Since getting & flicking through 'Wheat Belly', I've been looking to reduce the amount of bread in my diet & also looking for some alternatives to white wheat flour if I were to experiment with a little baking myself. And whilst trying to lose some kilos, it seems like the sensible thing to be doing. I guess I can do without bread altogether but I'm building a meal plan that I'm happy with long term & completely eliminating something isn't always the wisest of ideas.
Therefore, I've been looking for alternatives to satisfy the occasional crunch, the occasional edible salsa/dip holder, to wrap or sandwich healthy contents & as a base for a healthy pizza.
So I've been scouring recipes for all sorts of alternatives. The first recipe I decided to try was for a sprouted grain bread with only a few ingredients. It involved soaking brown rice overnight. It was a little bit of a recipe fail to be honest. The bread didn't rise much and I wasn't using the right equipment. Hence why I went looking & am currently waiting for a Le Crueset pot with lid, redeemed with FlyBuy points, to arrive!
Meanwhile, I happened to notice a packet of organic wholemeal spelt flour when I was shopping in Coles the other week. I picked it up not knowing what I'd use it for but I had read somewhere that spelt was often a good grain to be using as an alternative to wheat. Its an older grain without as much genetic modification as the wheat flour we know today. I had read that it tastes & behaves similarly to wheat and is at least as nutritious. It is also often tolerated better than wheat. Not by Coeliacs, but those with wheat sensitivities.
So then began my search through my cookbooks, my artisan bread making books & online for a spelt pizza crust. Afterall, pizza night was coming up & rather than buy some more gluten free wraps or pita or sourdough bread, I thought it would be cool to make my own pizza base.
I used a few different recipes and came up with my own version. I wish I could say that kneading for hours & leaving bread to rise suited me but although I'm very impressed with anyone that can spend that much time in the kitchen, its not for me. Too many other responsibilities & interests to be immersing myself in.
Spelt Pizza Crust Recipe
[Makes two large thin pizza bases]
2 cups organic wholemeal spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup warm water [maybe a smidge less]
Preheat oven to 220 degrees celcius. Mix spelt, baking powder, & sea salt together in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add olive oil. Start to mix and add in the water bit by bit until it forms a scrappy dough. Its a bit rough. Add more flour if too sloppy. Once in a ball, remove from bowl and knead for a few minutes on a spelt floured surface. Divide into two.
Use rolling pin to stretch the base out. Oil up your pizza tray or add without oil to a pizza stone. Bake for about 8 minutes each side [depending on your oven] until it just starts browning up. You do not want golden brown here otherwise it will burn when cooking with toppings. To be honest you could just cook to golden brown on one side & make that the side you add toppings to. The other side [the base] will get a good baking once the toppings are melting away.
Next, prepare & add your toppings. I then baked in the oven for a further 15-20 minutes until the cheese was fully melted. Probably 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven would be enough.
Leggos Tomato paste with garlic & herbs
Homemade basil pesto
Baby roma tomatoes quartered
Fresh rocket on the top once removed from the oven.
I am pleased to say my recipe worked a treat and I'll use it again & again & again with different toppings & herbs within the crust too. On my first attempt, I browned the base probably a little too much on the first baking [before toppings] but I still really liked it & it had terrific crunch. Some people enjoy a lighter or a more doughy type base but I'm not fussy in the department. In fact I didn't feel any heaviness or bloating that I can sometimes get with a white flour dough pizza. For the last few years I've mostly be doing pizza on pita, sourdough, gluten free bases [some of those are rotten!] and even rye bread. But on the odd occasion we have dined out & the base has been made of white flour, it has made me feel a bit yuck later.
To make sure the recipe was solid, I made it again within a few days. This time I added some extra herbs into the dough. A bit of cracked pepper & some chopped Rosemary sprigs. If you found the base a bit 'brown' or heavy, you could try mixing the dough with half white spelt & half wholemeal or any other variation. I also changed the toppings on the second try & had a go at making my own tomato sauce too.
Homemade tomato sauce [crushed vine grown tomatoes - juice drained - crushed garlic & pinch of salt] or you could try this recipe here & get both passata for spaghetti bolognese & amazing tomato paste!
Fresh Rosemary from my garden
Baby roma tomatoes sliced
It was even more delicious the second time around. I might now give making flat breads a go too, using a variation on this recipe so that I can use them for tandoori chicken salad wraps or even cut them up to use as spelt corn chips with homemade salsa.
So I shall experiment some more & let you know if I come with anything else.