If you are now eating einkorn because of a sensitivity to modern wheat, we strongly recommend baking einkorn bread at home with a sourdough starter. The bacterial enzymes that are formed in sourdough break down the protein or gluten in wheat. The combination of einkorn and sourdough will not only give you nature’s most digestible bread, it will also reward your efforts with superior flavor. If you do not have a sourdough starter, you can find out how to make one here.
This recipe utilizes 100% whole grain einkorn, so let’s talk a little more about grinding wheat berries to flour. You may not own a grain mill, but it is also possible to grind wheat berries in a good blender or Vitamix, you just have to blend one cup at a time. We ground a cup of einkorn wheat berries in a grain mill on the finest setting and also a cup in a Kitchen Aid Artisan blender. We then sifted the flour to show the difference. In the picture above, you will see the flour from the grain mill on the left and the flour from the blender on the right. Both have a considerable amount of bran, but you can see that the particles and the flour from the blender are coarser. Since your flour will be fermenting for many hours with the sourdough starter, the coarser flour will still work fine for this bread recipe.
Einkorn has very small and hard starch cells, so the milled flour absorbs water slower than modern wheat. When modern wheat is milled, the starch granules explode, while with einkorn, the starch remains intact. Some researchers also believe this might be another factor in understanding the better digestibility of einkorn. In any case, when you are baking whole grain einkorn bread, it is best to keep the dough wetter at first, giving einkorn time to slowly absorb the water. Using a wetter dough will give you softer bread that rises and bakes nicely.
We like to bake sourdough bread with a preferment, which mixes a small portion of your starter with flour and water the night before baking. The preferment looks like pancake batter and when it is ready, is very bubbly. The preferment shortens the rise time on the day of baking.
- 2 tbsp. (25g) starter
- ½ cup+ 2 tbsp. (145g) warm water
- ¾ cup (150g) einkorn wheat berries (before grinding to flour)
- Dissolve starter in water.
- Beat in flour with a fork, pressing and mixing until the flour and water have mixed together completely.
- Add mixture to a large glass container that you can add a few cups of water to tomorrow, and seal with lid or plastic wrap.
- Let stand at room temperature for 8-12 hours in a dark place.
- all of the preferment
- 1 cup + 3 ½ tbsp. (285g) of water water
- 3 cups (600g) jovial einkorn wheatberries (before grinding to flour)
- 1 ½ tsp. (9g) sea salt
- extra flour for dusting
- Grind einkorn wheat berries to flour and mix together with salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Add warm water to the preferment to loosen, then pour over the flour.
- Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands until the flour is mixed well, forming a wet and sticky ball of dough. Let rise in a covered bowl in a dark place.
- If your sourdough is new, you should turn the dough three times the first hour every twenty minutes to help the leavening get started.
- If your sourdough is mature, you can turn the dough just once after the first hour. The dough will look like this after one hour.
You can turn the dough right in the mixing bowl by flattening, then folding each of the flour sides over like you are making an envelope. Then use a little more flour to form a ball.
We let our dough rise a total of three hours before forming the loaf. The dough does not double in size, but looks more like the image below. In the summertime, when the temperature is above 70, we only let the dough rise for two hours.
Shape your loaf and put it in a loaf pan or proofing basket to rise for 1 hour before baking in preheated oven at 425ºF for 40 minutes, rotating the loaf after 20 minutes of baking. Again, use your best judgement for the proofing times. If your starter is not mature, this step might be a little longer. If it is warm summer day, 30-45 minutes might be all you need. Let cool for one hour before slicing.
- When forming the loaf with einkorn dough, we suggest that you do not completely deflate the dough, but deflate very gently and quickly form a shape close to the type of loaf you want with out too much fuss. Let the dough rest for five minutes with the mixing bowl on top. Now, add some more flour and perfect the shape of your loaf by gently tucking and rolling the dough. Seams will join together and some imperfections are actually the beauty of home baked bread.
- If you are not baking in a loaf pan, you will need a basket to help the bread hold its shape. You can line any basket or a colander with a clean kitchen towel, preferably linen, to proof the loaf. Always dust the towels with abundant flour to prevent the dough from sticking. We like to use an unlined proofing basket, dusted with flour to proof our loafs because the dough rarely sticks to the basket so the loafs turn out perfectly.
- The loaf will be ready to bake when it has risen about an inch or two, but it will not double in size. Once the loaf gets in to the hot oven, it will rise considerably. This is typical of einkorn sourdough bread.
- You can bake the bread on a baking sheet or pizza stone. If you are using a pizza stone, it will take at least 30 minutes for the stone to heat properly. If you cook the bread on a stone that is not well-heated, the bottom of the bread will not cook well. If you don’t have the time to preheat the oven and stone for 30-45 minutes, it is better to use a regular baking sheet that is preheated in the oven for 10-15 minutes. We recommend placing a baking dish with at least 2 inches of water in the bottom rack of the oven while preheating and during baking. This will create a bit of steam for the loaf and result in a better crust.
- It is very important to slash the loaf with a sharp knife or baker’s razor, especially with einkorn. Einkorn dough expands quickly in the oven and the slash with help the loaf rise better and hold its shape with out cracking at the sides where it expands. This is our favorite shape of bread because it gives nice uniform slices. For this type of shape, we like to make one quick slice down the center at about ¼ inch deep.
- Bread baked with 100% whole grain flour from einkorn wheat berries is soft and flavorful. Baking at 425°F will give you a crispy thin crust. If you prefer a softer crust, you may also bake this loaf at 425°F for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 375°F for 30 minutes.