Monday, 24 March 2008

The Great Vegan Spelt Pizza Base Experiment








I have been inspired to write my own blog after having read some of the many excellent food blogs out there (What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway?, Fuss Free Flavours and 101 Cookbooks are three of my favourites which spring immediately to mind). The internet is a fantastic resource for those with even the smallest amount of interest in cooking and there are a wealth of recipes, blogs and databases online to suit all tastes. I am often to be found searching for healthy recipes which suit the way I want to cook and eat. In the course of my research, I kept stumbling across pizza base recipes - I wouldn't usually do much baking since you have to include yeast and flour (too processed for my liking and I don't always take well to yeast) but I kept having pizza base fantasies and wanted to try some cooking with spelt flour, as I'd read that this ancient grain was often more easily tolerated than wheat.

Even more exciting than using my Doves Farm Organic Wholegrain Spelt Flour was using the dough hook on my food processor for the first time! Ah it's the little things. I made two batches of dough, large enough to fit a pizza tray, baked the first and kept the second in the fridge for a week. The recipe was roughly as follows:
Spelt Vegan Pizza Base
3 1/2 cups of spelt flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp yeast
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
extra virgin organic olive oil
And I took my inspiration from this recipe and also from here - I'm not a great one for following recipes to the letter, so I'd recommend just giving it a go and seeing how it feels. I definitely think one week in the fridge was a bit too long as the second dough was a lot stickier than the first. I didn't use a pizza stone but did use a pizza baking tray (with holes). I made half of each pizza vegan (as I don't believe in mixing carbohydrates eg flour with animal protein). Mark doesn't believe in this however and just loves cheese, so I whacked a load of mozzarella on his half. I was a bit scared to put too many toppings on the first pizza as I'd read not to overload it, but found that the spelt is pretty sturdy and is actually quite bready, so I really went for it on the second one (top picture).
Fillings that worked the best were sundried tomatoes, grilled yellow peppers, griddled courgette strips, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and fresh basil. I made my tomato sauce simply by roasting some cherry plum tomatoes in the oven with some olive oil and garlic cloves, then pureeing it with my hand blender (absolute favourite piece of kitchen equipment) with some dried Italian herbs and fresh basil.
On balance, the pizzas were great but it needs some more practice before it gets perfect. I think I used a little too much yeast and actually put some sugar in mine which I wouldn't use again. I would also try to make only one batch at a time, as keeping it in the fridge seemed to make it really sticky.
Either way, the pizzas were great to take to work for lunch - filling, wholesome and incredibly tasty. Definitely a success.



1 comment:

Hippolyra said...

Tessa,

Try just a little cornmeal in your pizza bases next time, it gives a fantastic texture and crunch. Having done this one I am never going to make them without the cornmeal

I am so happy that you were inspired by me - I really am chuffed! Thanks