If you’ve never before baked with spelt flour, I encourage you to give it a try and make this Easy Spelt Focaccia. I love homemade bread (who doesn’t?) and this is one of the easiest ways in which to enjoy it.
Why we love this recipe:
Unlike a lot of bread recipes, this Spelt Focaccia does not require a great deal of technical knowledge and skill.
There are only about 15 minutes of hands-on time with this recipe. You don’t need to use your stand mixer with the dough hook, further, the dough does not require kneading.
It could not be simpler; you add all the dough ingredients to a bowl, stir with a wooden spoon for a minute or two and then set aside for about 5 hours for the dough to rise. Then, tip the dough into a baking tin and adorn with toppings of your choice.
Bake the dough in a hot oven; the aroma as the focaccia bakes is warm and comforting. You will know that something delicious will soon emerge from the oven. And, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have made it yourself.
Inspiration for this recipe:
Recently I have been keen to try some ancient grains and I have begun my journey with spelt flour. After several baking sessions, and much consumption of this delicious focaccia, I am confident that you will love this recipe.
Spelt is an ancient grain. According to Wikipedia, it has been cultivated since approximately 5,000 BC. Although related to wheat, it is not wheat. Although spelt belongs to the same genus as wheat, it is a different species.
One of the great advantages of spelt is that it hasn’t changed since Biblical times. I have been especially interested to try this grain as it has not been hybridised or genetically modified.
One of the characteristics of spelt makes it ideal to use for this Easy Spelt Focaccia. The gluten in spelt flour is more fragile; it is important to take care to not over-work or over-mix the dough.
The dough requires careful handling; vigorous kneading and mixing could result in a crumbly texture for the focaccia.
Therefore, it is this characteristic which I found inspiration to make this Focaccia. It is so easy; there is no kneading required. It doesn’t get easier than this.
Ingredients in this Recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
White Spelt Flour – As with wheat flour, spelt comes in two forms, white and wholegrain. I have used organic white spelt flour which is similar in appearance and texture to regular plain/all-purpose flour.
Instant dry yeast – You can add this yeast directly to the dry ingredients. It does not need to be activated first.
Water – I use filtered water as it is believed that chlorinated water may stop the growth of yeast or even stop it from working altogether.
Sugar – There’s a small amount of sugar to help activate the yeast.
Extra-virgin olive oil – This is an important ingredient in focaccia. It keeps the dough moist and adds to the texture as well as the flavour of the focaccia.
Salt – I use coarse sea salt in the dough and Maldon sea salt flakes to sprinkle on top of the dough just before baking.
Chilli flakes – Optional – only if you like a little heat.
Step by Step Instructions:
- To begin, line a brownie tin with non-stick baking paper, ensuring that the base and sides are well covered. I have found that the easiest way to do this is to dampen the paper, wring it out thoroughly, and press it into the tin.
- Then, combine the flour, yeast, water, sugar, olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Stir the mixture thoroughly with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are just incorporated. The mixture is quite damp.
- After covering the bowl with cling wrap, set the dough aside to prove for about 5 hours.
- The dough will double in size and appear very bubbly.
- After this time gently turn the dough into the prepared brownie tin and add your toppings. I have used cherry tomatoes, feta, fresh oregano, chilli flakes, olive oil and salt flakes. Further topping suggestions are listed below.
- After proving the dough for 30 minutes, place it in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. After a short rest out of the oven, you can enjoy the delicious focaccia.
Does Spelt Flour contain gluten?
I feel that this question needs immediate clarification. There has been some confusion as to whether or not spelt flour contains gluten. Some misleading articles have caused many people to believe that it did not. However, this is incorrect; spelt flour does contain gluten.
Spelt flour is sometimes recommended for people who are unable to tolerate wheat or are sensitive to gluten. However, I must emphasise that it is definitely not suitable for people with coeliac disease or many people with gluten intolerance.
The gluten in spelt flour differs from that in wheat in that it has a more delicate structure and is water-soluble. It may be this quality which makes it more easily digested and tolerated by some people who cannot normally consume gluten.
Also, it may be that we have had much less exposure to spelt and therefore are less likely to have developed an allergy or intolerance.
If you are looking for a gluten free focaccia recipe, try my Olive and Rosemary Focaccia.
What is Focaccia?
Focaccia is an oven-baked, yeasted, Italian flatbread. The name derives from the Latin panis focacius. According to Wikipedia, in Ancient Rome, panis focacius was flatbread which was baked on the hearth. The hearth was called the “focus”. Focaccia in Roman times was cooked in the ashes of a fire rather than above the fire.
It is thought that the ancient Etruscans developed the original recipe. However, focaccia these days is strongly connected with Ligurian cuisine.
Away from Liguria, from the north to the south of Italy, there are many regional variations. For instance, in the North-West, you may add fruit sometimes to make sweet focaccia. But traditionally, one of the most popular toppings is olive oil, rosemary and sea salt; olives are something you may also use.
Foccacia is a versatile bread. Enjoy it alone with a bowl of fruity, extra-virgin olive oil or with antipasti platters, a bowl of soup or with pasta.
Tips for Success and FAQs:
We have listed some tips and tricks below which will help you make the best Easy Spelt Focaccia.
Because the gluten in spelt flour is delicate, the dough must be handled gently. Kneading is not required as the dough must not be overworked. We stir it with a wooden spoon just until we incorporate all the ingredients.
