When you are not Italian, you must vaguely remember the first time your mother made her first homemade pizza. My mother didn’t look up a recipe in a book, “nor surfed the Internet”. She had super powers like all the mothers in the eyes of their children. And she was brilliant at improvising in her kitchen. The dough shouldn’t have caused any problems in the land of Man’oushe and Sfiha. Writing about that now, I recall some people buying their pizza dough at the baker’s. In Beirut, and specifically in Ras-Beirut, the cosmopolitan and lively part of the city I grew up in, there were small family owned bakeries at every corner of the different village like neighbourhoods. Everybody knew everybody and you trusted what you bought. But my mom loved doing everything from scratch, and she mastered everything she touched. She made her own dough and whipped her own delicious tomato sauce, and never wrote the recipe. But when your taste buds have been well trained by your mom’s food, and you have been somewhat attentive and curious about the glorious happenings in her kitchen, you will sooner or later be able to reproduce your culinary memories, and pass them on to the next generation in the beautiful circle of life.
I am sharing with you today my new recipe of dough using spelt flour. Adapted to my original recipe of Man’oushe in my Cookbook, The Taste of Marjeyoun, also shared on the blog to commemorate Zaatar Day, this version is more rustic and healthy.
Why spelt? Popular in German homes and bakeries, spelt is an acient cereal grain in the wheat family with a distinctive nutty and slightly sweet flavour. It is also an ideal alternative to wheat if you are allergic to the latter, more digestible, higher in protein and has fewer calories. Its protein complex though is different than wheat containing more Gliadin than glutenin. Gliadin gives the dough its stretchiness; glutenin makes it more elastic and gives it more shape. So don’t be surprise when your dough spreads more than it usually does with wheat flour.
In Germany we are a lucky to have so many types of Spelt. Starting with the whole grain, then type 1050, 812 and 630. The number indicates that the flour contains higher shells and mineral share from the whole grain. Type 630 is the closest to all-purpose white flour, meaning that you can substitute wheat flour with white spelt almost in a 1:1 ratio; you only need to reduce the amount of liquids by a very little amount!
Finally, what makes pizza a favourite for everybody is the variety of choices in the topping. The amounts in the recipe below are my suggestion for two large trays, and they can be easily substituted with more vegetables.
For the dough
- 250 g whole grain spelt
- 200 g spelt Type 1050
- 2 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 60 ml olive oil
- 300 ml lukewarm water
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 6 small garlic cloves sliced
- 500 ml tomato sauce
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
For the topping
- 200 g ham cut in cubes
- 50 g salami cut in cubes
- 1 red pepper rinsed and sliced
- 300 g champignons cleaned and sliced
- Pickled pepper optional
- 400 g Emmental cheese grated
- Green or black olives
- For the dough: Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the oil and water and mix well until the dough gathers into a ball, adding a little extra flour if it is sticky or a drizzle of water if dry. Knead for about 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and pliable. Lightly oil the bowl and turn the round dough over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
- For the sauce: In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Mix in the oregano and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough in two equal parts. Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface to 2 mm thickness. Carefully transfer onto the prepared sheet. Spread with half of the tomato sauce. Cover with half of the topping’s ingredients.
- Preheat oven (220°C, 425°F). Bake for about 20 minutes.