Rustic Roasted Garlic Spelt Bread with Cheese

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The Bread of the Month for the Artisan Bread Bakers is a Rustic Roasted Garlic Bread.

My version is made with home-milled spelt flour and spelt sourdough so I named it Rustic Roasted Garlic Spelt Bread with Cheese.  It’s a mouthful in more ways than one.

Rustic Roasted Garlic Spelt Bread with Cheese


The original formula utilizes an overnight levain. I made the preferment using 100% hydration sourdough rather than a stiff sourdough and increased the amount of sourdough used.  To me the levain looks and feels like a biga, but I’ll stick with levain to make things easy.

This bread is fun to make and very tasty.  The garlic flavor really shines through and if you’re lucky, you get a delicious mouthful of cheese with each bite.  Most of the cheese ends up on top due to the way it’s incorporated into the dough, but I kind of liked it that way.


Rustic Roasted Garlic Spelt Bread

Adapted from Delia Fattoria’s Rustic Roasted Garlic Bread as shared by David Durr on the Artisan Bread Bakers FB Group

Yield: Two 500-gram loaves


Ingredient Weight Bakers %
Sourdough starter, 100% hydration, refreshed 8 hours before * 25 g 42%
Water, lukewarm 35 g 58%
Whole grain Spelt, sifted once 30 g 50%
Whole grain Spelt flour 30 g 50%  
Total weight 113 g  

* I used my spelt sourdough starter because I wanted the bread to be made completely with spelt and no additional white flour. However, you can use any sourdough starter for this bread.


Ingredient Weight Bakers %
Sifted whole grain Spelt 500 g 100 %
Water, warm 390 g 78 %
Salt 8 g 2 %
Levain 113 g 23 %
Total weight 1018 g  


Ingredient Weight/Amount
Roasted Garlic purée 1 head of garlic**
Asiago cheese, grated 60 g
Garlic cloves, unpeeled 2
Beautiful sprigs flat-leaf parsley/cilantro/celery 6 to 8

** Roast the garlic @ 325 degrees F., let it cool down, then purée it. 



Feel free to adjust the following schedule to suit your needs.

  • Friday morning:  Feed sourdough starter and let it ripen for 8 hours.
  • Friday evening: Form the biga and let it rest overnight at room temperature.
  • Saturday afternoon or evening: Prepare the dough and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Sunday afternoon: Shape, proof and bake the loaves.



1) Feed the sourdough starter 

8 hours before you start this process, feed your starter so that it’s ripe (fermented) and ready to be used. I generally feed my starter equal amounts of water and flour so that it remains 100% hydration.

2) Prepare the preferment

Start the levain the evening before you make the dough. Mix the water and flour together and knead it gently for a minute or so to incorporate it thoroughly. Cover the levain and let it rest on the counter at room temperature for 12 – 16 hours.


The temperature in my kitchen was about 62 degrees F. overnight so I let it rest the full 16 hours.  If your kitchen is warner, it probably won’t take as long.


3) Mix the dough and bulk ferment

To prepare the dough, dissolve the levain with the water. Then mix in the flour using your hands or a Danish dough whisk. If you’re using spelt flour, be careful not to over mix it. I started out using the Danish dough whisk, then I used the fold-and-turn method in the bowl until it was completely combined.


Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, then add in the salt. Mix until it is thoroughly incorporated, about 5 minutes more. The dough will be very soft and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and put it in a warm spot, about 75 degrees F.  Fold-and-turn the dough 4 times at 30-minute intervals, that is, after 30, 60, and 90, 120 minutes of fermenting. Then cover the bowl of dough tightly, and place it the refrigerator overnight.



4) Remove dough from refrigerator:

The next afternoon or evening, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up to room temperature for about 1.5 hours, or until the dough has almost doubled in size.



5) Divide and shape the loaves

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and cut it in half. Lightly round the pieces and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the rounds rest for 20 minutes.


While the dough pieces are resting, pick out a few prigs of celery leaves (or cilantro or Italian flat-leaf parsley), grate the cheese, mash the roasted garlic into a purée and season it with freshly cracked pepper and a pinch of salt. Divide the purée and cheese into 2 equal portions and dust to 2 linen-lined proofing basket with rice flour.


