Do you know the feeling when you have a picture of what something should be but life and reality take their own spin? It’s what happened to me this winter when I bought my first bag of einkorn wheat berries. I admit, I had some expectations about einkorn. I thought einkorn should at least have some of the characteristics of the modern wheat. Well, not really. The dough made out of freshly milled einkorn wheat flour is very sticky (similar to rye) and unless you plan to spend more time washing your hands than enjoying your bread, I advise you to touch the dough as less as possible.
So, what is einkorn wheat?
Einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum) is one of the first forms of wheat cultivated by humans. The word einkorn comes from German and it literally means one kernel. Einkorn has the single kernel per spikelet, or husks containing kernels on the head of the grain plant. For comparison, modern wheats have at least four kernels.
As spelt, einkorn is also a hulled wheat and thus requires an extra processing step which is called threshing and in which the hulls are removed. The hull has an important role: it can protect the grain from stray chemical contamination and insects making it an easier grain to grow organically.
And why is einkorn wheat good for you?
a) Being a diploide species, einkorn has 14 chromosomes while modern wheats have 42 and thus making it more friendy to our gut.
b) Einkorn has less starch, namely less amylopection (amylopectin + amylose = startch) which is responsible for blood sugar spike.
c) Studies suggest that the gliadin protein (gliadin + glutanin = gluten) is not as toxic as with modern wheats making it easier to digest.
When tasting bread, I try to be aware of the feeling it leaves in my stomach. Without exaggeration, I found the einkorn bread to be the most digestible of all gluten grains sourdough breads. Try it for yourself and let me know how it worked for you. And now, let’s hop to the recipe.
100% whole grain einkorn wheat sourdough bread
Yields: one small to medium loaf
This bread was mixed in the evening, left to rise for 3 hours at the room temperature, shaped and then put in the fridge for 11 hours. It was baked in the morning of the following day.
400 g whole grain einkorn wheat flour (I used freshly milled flour)
265 g water + 10 g water
100 g active rye sourdough starter (100% hydration)
8 g fine sea salt
1. In the evening, first mix 265 g of water, 100 g of active rye sourdough starter (I fed mine in the morning), and 400 g of whole grain einkorn wheat flour. Mix until all ingredients come together. Leave to rest (autolyse) for 30-60 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky. It helps to have wet or greased hands to handle the dough easier.
2. After the rest you will notice the dough has relaxed a little bit. Add 8 g of salt and 10 g of water. If the dough fills stiff, add more water. Knead the dough for couple of minutes. To prevent sticking, wet your hands from time to time and use knuckles.
3. Leave the dough in the bowl for another 2.5 hours at the room temperature (if it’s too cold, you might put the bowl in a slightly warm oven). Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth to prevent the surface of the dough from drying out. In the meantime prepare the rising basket and flour it well. I lined my rising basket with a kitchen cloth and floured it with whole grain rye flour and white wheat flour.
4. After 2.5 hours, the dough should look slightly risen and alive. Take the dough out on a lightly floured working surface. Pinch the ends of the dough together in the middle and transfer the dough to a rising basket. Work fast, as the dough will stick to your hands. Sprinkle some more flour on the top and cover it with the rest of the kitchen cloth. Put the basket in the fridge. Let the dough ferment until noticeably risen in volume and when the indent you make with your finger springs back slowly and not all the way up.
5. This is how the dough looked in the morning. It has been fermenting for 11 hours. If you want the dough to rise slower, add less starter to the dough and if you want it to ferment faster, add more starter or leave the dough at the room temperature for half an hour after shaping it.
6. When the dough is ready (or just before you think is ready), put the dutch oven (or a baking stone) into oven and heat it to the maximum temperature of your oven for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, keep the bread in the fridge to prevent overfermenting.
7. When dutch oven is preheated, take it out. Put a piece of parchment paper and a chopping board over the rising basket and turn everything upside down. Score the bread and transfer it to a dutch oven.
8. Bake the bread for 20 minutes with the lid on at 240°C/465F°F and 20-25 minutes with lid off at 230°C/445°F and until bread gets nice golden color.
Cool on a cooling rack before cutting for at least 2-3 hours, otherwise the crumb can be gummy.
Einkorn is my favorite grain and it has learned me a lot. Especially to observe and take everything as it is and as it is unfolding in front of you, since this is all you have at that moment. Expectations are just illusions.
Have you tried baking with einkorn wheat? What was your experience? Tell me in a comment below.
Einkorn description reference found here.