Hels has been trying to cut down, or even cut out, wheat consumption as it seems to have a funny effect on her.
However, we love bread and pizza and other wheaty things, so we have been casting around for a suitable substitute. I have to say that most wheat-free products are pretty awful. Exceptions that we have discovered include Waitrose German rye bread and Dr Karg’s spelt crackers – wheat-free they may be, but they are also tasty.
One piece of kitchen equipment which hasn’t been used so much lately is our lovely bread maker. Hels recently purchased a pack of wholemeal spelt flour and set me the task of making wheat-free pizzas. I searched numerous internet recipe databases (the bread maker recipe book offers no guidance on this) and eventually found a recipe which I modified as follows:
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 4 cups spelt flour
- 9 and one third fl oz water
- two thirds tsp salt
- two thirds tsp sugar
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 1½ fl oz olive oil
Put the ingredients in the bread maker in the order suggested by the manufacturer (usually yeast first, then the other dry ingredients and finally the oil and water) and run the pizza dough programme. You could, or course, use a food processor or mix by hand, but I prefer the bread maker as it warms the dough as it goes and therefore accelerates the proving process. It must be said that this makes a heavy dough which was right at the upper limit of what our machine could cope with. Although our machine has a capacity of 600g (and four cups is roughly 450g), I don’t think it would be wise to put that much in for fear of damaging the motor.
The dough that comes out is not pretty and I really thought that it would turn out pretty bad when I looked at it. But once I tipped it out of the tin and got my hands to it, I was pleased to find that it had a lovely stretchy quality and was actually good to handle.
You definitely need to make a fairly thin base with this mixture. I spread it across our large roasting sheet (roughly 30 x 40cm) and then put it in a only-slightly-warm oven for fifteen minutes to prove. After that, and with an all-over pricking with a fork, I blind-baked it for ten minutes or so before topping it and cooking it through. The recipes I found online all suggested blind baking to ensure some crispiness and avoid sogginess.
It turned out pretty well. The base turned out to be quite flavoursome in its own right, so I recommend a good strongly-flavoured topping (we had tomato purée, basil, red pepper, chorizo, mozarella, thinly sliced shallots, grated strong cheddar – but I think it would be great with anchovies, capers, olives). It also seemed to stick to the pan more than our conventional wheat-based recipe, so be sure to thoroughly grease your pan before cooking (I’ll pay more attention to this next time so that Hels doesn’t need a hammer and chisel when washing up).
The next challenge is to find a spelt bread recipe that works. Watch this space.