Spelt flour

Easy Spelt Pizzas

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I was always intimidated by the idea of making any bread related food, but once I gave this spelt pizza base a go I realised how easy it actually is and haven't looked back since! I have made it in all different shapes and sizes, from a large family style pizza, to mini heart shaped ones. The options of toppings are endless so experiment as much as you want, with whatever you have on hand. This is a staple in the Vegetarian Treehouse Kitchen and every time I make I am so glad I didn't decide to order in!

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Spelt is a wheat free flour, which is packed with nutritional benefits from regulating the body’s metabolism to lowering blood sugar, and reducing cholesterol levels. It does however contain very low levels of gluten therefore if you are celiac I would recommend replacing it with rice or quinoa flour.

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Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

Pizza Base

4 cups wholegrain spelt flour 3/4 cup warm water 1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons zataar Salt to taste (preferably Himalayan pink salt or sea salt)

Toppings

4 vine tomatoes 1 tablespoon dried oregano 1/4 cup tomato paste 1 teaspoon coconut sugar / brown sugar 1 medium onion - sliced 1 tablespoon coconut oil 1 pack chestnut mushrooms - sliced 250 gram pack halloumi cheese - sliced salt &  freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

Sift 3 1/2 cups of the spelt flour into a large mixing bowl.

Gently whisk the yeast in 3/4 cup water to dissolve.

Add the yeast and olive oil to the flour and stir in until you have a consistent texture.

Then start kneading the dough on a clean floured surface for about 5 mins.

Place the dough back in the bowl, dust with some flour and cover with a damp towel. Leave the dough to rise for approx. 1 1/2 hours, until it has almost doubled in size.

In the meantime you can make the topping....

Cut the tomatoes in half and place cut side down on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 mins.

Heat up the coconut oil in a pan on medium/high heat, and add the onion. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 mins, until caramelised and set aside.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven, and leave to cool for about 10 mins. Then remove the skins and place in a medium sized bowl.

Add the oregano, tomato paste, and sugar to the tomatoes. Whiz all the ingredients with a hand blender or normal blender, until you have a smooth sauce consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

When the dough has risen, oil a lined baking sheet and set aside.

You can divide the dough up into 2 medium sized pizzas or 1 large pizza, it's up to you.

Dust a clean surface with flour and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, adding the zataar and salt as you go, and pinching the edges with your fingers. The dough will rise slightly so roll it out as thin as possible.

Place on the oiled and lined baking sheet and brush the edge of the pizza with olive oil and add the the toppings, starting with the tomato sauce, caramelised onions, mushrooms and finally halloumi cheese.

Pop in the oven for approximately 30 mins, if you're making smaller pizzas bake for less time, about 20 mins.

Take out the oven, cut up and enjoy!

Spelt and Date Cookies

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It has been quite a busy week as we finally found a lovely apartment and moved in a week today. Of course the first thing to be unpacked and ready to use was the kitchen and I've been trying to understand the way the stove works as it's and electric stovetop and we had a gas stove in London so there have been many trials.You come across delicious looking dates almost everywhere you go here and I ended up buying a pack of amazingly soft medjool dates. When I got home I wanted to make something with them and had a look through a cookbook I bought a couple of years back called When Suzanne Cooks by Suzanne Husseini which is a great book filled with delicious Middle Eastern recipes. I have to say it does help being in the Middle East as the ingredients are easier to come by. I altered the recipe slightly to make it slightly healthier and to suit the ingredients I had at home so instead of white flour I used whole grain spelt flour and instead of butter I used coconut oil, and luckily it worked!

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Ingredients (makes about 2 dozen)

1 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour 1/2 cup coconut oil 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 3 cups soft dates, pitted and chopped 30 grams 70% dark chocolate

Place the coconut oil, nutmeg and cardamom in a small saucepan and put on low heat until the coconut oil has melted, then set aside.

Put the flour in a large saucepan and place on medium heat and let it toast slightly, stirring constantly, this should take about 10 mins.

Then add the dates to the flour and combine until the dates start to soften slightly then add the coconut oil and remove from heat. Continue mixing well with a wooden spatula. Transfer the mixture onto a clean surface and knead slightly until you get a dough like consistency, then roll it out and if you have a cookie cutter cut the cookies into any shape you like and place onto a lined baking tray.

Melt the chocolate by placing a heatproof bowl/dish over a saucepan with hot water (make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl) and put the chocolate pieces into the bowl and leave them to melt. Once melted using a spoon, scoop out some chocolate and drizzle over the cookies.

Leave the cookies to set for at least half an hour and enjoy with a nice cup of mint tea or a coffee!