Place one of the dough rounds seam side down, flatten it a little, keeping the middle very thick. Smear the garlic purée in the center of the dough, then sprinkle the cheese, and pull the dough up around to form a pleated pouch. Turn the dough over and round it tightly but gently keeping the filling in the center.

Using the tip of a sharp knife, make a small cut in the center of the top of the dough and twist 1 garlic clove into the cut about 1/3 of the way into the dough. Arrange 4 or 5 celery leaves around the garlic and pat them down. Repeat the process with the other dough round.

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6) Proof the loaves

Sprinkle a little flour over the shaped breads to cover the decorations; it provides protection to the herbs from the oven heat.

Place the loaves, decorated side down, in the prepared banneton baskets. Cover the proofing baskets with a kitchen towel and place them in a warm spot.  Allow the loaves to proof for 3-4 hours, or until they are airy and quite expanded.

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7) Prepare the oven for hearth baking

About an hour before you are ready to bake the loaves, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. with a baking stone on the bottom rack and a iron skillet or steam pan on the top rack.

Gently turn the loaves out of the baskets onto parchment paper. Slash the top of each loaf by cutting semi-circles about an inch from the loaf’s perimeter.

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8) Bake the loaves

Slide the loaves (on the parchment) onto the hot baking stone.  Quickly and carefully add 3 or 4 ice cubes to the iron skillet or steam pan and spritz the walls with water using a spray bottle.  Repeat the spray process 3 times during the first 5 minutes of baking. Immediately, turn the oven down to 425 degrees F.  Remove the parchment, rotate the loaves 180 degrees, and continue to bake for another 20 -25 minutes or until the loaves turn dark brown.

9) Cool loaves

Remove the loaves from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

10) Slice and enjoy!

When I removed the baked loaves from the oven, I thought about what Lionel Vatinet mentioned in his workshop at the Artisan Bread Festival this past Spring. He encouraged us not to get frustrated if our bread didn’t turn out perfectly each time. He said, “just call it rustic, and say it’s supposed to be that way.”

Rustic Roasted Garlic Spelt Bread with Cheese

These loaves make look rustic, but they taste great so it doesn’t matter what they look like, right?

Thanks to David for sharing this delicious bread with the Artisan Bread Bakers.


Happy Baking!


Sourdough Pretzel Croissants

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The October challenge for the Sourdough Surprises Baking Group is croissants.  I made pretzel croissants with yeast earlier this year and enjoyed them so much I decided to adapt that recipe to use sourdough instead of yeast.

Sourdough Pretzel Croissants

The timing of this challenge worked out really well. My oldest son came in town this past weekend. He loves rolls so I wanted to make sure these were ready while he was here. I started the process Friday morning before work and completed the croissants Sunday afternoon. 

I was pleased with the entire process. The last time I made the yeasted version of these croissants, I was a bit grumpy and rushed. This time, I was calm, relaxed and totally in control of these croissants and they performed beautifully.

My son and his girlfriend really enjoyed the rolls. They both said they tasted like pretzels.  This was before I even mentioned that they were in fact, pretzel croissants. 

Sourdough Pretzel Croissants

When you review the time required to make these croissants, three days may seem daunting, but it’s really not. I was able to fit these croissants in my schedule even though I was gone for several hours on Saturday.  If I can do this, you can too!

Using the sourdough starter made the dough fairly stiff, but that worked out really well.  It didn’t tear during the whole process and it didn’t negative affect the final result.  In fact, I think the sourdough enhanced the rolls. These croissants are buttery, flaky, light and crispy and just right in my opinion.


Sourdough Pretzel Croissants

yield: 1 dozen

Adapted from Pretzel Making at Home by Andrea Slonecker

Total time: 24 - 72 hours

Notes about timing:

  • The dough takes from 24-48 hours from start to the time you bake the croissants. 
  • The butter block should be formed sometime while the dough is rising.
  • The baked baking soda needs 1 hour in the oven. It can be prepared the final day or whenever is convenient.

I started the process Friday morning before work and finished baking the rolls Sunday afternoon. Feel free to adjust the following schedule to suit your needs.


  • Morning 1st day: Feed sourdough starter.
  • Evening 1st day: Prepare the dough and place in refrigerator until next afternoon (18 hours).
  • Morning 2nd day: Make the butter block and place in refrigerator for several hours until ready to roll out dough.
  • Afternoon 2nd day: Prepare the baked baking soda. Complete 3 turns and place dough in refrigerator overnight.*
  • Afternoon 3rd day: Roll out, shape and bake croissants.