Spelt bread tends to dry out a little faster than wheat bread so to avoid this, the dough is highly hydrated. It is more like a cake batter; I therefore pour it into the baking tin. The high moisture content means that the baked product is better for eating with greater keeping quality. That’s if you don’t eat it all at once!
What to do if your dough looks too wet:
The dough contains much more moisture than regular dough which you knead. The high moisture content means that the baked product is better for eating and has greater keeping quality.
As the dough is very soft, it does not readily hold its shape. To compensate, it is necessary to bake the focaccia in a tin to provide structure. It is essential that when turning the dough into the tin you do it gently. You don’t want to lose the pockets of air which have formed in the dough.
It is best fresh out of the oven, but leftovers can be re-heated or toasted within a few days of baking.
Some of our favourites include:
– A simple topping of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt flakes;
– Sliced mushrooms, onion and goat cheese;
– Feta, oregano and tomato (as we have done here);
– Olives and rosemary, like our Gluten-Free Focaccia.
You can, however, there are some considerations. Whole grain flour absorbs moisture so you will need to add more water than in the recipe. Further, the final bread will lack volume. Whole grain flour is heavier; the dough does not rise as much and the texture is quite dense. I prefer the texture and flavour of the white flour. However, if you are keen to try wholegrain I would recommend that you use 1 cup of each to lighten the mixture a little.
Yes, you can. However, you will need to activate it first. To do this, dissolve the yeast and the sugar in a little warm water. It must not be hot, or it may destroy the yeast. Set it aside for 10 minutes, or until it bubbles. Then, follow the rest of the recipe as listed.
For the most accurate measurements when baking, we suggest you weigh your ingredients.
If using cup measurements, use the spoon and level method. Firmly compacting the flour by scooping the cup into it can cause your measurements to be inaccurate.
Unless you are certain that your baking tin is really non-stick, I strongly recommend that you line it with non-stick baking paper. I tried an enamel baking dish one day and despite having added plenty of olive oil before tipping in the dough, I could not remove the focaccia cleanly from the tin.
When it comes to serving:
After removing your focaccia from the oven, allow it to cool on a rack for a few minutes or it will not cut well. For maximum enjoyment, serve your bread whilst it is still slightly warm. Whilst slightly warm the crust is crispy and the interior tender.
There are so many ways in which to enjoy it. One of my favourite ways to serve the spelt focaccia is simply, with good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil for dipping.
I love to serve it with bowls of soup, to accompany pasta or as part of an antipasti spread. I sometimes split the focaccia and fill it as I would a sandwich.
Serve the Spelt Focaccia with some of these delicious dishes:
- Potato Soup
- Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Shells
- Mediterranean Roasted Olives
- Eggplant Involtini
- Roasted Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad
There’s something very special about making your own bread; it is worthy of a special celebration but it is also fitting as a special treat for your family. Not only does the bread look and smell fabulous. It has a crispy crust and a tender, airy centre.
I encourage you to try this Easy Spelt Focaccia as I am certain that the result will delight you.
Please let me know in the comments below if you make it.
Easy Spelt Focaccia
For the dough:
- 2 cups (250g) white spelt flour See Note 1, 5 and 6
- 1 tsp instant dry yeast
- 1 cup (250ml) water at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil See Note 2
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, cubed
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Combine the flour, yeast, water, sugar, olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon just until all the ingredients are incorporated. The mixture will be quite damp, more like a cake batter.
- After covering the bowl with cling wrap, set the dough aside to prove for about 5 hours.
- The dough will double in size and appear very bubbly. The dough is now ready to use. (See Note 3.)
- Preheat your oven to 220 Degrees C (430 F).
- Line a 27cm x 18cm (11″ x 7″) brownie tin with non-stick baking paper, ensuring that the base and sides are well covered.I have found that the easiest way to do this is to dampen the paper, wring it out thoroughly, and press it into the tin. (See Note 4)
- Starting at one end of the brownie tin and moving the bowl toward the other end of the tin, gently tip the dough into the tin. Be careful to retain as many of the air bubbles as possible. The dough will slowly ease itself into the shape of the tin. If necessary, dampen your fingertips and gently ease the dough into the corners.
- Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top of the dough and add your toppings.Set the dough aside to prove for a further 30 minutes.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and the dough sounds hollow when the base is tapped.
- Cool slightly on a wire rack to keep the focaccia crisp. Serve whilst still warm.
- You will find spelt flour in supermarkets or health food stores. I have used organic for this recipe.
- In Australia, the tablespoon is 20 ml or 4 teaspoons. In many other countries, the tablespoon is 15 ml or 3 teaspoons. You may have to adjust your measurements accordingly.
- If you are not ready to use the dough you can place it in the fridge, ONCE it has doubled in size and is bubbly (ie: after the five hours proving). I have made one which had been in the fridge for three days and it was still delicious. Just bring it to room temperature before putting in the tin and baking. Be sure to allow 30 minutes of proving.
- To get the paper to sit flat, I dampen it slightly, wring it out tight and shake off excess moisture. It will then sit properly in the tin. As the dough is very damp, the brownie tin provides structure for the focaccia.
- For the most accurate measurements when baking, we suggest you weigh your ingredients.
- When measuring flour, use the spoon and level method. Firmly compacting the flour by scooping the cup into it can cause your measurements to be inaccurate.
- The serving size and nutritional information is based on the focaccia being cut into six and being enjoyed as a side dish.