HOW THIS SPELT AND OAT FOCACCIA RECIPE CAME TO BE:
One day I was browsing the flour shelves in my favorite health food store when another shopper sighed in frustration and gestured at an empty shelf. Evidently it had been the Spelt Flour shelf, which was now 'sold out'.
We entered into one of those conversations based on shopper bonhomie. We both liked spelt flour. It is an ancient grain, but has almost a 1:1 ability to be used in the place of bread flour or all purpose flour, even though it is technically a "whole grain flour" like whole wheat-- but sooo different in its baking profile from whole wheat. It has quite a high gluten quantity, but doesn't require as much kneading. In fact, if you over-mix spelt flour, you end up with that stringy quality that says "high protein" (or rubber bands). It has a nice nutty flavor (again, unlike whole wheat), and a sort of "soft cake-y" texture in some baking. And it is high in fibre-- definitely a plus over regular wheat.
So, I came home where I actually had a small cache of spelt flour, unlike my shopper friend. I spent a few baking sessions in making focaccia, the no-need version of the more or less traditional Italian flat bread (sometimes called "white pizza" because of the similarity). After a couple of delicious jaunts with the usual white bread spongy, yummy usual bread, I began to think that it would be nice to have a bread that was not just delicious, but also had a little more nutritional value. I found a pretty good recipe for a bread that mixed in oats and whole wheat, but I have a spotty past with whole wheat (could you tell?) and thought about what else I might use. Aha! Spelt flour!
So, this version uses oat flour (I just ran it up in my food processor) to lighten the bread up a little, and because I have a lot of oats and the other flours are pricey, so why not try the oats as a supplement? I took the whole wheat-oats recipe and just plugged in spelt for the whole wheat. AND it worked. Beautifully! So light, spongey, tasty, fragrant! If you want to try the whole wheat-oat recipe, I've added it at the bottom of this page.
- 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup organic rolled oats
- 2 cups organic bread flour or all purpose flour
- 1 cup organic whole grain spelt flour
- 4 1/2 teaspoons fast-rising yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cup of cold water
- 1/4 cup of boiled, hot water
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt or salt crystals
- Grind up the oats into flour (use a coffee bean grinder, food processor or blender)
- Put some parchment paper inside a cake pan (8x8 or 9x13) and lightly oil with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Use a piece of paper towel to apply the oil evenly.
- Combine all the flours, yeast, 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons oil, and hot water combined with cold water in the bowl of a stand stand mixer.
- Beat the ingredients on medium-high for 1 minute only. Too much beating of spelt flour is not a good thing.
- Using a lightly oiled spatula or other scraper, scrape the dough into the pan and ease it into flatness. Don't worry about filling all the cracks, etc, since the dough will do that as it rises.
- Put a damp tea towel or piece of very lightly oiled parchment paper over the top of the pan-- do not seal the pan with cling wrap. Let it rise in room temperature, about one hour or until doubled in size.
- 20 minutes before the rising is complete, heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 degrees Celsius.
- Lightly pock the dough in the pan. Drip over the final tablespoon of oil and sprinkle the 1/4 teaspoon of kosher or other rough salt.
- Slip the pan into the middle rack in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
- Cool the focaccia bread in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes and then carefully remove the parchment paper and cool the bread "naked" on the cooling rack until cool (30 minutes to 1 hour).
- Enjoy the bread in any of several different ways: as open-face sandwiches, with hummus or other dips.
- Wholewheat-oat focaccia recipe here.