Author Topic: Spelt (Farro) pizza flour  (Read 9662 times)

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Offline mrbthree

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Spelt (Farro) pizza flour
« on: December 14, 2006, 07:26:08 PM »
Does anyone have experience using Spelt (Italian: "Farro") flour for pizza?
As I understand it, this is the type of flour used in Italy for pizzas before the introduction our
"modern" wheat flours.
From what I can glean, Farro is still highly regarded in Italy.
Thanks, mrbthree

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Spelt (Farro) pizza flour
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2006, 08:09:10 AM »
Farro was used by the romans.. not for pizza but for un-leavened flat breads..... It is still higly regarded indeed, but not as flour... is cooked whole in soup.


PS I make a kind of gnocchi using that flour which I dress with  a special pesto from amalfi.

Offline mrbthree

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Re: Spelt (Farro) pizza flour
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2006, 01:11:37 PM »
Dear Marci,
Thank you for your input. It prompted me to do a little further research.
Here's an article I just found this morning.


It appears that what we call Spelt grown in America is not the same thing as Italian Farro. Sorry, my error. In my defense, there is a body of information that does talk about Spelt and Farro being one in the same grain, which led to my misunderstanding about the two.
I will offer that I have had some very satisfactory results making pizza from Spelt flour, although I would not recommend it for any style pizza dough that requires a high-gluten flour. This flour has a quality more akin to an Italian 00 type flour. It has a sweet backround very similar to the taste found in flour made from White Hard Winter Wheat, especially that grown in Kansas and the midwestern grain belt. Canadian grown White Hard wheat seems to have a different quality; I think it may be a spring wheat.
At any rate, I thought it was worth posting this article link, just to clarify this small subject. It certainly was a revealation to me to learn that Spelt and Farro are not the same grain.
It is intersting to learn that you use Farro for a type of pasta. It never would have occured to me to use it for something that I would only have considered using semolina flour for. I imagine your Farro gnocchi has a very delicate quality; not at all toothsome as a semolina based gnocci might be.

Cheers, gs

Offline Finnegans Wake

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Re: Spelt (Farro) pizza flour
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2008, 11:43:02 AM »
Been a while since I've posted here (~a year?).  Had some Ischia and Camaldoli starters that went belly up, and just waited on starting the pizza making up again until a few weeks ago.  Got new starters and was ready to take up where I left off.  Had been using high gluten bread flour (50# bag), but found its texture a bit too tough.  I wanted to soften it up some, and maybe use something more healthful.  Got a bag of Bob's spelt to experiment with. 

So, using Camadoli, I started some bread dough and pizza dough.  A few notes: had previously activated refrigerator starters with 1 c. flour and 3/4 c. warm water, but this time gave a second feeding.  That was a good step, as the starter was much more active; happy, even. 

Also, had used Ed Wood's and Peter Reinhart's basic recipes, and had followed Wood's the last few times, but (alas!) always using volume measures.  This time I was armed with the digital scale from a recent foray into dieting.  He called for 7 c. flour to 1.5 c. starter and, IIRC, 1 c. water and 2 t. salt.  I wanted to shoot for a 60% hydration, and also wanted to only add half the flour to the autolyse, and half when the (new, Artisan) mixer was kneading.  Last time, felt the dough was a bit much for the mixer all at once.

Again, from the top of my head, I recall adding 3 c. flour (151, 150, and 144 g., so fairly consistent).  Mixed that with the starter and water, and reserved the salt for the kneading.  Let sit 30 minutes.  I decided to swap out 2 c. of flour for 2 c. of spelt, as previously I had used wheat flour for up to half of the white with poor results.  The spelt was noticably lighter.  You could feel it with your fingers.  And a heaping cup of spelt, really mounded, weighed in at ~130 g.  I added one more cup of flour for the magical 60%, or close to it: figured that would go down a little with flour for processing the wet dough.  Always need a little on the board and surface of the dough or it's too sticky to do anything with.

Kneaded for ~8-10 min. on low (4/10), and could see the dough windowpaning.  Overnight for about 24 hours at low 60F in the kitchen, as we like the ambient temp a bit cool.  Dough doubled nicely, and I peeled back the Saran to have a peek: the film stuck to the dough at a spot, and instead of falling, it just sort of sighed.  Weirdest thing.  Kind of fell, then bubbled right back up again.  Anyway, the dough LOOKED happy. 

Usually like to refrigerate the doughballs at least 3 or 4 days for max souring, but the missus wanted some pie last night, so 1 day only.  Preheated the oven (gas, pizza stone, heat at 550F for an hour, then blast with broiler, usually get 600F-650F), and took the balls out to warm.  One of the springiest doughs I've ever had.  It had a wonderful look to it.

The bread, BTW, was about a 70% hydration, a bit flat and free-form, but nice rise, nice crumb, a good balance of white and spelt.  Missus said it was my best yet.  High hopes, then, for the spelt crust.

Made two pies about 10-12", his and hers.  Probably 1/8" thin except the edge, which puffed brilliantly.  Kept the broiler on for a minute each after the pies went in, for extra crust browning.  Came out excellent, both pies.  Again, an excellent crumb.  And I think the spelt "mellows" the bread flour, maybe sort of like a Caputo/bread flour mix might?  Also worth noting that I used a cup less flour than the previous incarnations, about 14.3% less, and with the spelt that might have translated to ~ 1/2 c. less by volume, but 14.3% less (150 g.) by weight.  Which is substantial. 

Used very little home-canned marinara, a little Polly-O mozz, and a shave of nice Parm.  Added butterflied shrimp to hers.  One of the better efforts.  Anyhow, the spelt is worth a try.  Would like to experiment with it and other grains more.
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. --
Mark Twain