Baking Bread with Einkorn
Have you heard about Einkorn? It's an ancient grain that's been making a comeback in recent years due to it's nutritional value.
If you want to learn how to bake bread with this fascinating grain, then come along with me on a journey to discover more about the grain of the ancients.
Seed Heads and Wheat Berries
I started experimenting with Einkorn in early 2011. One of the main reasons I became interested in this wheat is that it can sometimes be tolerated by those with wheat sensitivities.
I love history, especially the history of wheat, so along the way, I’ve become enamored with this grain. My journey is taking me into areas I would never have imagined I would go. Recently, I traveled to Tuscany, one of the places where the wheat is grown, to find out more about baking with it.
What is Einkorn?
Einkorn is from the species Triticum monococcum. Originally from the Fertile Crescent area, it is thought to be the first wheat cultivated by man over 12,000 years ago. It moved from the Fertile Crescent area to Eastern Europe and eventually to the Italian Alps where it was found in 1991 with the frozen remains of Ötzi the Iceman. They examined his last meal and it contained meat, roots, berries and einkorn wheat.
This grain has been making a comeback because of its high protein content and the fact that it grows easily on minimal amounts of land and in adverse conditions. After all of these centuries, it has remained a pure wheat. In fact, it’s the only wheat that has not been hybridized. It has 14 chromosomes compared to 42 chromosomes in modern wheat.
Like other varieties of ancient wheat, it is hulled, which means it has a protective layer that stays intact when it is harvested. The protective layer has to be removed before milling which requires an extra step and additional time. As a result, the yield for this type of wheat is lower than the yields for modern wheat.
Einkorn & Spelt Pain au Levain with Caramelized Onions
How does it compare to modern wheat?
Breads made with this ancient grain are light and creamy in color and have a rich flavor similar to whole wheat flour, but not as bitter.
Since Einkorn's gluten structure has not been altered over the years, it is more easily digestible than modern wheat, but this makes it a little trickier to bake with. Dough made with this flour is very extensible, but because the gluten is weaker, it requires a shorter mixing and kneading cycle than with regular bread flour.
Slight adjustments to the hydration level (flour-to-water ratio) and the amount of yeast are also necessary when baking bread with this wheat. As a general rule, the hydration amount should be reduced by 20% for breads made with all-purpose einkorn and about 15% for the whole wheat flour.
This ancient wheat is also very nutritious. It contains higher levels of protein (22.83% vs. modern hard red wheat-14.5%), essential fatty acids, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, pyridoxine (B6), lutein and beta-carotene (lutein) than modern wheat.
Where can you find this ancient grain?
Currently, the largest grower of Einkorn is Jovial Foods. You can find all-purpose flour, whole grain berries and pasta products on their web site. There are other growers and suppliers, but Jovial Foods is the largest one at the moment. You can also find information about this ancient grain on Einkorn.com.
What types of bread can be made with it?
Here are some of the breads I've made using this ancient wheat. Look for more breads as I continue baking with ancient grains.
Homegrown Whole Grains by Sara Pitzer