pizza in anything else ever again!
The first thing you’ll want to do is make your pizza crust of choice. I’m going to be using my family’s amazing pizza crust, but I’m also a huge fan of this crust by Sally’s Baking Addiction (She’s my favourite!). I usually double or triple whatever recipe I’m making and toss the extra dough in the freezer for another day.
We’re going to take the dry ingredients and blend them all together in the mixer with a dough hook already in place. If you don’t have a mixer, by hand will do!
Then we’re going to add the oil and warm water, and mix until all the dry and wet ingredients are mixed in together, scraping the sides and bottom of your bowl if you have to.
Then turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead 30-40 times. You’ll probably need to add more flour as you go to prevent it sticking to your hands or the counter. This is to help the dough stretch and become very elastic and easy to spread on our baking sheet.
Grease your pizza pans, and divide the dough in half, rolling and stretching to the edge of the pan.
We want to cook the crust a bit before we put any toppings on it to prevent the crust from getting soggy, so we’ll just pop that in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
True garlic fingers are only ever topped with mozzarella, maybe some parmesan cheese, and bacon bits, but since this is the pizza substitute in my life sometimes I like to get creative. Ham and pineapple, caramelized onions and mushrooms, olives, bacon, artichoke hearts, whatever you like!
First we need to make the garlic spread. This comes together quite quickly. You’ll need three tablespoons of butter or margarine (1 tbsp of olive oil will also work, but it will affect the taste), and 1 tbsp of garlic powder or a whole minced garlic clove. DO NOT USE GARLIC SALT BY ACCIDENT. Oooooooh boy. A quick dash of pepper and oregano to add some more flavour.
Mix that all in together until the garlic is evenly distributed in the butter.
Plop it on top of your pizza dough (which is now out of the oven and hot, so should make the butter melt quite nicely)….
And spread! Try to make it as even as possible, and make sure to leave space on the edges for your convenient pizza handle. I like to use clean hands for the spreading because I’m a tactile cook and it’s easiest, but you can use a spoon or spatula if you want.
Now 2 cups of shredded mozza. Try to get a pizza mozzarella if you can, since it will melt better in the oven than regular mozzarella. If you’re a cheese junkie like me, sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the top. This will add a nice salty, cheesy kick.
We can toss that in the oven while we prepare our donair sauce! Trust me. It’ll be weird, but it’s okay. It’s freaking delicious, so creamy and sweet… I’ve adapted my recipe from the one posted on Chowtown, I find mine more flavourful but you know how much I love garlic! I hereby give you permission to tone down the garlic if you find it too strong.
Pour your can of sweetened condensed milk, your garlic and onion powder and then white vinegar in a bowl.
You really just want to fold the mixture together with a spatula or spoon. It will resist you. Don’t let it win. Keep folding and folding until there is no longer any vinegar separated or sitting on top.
Your kitchen is going to smell AMAZING. Do not be surprised if you end up with several faces pressed against the glass of your oven door, watching the cheese bubble. No… I don’t have nose prints on my oven… why do you ask?
At last! Time to pull the garlic fingers out of the oven! The cheese should be all bubbly and brown, the edges of your pizza crust crusty, the insides soft and fluffy…
These are garlic fingers, not slices, so we’re going to cut them into, well, fingers – perfect for grabbing and dipping!
I’m so so sorry you can’t jump through your screen right now.
Then I dip…
Now it is very important that everyone you live with has some of this, because this dish is Halitosis City. Delicious, delicious halitosis… soooo worth it. But if you all have some, it’s not a problem!
- 3 cups all purpose flour (OR 1 ½ cups white and 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour)
- 2 ¼ tsp (1 pkg) instant yeast
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 cups warm water
- 3 tbsp butter or margarine (or 1 tbsp olive oil – this will affect the taste!)
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- dash each of black pepper and oregano
- 4 cups mozzarella, shredded
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- Any other toppings you want!
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz., 414mL)
- 1 tbsp each garlic and onion powder
- 6 tbsp white vinegar
- Measure flour, yeast, baking powder, sugar and salt into large mixing bowl with a dough hook attachment. Stir.
- Add cooking oil and warm water, and mix well.
- Turn pizza dough out onto floured surface. Knead 30-40 times until smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking.
- Grease 2, 12” pizza pans, and divide dough in half.
- Roll and stretch the dough until it covers the pan.
- Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes before you put any toppings on.
- Prepare your garlic butter: mix butter with garlic powder, black pepper and oregano.
- Spread the mixture over the crust evenly. Cover with shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese.
- Put back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted, the edges lightly brown and bubbly.
- In a bowl, place sweetened condensed milk, onion powder, garlic powder and vinegar. Fold in until completely mixed, and there is no vinegar separated or sitting on top.
- ) Let pizza cool for 5 minutes before cutting into fingers and serving with donair sauce for dipping.
This recipe was featured at the Friday Favourites Link-Up!