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Sunday, May 24th


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Mona Farrugia's Spelt Pizza Base

Mona Farrugia does a hop and a happy skip around the kitchen as she finally develops the closest ever thing to a low-carb pizza base.

Mona Farrugia's Spelt Pizza Base


Main Ingredient Spelt Flour
Preparation Time 30 minutes
Cooking Time 10 mins
Course Pizza
Recipe Serves 4
Recipe Type Low-carbNo Wheat

I have been making too many visits into Valletta lately. In the stifling summer heat, with all that construction going on, the last thing I need is to be assailed by the two visual extremes of the human body: lithe, winsome and absolutely stunningly gorgeous Northern European English language students and their complete opposites: Maltese fatsos stuffed into too-small jeans, muffin tops which look like cakes and overdone hair. Both should come with a health warning for completely different reasons.


Our youth is fat. It is obese. It spends most of its ‘leisure’ time eating crap and then goes home and eats more of it. That crap is packed with processed wheat flour, fillers, thickeners and every single corn derivative which the multinational (mainly US) food industry has managed to extract. Most of the crap they eat is low fat. One day people in this country will wake up and realise that low-fat = very fat indeed and not just because they eat three times the amount of it.


We all feel bloated in summer. A combination of heat, humidity and trying to pull last year’s shorts up past our thighs (trick: long, flowing dresses – they work and everybody will think you look ethereal) means that we all become paranoid. Moreover nobody feels like cooking so quick meals are the thing to go for.


Pizza, of course, is paramount. Yet developing something akin to a low-carb pizza has been a tremendous holy grail for me. Spelt flour is not ‘low’ in carbohydrates. In fact it contains 60% carbs. Nontheless it does not harm the body or the stomach lining like processed wheat does, and is an ancient grain, somewhere between a grass and a cereal so our body, which did not develop over the past 1000 years, assimilates it so much more easily. I needed to include sugar because the yeast needs it and cannot be fed anything else.


I did not want to eat something that the American low-carbers have developed, with its additives and its weird ingredients. I wanted good stuff mixed to form a real dough. I wanted a crisp base and a soft, low top (like Margo’s, although I thought I was asking for too much). I wanted the real thing, but without the over-processed wheat, the fat belly or the needing to pass out after a couple of slices.


And bloody hell I’ve managed to do it. If you follow my instructions exactly, and they include using if you possibly can, an oven which has a setting whereby it heats only on the bottom, you will do it too. Whether you get into those shorts or not is another issue.


You need:

400 grams spelt flour

220 wholegrain spelt flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dried yeast

1 ½ teaspoons sugar

100ml warm water

300ml buttermilk or natural, fresh yoghurt

6 tablespoons good olive oil




First prepare your yeast. The water needs to be exactly body temperature so that it develops without dying, which will happen if it is too cold or too hot. The way to check this is to poke your (hopefully clean) finger into it. If you cannot feel the water temperature, it’s perfect.


Place the yeast and sugar in a bowl and pour around ¾ of the prepared the water into it. Give it a good whisk and leave it there to develop. It should have bubbles on top quite quickly and that is how you know that the yeast is having its lunch.


Then sieve the flours, together with the salt, into a large stainless steel bowl. Poke your finger in the middle and gently make a hole, pouring the developed yeast liquid and the buttermilk or yoghurt which has been mixed with the oil into it slowly, mixing  until you have a very sticky dough. Add the other quarter of water according to whether you need it or not.


You could, of course, use a dough hook and a machine but after a day of work I enjoy imagining that the dough is some silly person’s face and poking my fingers into their eyes.


Knead for around ten minutes until your dough becomes silky. I hope you have clean hands and good music on the radio.


Wipe your bowl with the olive oil and also wipe your dough ball with it. This, so that when it starts to expand, it will not stick to the sides.


Leave it in a warm area for two hours. If you are making this in Malta, that ‘warm’ area is absolutely anywhere but in the fridge. Cover it with a clean cloth.


After these two hours, the dough should have expanded to almost three times its original size. Knead it a little back down again and press it with your fingers into the shapes you want. From this amount you can make four human sized (not Zebbug takeaway size) pizzas.


I like to use silicon sheets to do this so that I can then slide the ready pizza off very easily. I suggest that you wipe a sheet of stretch and seal with some more olive oil and cover your base with it so that it does not form a crust, although, if you are doing this in Malta, again, the possibility of a ‘dry’ day is stretching it a little.


Preheat your oven, the one that heats from the bottom if you possibly can, to the highest temperature it goes. I cooked mine at 275C.


For toppings, the trick is to have everything slightly dry except for the tomato passata and the olive oil. For example, I used good, fresh mozzarella, but I chopped it into chunks  and let these drain before I piled them on. If you do that, you end up with a gooey top, a crisp and chewy base, and a size 6 body.  I can only promise the first two though.

Shopping Tips
Here I have used the spelt flours available at Naturali at Smart in B'Kara. I have found them to be the best out of a local very small selection available.


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Yasmin Galea
July 01, 2011
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Will definitely try, is spelt easily found ( both versions, that have been mentioned in article?)
As soon as I got the ingredients this will be my next low carb recipe to try.

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