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Archive April 2008
Saturday 12 April 2008
And now, a stimulating post on the subject of flour!

Today I used white spelt flour for a pizza dough (full recipe; 180ml water, teaspoon salt, teaspoon sugar, tablespoon olive oil, teaspoon yeast, flour kneaded in until it's not tacky to the touch). It made a pizza dough better than I've ever had before. It wasn't a matter of working it differently - I put the ingredients in a bread-machine, so they got the same treatment they always would. So it must be the flour. If you've ever tried to make proper pizza dough, you may have been tempted to try spinning it like you see pizza chefs do on TV. If you tried it, or even thought about it while poking the dough, you'll have decided it won't work and probably written it off as you aren't skilful enough. You may be right, but that's not what's wrong. You may know how the second-choice dough-shaping method is "stretch the dough, don't squash it into shape or you'll push the air out". And if you've tried to do that, there's a good chance that didn't work either. It's not your fault! It's the dough. This dough, from white spelt flour, I picked it up out of the machine and it stretched. I held it by its upper corners, and it stretched. I got it most of the way into the rectangular shape I wanted by just holding it up and waiting for it to stretch itself. Just a little squishing required to get the corners shaped. It behaved in every way perfectly for the making of pizza, right up to "not sticking to the tray at all", and as an added bonus was relatively delicious. Not as tasty as wholemeal spelt, but the texture was definitely a win.

Apparently the gluten in spelt flour is not the same as normal wheat gluten, so that perhaps explains the difference in behaviour there. (Also, some coeliacs are not harmed by spelt, though some are.)

In other flour-related things, did you know that buckwheat is not in fact a wheat, nor even closely related? It's not even a grass. It's apparently more like sunflower seeds. Buckwheat flour is also very good; it makes a lovely nutty-flavoured pastry or crumble or pancakes or gingerbread or unleavened biscuits. It doesn't have any gluten though, so won't work for bread or dough (though mixing a bit in for the flavour can work).

Both of these flours are supposedly (and I believe it) nutritionally superior to wheat. I certainly prefer them. The downside is they're also more expensive and harder to get hold of. I recommend making the effort. [20:06] [2 comments]