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 ancient grains and especially Einkorn. My journey has taken me into areas I would never have imagined I would go. I traveled to Tuscany, one of the places where this wheat is grown, to find out more about baking with it. I’ve also attended workshops in the States to learn more about this nutty grain. Although I enjoy working with other grains, Einkorn has become one of my favorites.
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.
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?
Jovial Foods is one of the largest growers of Einkorn. They currently grow their wheat in Tuscany although plans are underway to expand to the U.S. You’ll find all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sprouted wheat flour, whole grain berries and pasta products on their web site. Additional products are being added on a regular basis.
You can also find information about this ancient grain on Einkorn.com. They started the Einkorn movement in the U.S. and are based out of Idaho. They work with a network of growers in the U.S. On their site, you’ll find organic all-purpose Einkorn flour, and Einkorn berries if you prefer to mill your own flour.
What types of bread can be made with it?
Here are some of the breads I’ve made using this ancient wheat. Not all of the breads I’ve made are listed here so to find more breads, just type Einkorn into the search box and you’ll be presented with more options. And please do check back to discover more breads as I continue baking with ancient grains.
Ancient Grain Tartine
Includes Spelt and KAMUT.
Bread made with an overnight sponge
Basic whole wheat bread using freshly milled flour and an overnight sponge.
Cape Seed bread in a Lekue Baker
Bread chock full of seeds and nutrition.
Classic Sandwich Bread
Sandwich loaf made with all-purpose Einkorn flour.
Einkorn & Spelt Sourdough
With Caramelized Onions & Rosemary baked in a ceramic bread baker.
Levain with an overnight poolish
Whole Wheat Bread made with an overnight poolish.
Normandy Apple Bread
Sourdough bread made with dried apples, apple cider, bread flour and ancient grain flour.
Oatmeal Bread Machine Bread
A delicious Oatmeal Bread machine bread made with a mixture of flours and steel cut oats.
Made in a Pullman pan using stale Einkorn bread.
Whole grain pizza crust made with the grain of the ancients.
Quick bread made with olive oil and ancient whole wheat flour.
Pumpkin Yeast Bread
This Pumpkin Yeast Bread is made with 80% extraction Einkorn flour.
Roasted Garlic & Potato Bread
Made with Einkorn.
Sesame Einkorn Crackers
Whole grain crackers with sesame seeds.
Chocolate chip scones with Spelt and Einkorn.
Homemade herb soda crackers
Sourdough bread made with an Einkorn sourdough starter and flour.
Sourdough Banana Bread
Banana bread made with a sourdough starter as the leavening.
With einkorn & barley flours.
Sourdough Multigrain Bread
With ancients grains and an overnight soaker.
Developing a sourdough starter using ancient wheat flour.
Spelt & Einkorn Party Brot
Brown and white rolls with poppy seeds and spelt flakes.
Sprouted Einkorn Bread
A delicious sprouted bread made with sprouted grains and all purpose flour.
Sprouted Bread with no Flour
One of the keys to success with this sprouted bread is to only let the grains sprout until the tiny sprouts are just barely beginning to show.
Homegrown Whole Grains by Sara Pitzer