* Alternately, on Day 2, complete 3 turns, place dough in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and then continue to the shaping and baking phase instead of placing dough in refrigerator overnight.


  • 1 cup mature sourdough starter, recently fed
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) lukewarm milk (~110° F)
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar (golden or dark)
  • 410 g (3-1/4 cups) unbleached AP flour + more for sprinkling
  • 2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 ounce (2 T) unsalted butter, cubed, cold
  • 2-3 tablespoons warm water, if necessary

Butter block:

  • 340 g (12 ounces / 24 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour


  • 60 grams (1/4 cup) baked baking soda **
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
  • coarse salt
  • sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds, optional

** Baked baking soda is an alternative to working with lye that still lends pretzels their dark, burnished crust. To make the baked baking soda, spread 1/4 cup (~70 grams) of baking soda out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or foil (or in a pie pan). It will decrease in weight, but shouldn't decrease in volume. Slide it into an oven that has been preheated to 250° F/120° C and bake for 1 hour. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Day 1 (Morning): Feed your sourdough

I fed my starter using the method outlined in this post.

Day 1 (Evening): Prepare the dough

Whisk the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour mixture, breaking it up into tiny flour-coated pieces the size of breadcrumbs. Stir in the sourdough culture and milk using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to form a shaggy mass.

Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and knead eight to ten times, until all of the flour is just incorporated. You don't want to over work it, because you don't want the butter to melt too much. The dough will not be a smooth mass; you will see some flecks of butter. It should be soft and tacky, but not sticky. Adjust as needed with flour or water.

Place the dough in a large, clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours (24 will give you the best flavor).


Day 2 (Morning): Make the butter block

Knead the butter and flour together using your hands until it forms a smooth mass. This will take a couple of minutes.  The butter should be pliable. You can use a stand mixer, but make sure you don’t beat any air into the butter or melt it.

Spread the butter between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap (or parchment or wax paper), and use a rolling pin to shape into a rectangle that is about 8"x9". Use a straight edge to form corners, but work quickly as you want the butter to stay cool. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until you're ready to roll out the dough.


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Day 2 (Afternoon):

1st turn:
Scatter a little bit of flour on your work surface, then turn the dough out onto it. Roll it out into a rectangle that is 10" by 15" and about 1/4" thick. Using your hands, gently pull and stretch the dough to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush excess flour off of the dough. Set the dough with a long edge facing you.

Mentally divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Place the butter block over the right 2/3 of the dough, leaving a 1" border on the outer edges. Fold the empty left portion of the dough over the middle third. Now, lift and fold the right section of dough over that. You should have 3 layers of dough that encase 2 layers of butter. Pinch the outsides and the seams together and lightly press the layers together using a rolling pin. This completes the first turn. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

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2nd turn:
Remove the dough from the fridge and set it on your lightly floured work surface. Roll dough out into a 10" by 20" rectangle, pulling and stretching to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush off any excess flour. Set the dough with a long edge facing you. Fold both of the short ends in to the center, leaving a 1/4" gap where they meet (think of a book jacket). Fold one side of the dough over the other. Lightly press the layers together using a rolling pin, and square and sharpen the edges and corners. This completes the second turn. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

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3rd (and final) turn:
Lightly dust your work surface and the top of the dough with flour. Roll dough out into a 10" by 15" rectangle. Do another trifold, as done in the first turn (mentally divide into thirds, then fold one third over the center, followed by the last third). Square the edges and sharpen the sides; wipe off excess flour. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but up to another 24 hours.

Make ahead and freeze dough for later: If you want to save the dough for later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, slide it into a freezer baggie, and freeze for up to 1 week. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding to final shaping.


3rd Day (Afternoon) Final shaping:

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Lightly dust your work surface and top of your dough with flour. Roll out into a 15" by 18" rectangle that is ~1/4" thick. Pull and stretch to form straight edges and sharp corners. Patch any holes where butter may have popped through by dusting them with flour.  Brush any excess flour off the dough.

