Thin crust spelt pizza with beet & chèvre (vegan option)
If you have followed me for a while you have probably noticed my undying love for pizzas, burgers, tacos and the like. I like these street foods elevated, with quality ingredients - made healthy. There should be no need to feel guilty or sad after a delicious pizza dinner when you're eating the new generation style pizzas.
I like my crust really thin! In this recipe I chose to use a whole grain spelt flour instead of regular wheat flour, this creates a tougher chew than regular refined wheat flour which makes a crispier crust. But trust me - the whole grain crust has a charm that is easy to love.
I have a couple of pizzas lined up for the blog, and in this post I'm sharing a long time favourite of mine - the beet and chèvre pizza, inspired by the "to die for" pizzas I enjoyed in the south of France - rather than classic Italian ones. On the coastline between Nice and Marseille they serve Pissaladière - the best pizzas I ever ate ( - sorry Italy! ). The Provencial pizzas have a choice of toppings that I love, less tomato based and more white pizzas. In my recipe here, I'm swapping the French style pastry dough for my healthier whole grain alternative, but using the French style of toppings - this way I still get the satisfaction of my French holiday pizzas - the perfect marriage between healthy and tasty! How about that?
Oven baked chèvre on slices of beetroot drizzled with honey (or agave) and topped with herbs is a combination I often return to in various forms - I make salads and burgers with this combination. Add roasted nuts and you've got pure perfection. Transferring the formula to a pizza is heavenly - the beet and chèvre pizza is really juicy and full of flavour. The aromatic thyme and rucola creates interest - and enhances the beet and the tangy chèvre. You'll want to make this again and again if you try it.
For a wholly vegan pizza, you can use vegan chèvre (see link in recipe below). It's going to be really delicious too!
Pizzas are like tacos and burgers - the perfect vessel for creative variations. I'll make a bunch of different toppings in one baking session! Leftovers in the fridge might end up on a pizza too. I make some pizzas more minimal, with just olive oil, salt, cheese and a herb, while others are topped with a whole salad. It's also part of the fun - that it's spontaneous and room for flavour play!
It's just not the pizza and it's toppings that can be varied, but also how it's baked. Pizzas can be baked in a pan or in an earth oven, or why not on the bbq?
In my old house we had an earth oven in the garden. I really enjoyed gathering around the pizza oven with friends and family- The fire is sparkling, the aromas of hot bread spreading, everybody is helping out and it's a really relaxed and cosy way of hanging out...
The pizza made in a traditional clay and stone oven comes out more crispy. Due to the high temperature, it's baked in a minute or two. The beauty of outdoor pizza baking is that it's great for a get together. Just put up a few tables to bake on and keep toppings available, prepare enough dough and let everyone bake and top their own pizzas. It's hands on and fun, a success formula for a party! You don't need an earth oven, it's also doable with an outdoor grill. The pizzas will bake a little slower than in the earth oven, but grilled pizzas are incredibly good and all the rage right now. Famous chefs Rachel Khoo and Jamie Olivier are both fans of bbq grilled pizzas.
If you are interested in building your own earth oven, it's not that expensive or difficult. Find a workshop in your neighborhood - and after learning the skills for two days you'll be able to build your own oven with the help of friends.
If you're in my neighborhood - the north of Netherlands, you can contact my friend and earth oven builder Christo Markham for information on workshops (he also teaches abroad). During the summer of 2016 a number of natural building and sour dough baking workshops will be given at the Sekoya center in Schoorl, north of Amsterdam. It's truly an inspiring place and a real hippie haven for yoga and craft workshops. I used to live on the premises with my family and I'm still a part of the small community there. If you come from afar, there's a charming bed and breakfast, and camping facilities provided by Leoni, the owner. From April and onward - there's also a yurt available for rent. Oh, and not to forget - there's a pizza night at the end of every workshop!
This recipe is made for baking in a regular modern electric or gas stove oven. Take in to account that every oven differs. Check your pizza and adjust baking time as needed. For a bbq pizza, place the pizza on a papered baking tray and place over the fire on a rooster. In an earth oven the baking time is 1 - 3 minutes.
Thin Crust Spelt Pizza with Beets & Chèvre
Makes 8 pizzas
whole grain spelt flour pizza crust
2 tsp dry active yeast (usually 1 sachet)
1 ¼ cups warm (not hot) water
3 ½ cups whole wheat grain
1 tbsp agave sugar or honey
¼ cup olive oil for baking
2 tsp fine salt
semolina flour for dusting (optional, use spelt flour if you prefer)
sugo, (see recipe below or get a jar of quality store bought organic sugo)
a bunch of arugula
200 gram chèvre (find the recipe for vegan chevre from this Rawesome Vegan life here)
1 raw beetroot, peeled and thinly sliced
½ tsp honey (or agave syrup for a vegan pizza) per pizza
1 red onion, sliced
2 handful pine nuts
a handful of thyme sprigs
a big handful of basil
a handful of hemp seeds (optional)
extra virgin olive oil
Best ever sugo
(Italian tomato sauce)
Makes a jar
3-4 tbsp olive oil for baking
ca 400 gram good quality tinned plum tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, crushed in 1 tsp fine salt
2 shallots, chopped
a handful of fresh basil, chopped
1-2 tbsp dried italian spice mix (oregano, basil, marjolein), optional
1 tsp agave syrup or honey
a pinch good ground fresh black pepper
salt to taste
the pizza dough
With a spoon mix the dry yeast with the warm (not hot) water together with the agave syrup in a small bowl. Let it rest for 10 minutes. The mixture should look a bit foamy.
In a mixing bowl, sieve the salt over the spelt whole grain flour and mix it well.
Mix in the yeast mix with the flour using dough hooks on slow speed, while slowly pouring in the olive oil and increasing the speed of the mixer until the dough is smooth and elastic (you can also mix and work the dough by hand).
Knead the dough for a few minutes by hand on a floured surface.
Put the oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and let it rest under a towel for 1 ½ hour.
Preheat the oven to 230 ℃
Tip: The dough will last for 3 days in the fridge wrapped in plastic film after resting.
Slowly fry the shallots on medium low heat in olive oil for a couple of minutes.
Add the plum tomatoes and garlic, stir and break up the tomatoes well.
Add agave syrup (or honey), basil and spices, sir and let it simmer for 5 -10 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
Keep your toppings close by.
Punch down the dough and place it on a flour dusted working surface.
Split the dough in 8 pieces and knead each piece lightly into a little ball.
Place a baking paper on your oven tray
Sprinkle a little semolina flour on the paper (optional). Form one pizza ball with a rolling pin into a round shape. The pizza base should be very thin - only a few millimeters.
Add 1-2 spoons sugo, swirl it on the surface of the pizza with a spoon. You can skip the sugo if you want to make a white pizza and in that case you sprinkle olive oil and a little salt instead of the sugo.
Add slices of beetroot, crumbles of chèvre (or spoons), 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme and pine nuts. Top with rucola and a few basil leaves.
Swirl a spoon of honey or agave over the betroot and chèvre.
Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt and pepper over everything.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Now this time can differ between ovens so you need to watch the pizzas so they don't burn and maybe add a few extra minutes to get a firm crust.
Remove from the oven and serve straight away.
Repeat step 5 and onwards with each ball of dough.
This beautiful oven is built by artisan baker and natural buildings teacher Christo Markham.