Around this time a year ago, we were stuffing our faces with freshly-baked, award-winning pizzas in a quirky little spot in Florence, Italy. It was David's birthday. We were joined by a couple of friends we just met at our Airbnb apartment, and we each ordered a pizza. For his birthday this year, we wanted pizza again and decided to whip some up in our kitchen. We made Neapolitan Pizza Margherita using einkorn flour, and it has a crispy-thin crust with minimal toppings in the colors of the Italian flag.
The secret to the success of this pizza is in the slow fermentation of the dough and the use of good quality ingredients. The recipe is adapted from the book Einkorn: Recipes for Nature's Original Wheat by Carla Bartolucci, the founder of Jovial Foods.
Baking with einkorn means working with a flour that's quite different from the wheat flour most of us are used to. This book offers a good introduction to einkorn, told from the angle of Carla's personal relationship with the ancient grain that led to her growing it near her home in Northern Italy and launching a company devoted to einkorn products. It also outlines the challenges of baking with einkorn flour and provides solutions to ensure successful outcomes with recipes that range from bread and cakes to pizza and pasta.
While baking with einkorn flour takes some getting used to, the results are rewarding and flavorful. Einkorn has a unique nutty taste and a subtle creamy quality about it, which really shows in simple recipes like this pizza.
We made a video of Italy! Click to watch.
Food in Italy as we remember it was all about wholesome fresh ingredients with a lot of emphasis on natural flavors. We can't help but reminisce about our time there, so David put together a video of the people, places and sights in Italy that captured our hearts. To this brilliant man, Buon Compleanno!
Einkorn Neapolitan Pizza Margherita
Adapted from Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat by Carla Bartolucci
Einkorn is purportedly the only wheat in existence that has never been hybridized, and has shown to be more tolerable than normal wheat for those with gluten sensitivity, as in the case of Carla's daughter. It has more protein and less starch than modern wheat, according to the book, which makes it behave differently in cooking, so baking with einkorn flour requires some practice. Apart from halving the ingredients, the only other adaptations I've made are reducing the salt, adding a tiny bit of sugar to the tomato mixture and putting more of the tomato mixture and basil in the topping. Makes three 9-inch pizzas.
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (148g) warm water, at 100° F
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups (570g) all-purpose einkorn flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Combine water and yeast in a large bowl and stir gently with a fork until the mixture turns cloudy. Add einkorn flour and sprinkle salt on top. Mix the dough with a spatula until there are no more dry bits. Then squeeze the dough with your hands until it holds together.
Generously flour a work surface and place the dough on top. Knead for 2 minutes until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky. Place the dough back in the bowl, wrap bowl tightly with plastic wrap and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to proof at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour and set aside. Divide the dough into 3 pieces by tearing it with your hands. Lightly flour a work surface and use it to roll each piece of dough into a tight ball. Place the dough balls on the baking sheet, making sure to leave some space between them, and cover tightly with oiled plastic wrap. Allow to proof at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 500° F. Place a baking sheet in the oven and let it preheat for 30 minutes.
1 1/2 cups canned/jarred crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 ounces vegan mozzarella cheese/ fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
30 pieces fresh basil leaves
Stir together tomatoes, oil, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Use your hands to stretch a ball of dough out to a 6-inch round. Generously dust a large piece of parchment paper with flour and place the dough on top. Flour the top and cover with another large piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 9-inch round. The pizza dough should be quite thin. Use your fingers to form a raised edge around the dough.
Gently transfer the dough onto the preheated baking sheet. Add 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture on top and spread it out evenly using the back of a spoon. Top with 2 ounces of cheese and about 10 pieces of basil leaves.
Bake the pizza for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and crispy. Repeat the above steps for the other 2 dough balls. Serve pizzas hot out of the oven. Buon appetito!