(Note: This is one of those times you should do what I say in the instructions and not what I did (per the photos). As in, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. I didn’t use rimmed baking sheets and that was a mistake. I had a big mess in the oven and smoke all over the house due to all of the butter. Not sure what I was thinking when I used my regular baking sheets so trust me on this one.)

Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, creating two 15" by 9" sheets of dough. Using a pizza cutter or bench scraper, cut each piece of dough into three equal strips, the short way. Then cut each strip in half diagonally, so that you left with 6 triangles. Repeat with other piece of dough.

Beginning at the base, roll the triangles up, tugging on the tip to elongate it slightly, then gently pressing it into the dough. Place on the prepared baking sheets with the tips tucked under, and curve the ends to form crescent shapes.

Cover the croissants with damp, clean kitchen towels and allow to rise at cool room temperature until they have almost doubled in size and feel spongy, ~2 hours.


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Slide the croissants into the refrigerator for 20 minutes while you prepare the dipping solution. Preheat oven to 425° F, positioning one rack in the upper third of the oven, and one in the lower third.


Prepare the dipping solution:

Add the baked baking soda in 8 cups of cold water and stir until completely dissolved. One by one, dip the croissant dough into the dipping solution, allow the excess to drip off, then set back on the lined trays.

Finish them off :

Brush the tops with the egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse salt and sesame seeds or poppy seeds, if using.

Sourdough Pretzel Croissants Sourdough Pretzel Croissants


Slide into preheated oven immediately and bake for 14-18 minutes (rotating pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through), until they are deeply browned, crispy, and flaky. They should feel light and airy if you pick them up.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving. They are best enjoyed the day they are made, ideally warm from the oven. Store any extras in a paper bag for a day. You can reheat them by placing them in a 350° F oven for ~5 minutes.

Sourdough Pretzel Croissants


I really like this method and timing. I was able to fit it perfectly with my schedule and have the croissants ready when my son was home.  This way, I made sure I didn’t eat them all myself.

Happy Baking!



Einkorn Bread Stuffed w/ Caramelized Onions, Herbs & Cheese

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It’s been awhile since I’ve baked with Einkorn. When I experimented with a couple of breads recently, they didn’t turn out so I put the flour aside and started working with different types of flour.

I didn’t want to forget the lessons I learned in Tuscany about using Einkorn so I got it back out and used it to make this Caramelized Onion, Herb and Cheese Braid. 

Einkorn Bread with Caramelized Onions, Herbs & Cheese

Einkorn is weaker than bread flour so the shaping of the braid is not as tight or defined as you might get with white flour. Plus, the fact that I kind of goofed when I overlapped the braids didn’t help matters. Even so, I’m very pleased with the way it turned out and that it turned out at all.  The flavor and texture are wonderful.

This mock braided-bread is the bread of the month for the Bread Baking Babes (or BBBs). Katie, of Thyme for Cooking chose this one. I knew it was going to be good when I looked at the ingredients in the filling: Dijon mustard, rosemary, sugar, asiago cheese and red onions.  Divine!

My kitchen smelled heavenly while I was sautéing the caramelized onions. I love the smell of rosemary and when you combine it with sugar and red onions, it imparts a delicious and sweet aroma. I could’ve eaten the cooked onions without putting them in the bread, but I didn’t. I did test them, but I refrained from devouring them before the dough was ready.


Einkorn Bread Stuffed with Caramelized Onions, Herbs & Cheese

Total time: 3 hours



  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 2-3 T olive oil, plus additional for greasing bowl *
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups AP Einkorn flour, plus add’l for sprinkling*
  • 1 cup whole grain Einkorn pastry flour *
  • 3/4 tsp.  salt
  • 1 –2 tsp. Herbes de Provence

* If you use regular all-purpose flour, you probably won’t need as much flour. When baking with Einkorn, you either need to decrease the amount of water or increase the flour.  I increased the amount of flour and reduced the amount of oil used. 


  • 1 1/2 tsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, chopped (~ 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon-style mustard, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 large egg white, beaten



  • In large bowl, dissolve sugar in water.
  • Sprinkle in yeast; let stand for 10 minutes or until frothy.
  • Whisk in milk, egg, egg yolk, oil, Herbes and salt.
  • Add the Einkorn pastry flour and half of the all-purpose Einkorn flour and stir to make soft dough.
  • Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead for 5-10 minutes, adding enough of the remaining flour to make dough smooth and elastic.
  • Place in oiled bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.




  • Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat butter with oil over medium heat.
  • Add onions and sugar and cook until tender.
  • Reduce heat, add rosemary and continue to cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes longer.
  • Let cool to room temperature.



To shape:

  • Grease baking sheet or line with parchment paper; punch down dough.
  • Turn out onto lightly floured surface.
  • Roll out into 12- x 11-inch (30 x 27 cm) rectangle.
  • Transfer to prepared pan.
  • Spread mustard lengthwise in 3-inch (8 cm) strip down center of rectangle.
  • Top with onion mixture.
  • Sprinkle with 3/4 of the cheese.
  • Using sharp knife and starting at 1 corner of dough, make diagonal cuts 1 inch apart almost to filling to form strips along 1 long side of dough. Repeat on other side, cutting diagonal strips in opposite direction.
  • Alternating strips from each side, fold strips over filling to resemble braid, overlapping ends by 1 inch and brushing with some of the egg (or egg white) to seal.
  • Cover with towel; let rise in warm place for 30 to 40 minutes or until doubled in bulk.



My overlapping strips were longer than they needed to be because the Einkorn was really soft and stretchy which made it a bit tricky to work with.  I’m glad I used Einkorn because the flavor of the bread is great!


To bake:

  • Brush top with egg (or egg white).**
  • Bake in center of 350°F (180°C) oven for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese down center of braid; return to oven for 5 minutes.
  • Serve warm or let cool completely on rack. (Make-ahead: Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day; rewarm in oven before serving.).

** I didn’t want to waste the leftover egg white so I used it instead of getting another egg. If you want a darker crust, feel free to use a whole egg for the egg wash.

Einkorn Bread with Caramelized Onions, Herbs & Cheese


I really liked this bread.  The flavor of the onions and the bread are wonderful. My son liked it as well.


Check out the breads from the other creative Babes:

The Bread Baking Babes (current dozen) are:

Would you like to be a Bread Baking Buddy? Here’s how:

Make the Caramelized, Onion & Cheese Stuffed Bread, then email your link to Katie, the kitchen of the month (or email your photo and a bit about your experience if you don't have a blog).  Refer to Katie’s post for the details. Submissions are due by October 29th.  Once you've posted, you'll receive a Buddy badge for baking along, then watch for a roundup of all of the BBBuddies posts a few days after the close of submissions.

I hope you'll join us this month!


Happy Baking!


Pizza Napoletana-Style Pizza Dough

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October is Pizza Month!  I adore pizza so whenever I get the chance to celebrate it, I’m there. 

I made Pizza Napoletana during the BBA Challenge several years ago, and I really liked it. I decided to revisit this dough to see if my pizza-making skills have improved.

Pizza Napoletana for Pizza Month

Even though this pizza is adapted from one of Peter Reinhart’s formulas, it was Jeffrey Hammelman (Bread Baker extraordinaire at KAF) that inspired me to make it. I watched a video recently of his keynote address at the Grain Gathering Conference.  Unfortunately, I missed the conference so I was delighted to be able to listen to a replay of his presentation.

During his speech, he mentioned that he participated in a session on making pizza. He said he knew he would have trouble shaping it.  Jeffrey Hammelman is such an awesome baker that I found that hard to believe, but I guess that goes to show that we all have our comfort zones.

He also mentioned that anyone that claims they are a self-taught baker is missing out on something.  We all need mentors. 

This made me think about all of the mentors I’ve had so far in my bread-baking journey.  I would have to say that Peter Reinhart was my first artisan bread-baking mentor.  I learned so much when I participated in the BBA Challenge and baked through his book “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”.  I’ve also attended sessions with him at the Asheville Bread Festival.

So with motivation from two of my bread-baking mentors – Jeffrey Hammelman and Peter Reinhart – I set out to make pizza Napoletana again and acquire more practice shaping this dough.



I started with the basic formula and adjusted it to accommodate the amount of flour I wanted to use.  I used a mixture of white bread flour and whole grain Spelt flour.

According to Peter Reinhart, you can use up to 10% whole wheat flour in the dough so that’s what I did.  He used high-gluten flour in his formula, but I used all-purpose and whole grain Spelt. He added oil because it makes the high-gluten flour easier to work with.  Since I used all-purpose flour, I omitted the oil.  I did try his method of using cold flour and ice cold water to mix the dough. It worked really well.

