Einkorn— Ancient Grain for Sourdough Bread

Einkorn— Ancient Grain for Sourdough Bread

Einkorn flour is certainly no stranger in my kitchen. I grind it fresh and use it in nearly every loaf of bread I bake. As the whole-wheat component for all artisan sourdough, I like the deeper, nuttier flavor it adds; but 100% einkorn sourdough is a whole other matter.

Einkorn four has good gluten

Because einkorn’s gluten is different than modern wheat, the dough does not handle the same as other wheat flour. It usually makes a wet and hard to manage dough. Kneading does it little good, as it tears apart rather than build the gluten strands we are familiar with in bread making. For that reason, many bakers add bread (strong) flour or vital gluten, both of which can ruin the value of this bread for those who are gluten-intolerantBecause water absorption with this grain is quite different, I suggest cutting water back to about 65% hydration during your learning curve; you can always add a bit more.

Baking Einkorn Bread

The third time for me was the charm in making Einkorn bread

For this post, it took three tries before I was able to get the artisan look I was after.

Don’t get me wrong, each loaf tasted great, but they didn’t look good enough to serve or to give away to someone else.

But the third time was the charm. Well, at least it was for me.

Jovial’s 100% Organic Einkorn all-purpose flour is available in the USA through Amazon

When I began making sourdough bread, I was always on the lookout for lower gluten counts. That is when I found an Italian (Jovial) source of einkorn flour.

The flour was superb, but it was milled in Italy and then shipped here. I figured that it could hardly have the same food value as freshly ground grain. And since it was expensive, I never tried making a 100% einkorn loaf from their flour—just a 50/50 mix, which was great. 

I have since switched to buying whole-grain einkorn from Ancient Grains in Teton, Idaho. I mill it fresh and with 50 pounds of einkorn in storage, I figured that I had enough to do a few kitchen experiments.

  1. For my first try, I just used our basic Country Loaf recipe with 100% einkorn freshly ground. This recipe calls for two cups of water and four cups of flour. The hydration was so high and the dough so overworked from my stand mixer, that I had to dump it into a bread pan to bake. It was dense, but toasted well and tasted great. Still, it wasn’t up to my standard.
  2. Then I found a recipe from Jovial’s cookbook, but I still ended up with too much water. The mix was a mess and I did not understand the tender nature of this flour so I overworked it again.  I had to pour this dough into a bread tin once again. It was still great as a sandwich loaf, but I could not have shaped this and baked it as a boule.
  3. Then I came across this recipe at The Perfect Loaf and baked… well, the perfect loaf.

Einkorn Sourdough Bread Recipe

Adapted from Maurizio at The Perfect Loaf/70% Hydration

Ingredients

Instructions

Einkorn Sourdough Levain

  • ¼ cup (39 g) mature starter
  • 1 Tbl+¼ tsp (17 g) water
  • ¼ heaping cup (39 g) einkorn flour

Build the Levain

  1. At least three hours before you will be making the bread, combine all levain ingredients.
  2. Mix well and allow to rest at room temperature of 77°F – 80°F (25°C – 27°C).

“In testing this formula, [Maurizio] found the best performance, taste, and timetable when using a stiff einkorn levain. Even though the flour I’m using is sifted (all-purpose) and not whole grain, this dough can quickly overproof at warmer temperatures. To offset this I found myself gravitating to a stiff levain at a very low pre-fermented flour percentage. Mostly, I treated this all-purpose flour as I would whole grain.”—The Perfect Loaf.

 

Dough

  • ¼ cup (49 g) active einkorn sourdough starter 
  • 1 ⅓ cups (340 g) warm water, at 100°F (38°C)
  • 4 cups (480 g) einkorn flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1½ tsp (8.5 g) Real salt
  • (optional:
    1 tsp [3 g ] Diastatic malt powder)
    I took the option to not use the malt

Einkorn Sourdough

  1. Mix the flour, malt powder (if using it), and all but ½ cup (150 g) of warm water.
  2. Allow a short autolyse to give the flour time to hydrate.
    Normally I begin my autolyse at the same I build the levain. But Maurizio said that in his experiments:
    varying autolyse times between 15 minutes and 1 hour [didn’t make] any significant improvement to extensibility or improved mixing.
  3. During the autolyse, add the salt to ¼ cup (75 g) water to allow this to dissolve.
  4. Following the autolyse, break the levain into pieces over the top of the autolysed mix, pour over the saltwater, and mix by hand, or with a Danish dough whisk, until well combined. Maurizio warns,
    The mix will be very wet and almost look like it won’t hold together.
    But there will still be ¼ cup (75 g) water left if you feel like your mix can handle it.
  5. Perform stretch and folds in the bowl to add strength to the dough for about 5 minutes.  In 15 minutes, repeat this one more time. Then three more times every 30 minutes.
  6. After the last set of folds, let the dough rest for three and a half hours for bulk fermentation.
  7. Note, this dough will not normally have risen as much as other sourdough. Flour your counter and hands well and pre-shape the dough.
  8. Let it bench rest for 15–30 minutes, but if it begins to spread move to the next step.
  9. Again, generously flour your hands and your counter and shape the dough. Maurizio recommends,
    If the dough needs more tension, slightly rotate the mass and continue to drag down with both hands. Repeat as necessary. Using your bench knife invert the round into a proofing basket liberally dusted with white rice flour. To encourage maximum rise the next day, be sure to shape each round tightly. “
  10. Allow the dough to proof, covered in the fridge for 12–16 hours.
  11. Before baking, preheat your oven for one hour at 500°F (260°C). Be sure the stone, dutch oven or other pot is preheated too.
  12. Take the dough from the fridge while the oven preheats, to come up to room temperature
  13. Turn out the dough from the proofing basket onto parchment paper.
  14. Score the dough and place it into your preheated pot and into the oven.
  15. Turn the oven down to 450°F (232°C) and cover or add a steam tray or ice on a baking sheet below the baking rack.
  16. Bake bread for 20 minutes then remove lid or steam and bake for 30-35 minutes without steam.
  17. Once baked, cool the loaves for one to two hours.

Following this recipe from The Perfect Loaf finally helped me get a loaf of einkorn sourdough that I was happy with. I hope it works the first time for you.

In the comment section below share your thoughts and successes with einkorn.


Author: Darryl Alder lives with his wife in Riverside Lodge, which is their home along the Provo River in Utah. He is a retired career Scouter and outdoorsman who spent many hours over a campfire using a Dutch oven and loves sharing recipes for the kitchen and the campfire alike. You can read many of his recipes on this site by searching for Sourdough Saturday or Recipes on the top right-hand side of the blog

 

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