The dough was good the last time I made this pizza, but this time it was even better.  The addition of 10% Spelt flour and letting the dough retard in the refrigerator for 12 – 15 hours really improves the flavor.


Pizza Napoletana-Style Dough

Adapted from: Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Makes: Three 285 grams (9.65-oz.) pizza balls or 4 smaller balls

Pizza Napoletana for Pizza Month


  • All-purpose flour 90%
  • Whole grain Spelt flour 10%
  • Salt 1.6%
  • Yeast .002
  • Water 70%

I started with 500 grams of flour and calculated the other ingredients as a percentage of the flour. I increased the hydration and decreased the amount of salt and yeast from the original formula.

  • 450 grams all-purpose flour *
  • 50 grams whole grain Spelt flour *
  • 8 grams salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 350 grams ice cold water *

* It is recommended that you use ice cold water (chilled at 40 degrees F.) and place the flour in the refrigerator for at least one hour before you plan to make the pizza dough.  I tried it this way and liked the results. It definitely improves the dough.

Prepare the Pizza Dough:

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flours, salt and yeast. Using a Danish dough whisk, or a large metal spoon, mix in the cold water until all of the flour is absorbed.

Dip the dough whisk, spoon, or your hand into cold water and work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass.  Rotate the bowl in a circular motion using your other hand.  Then reverse the motion. This will help develop the gluten. Work the dough in this manner for 5 to 7 minutes, or until you create a smooth, sticky dough.

Transfer the dough to a counter sprinkled with flour.



Line a baking sheet with oiled parchment paper.  Divide the dough into 3 (or more) pieces using a metal dough scraper.  If necessary, dip the scraper in cold water in between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it. 

Sprinkle flour over the dough pieces. Flour your hands if necessary.  Lift each piece and gently shape them into balls. Transfer the dough balls to the greased parchment paper.  Spray the balls with oil and cover with plastic wrap or slip into a food-grade plastic bag.

Place the pan of dough balls in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 3 days.



Next day or Bake Day:

On the day you want to make the pizza, remove the dough balls from the refrigerator.  Dust the counter with flour.  Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour.  Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter.

Sprinkle the dough again with flour, cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag and let rest for 2 hours.


Prepare the oven for baking

45 minutes before you plan to bake the pizza, place a baking stone on the lowest rack of the oven.  Preheat the oven as hot as possible (550 degrees, if possible). If you don't have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but don't preheat the pan.

Shaping the Pizzas

If you are good at using a pizza peel (which I’m not yet), generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal.  Or, sprinkle parchment paper with cornmeal.

Make the pizzas one at a time. 

Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift 1 piece of dough by getting under it with a dough scraper.

Carefully lay the dough across your fists and stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands.  Gently give it a little stretch with each turn and bounce.  If the dough sticks to your hands, lay it down and reflour your hands.  Continue this shaping method until the dough has expanded outward.  If the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes to relax the gluten, then try again.

Then you’re supposed to move to a full toss. I haven’t perfected the toss yet so I just spread it out on the parchment paper after stretching it with my fists.  I’m still unable to make a complete fist (due to my recent surgery), but I was able to do the stretching with my fists so I was very pleased about that.  Now I just have to work on my peel skills (that is, getting the dough not to stick to the peel) and learn how to toss the dough.  I think smaller dough balls might be easier to work with so next time I might try that.


Pizza Napoletana Dough for Pizza Month


When you've stretched the dough enough (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter), lay it on the peel, or place it on parchment sprinkled with cornmeal then transfer the whole thing to a peel or the back of a baking sheet. 

Lightly top the pizza with sauce and your favorite toppings.  Remember, less is more so don’t overload it like I’ve been known to do.

Pizza Napoletana for Pizza Month

Slide the pizza (on the parchment paper) onto the preheated baking stone and close the door.  Wait 2 minutes, then take a peak to make sure it is baking evenly.  If necessary, you can rotate the pizza for even baking. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake.

Remove the parchment paper partway through the bake cycle to firm up the crust on the bottom of the pizza.


Pizza Napoletana for Pizza Month

Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board.  Wait about 3 to 5 minutes before you slice and serve this deliciousness.  This allows the cheese to set a little bit.



Happy Pizza Month!


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