Einkorn Sourdough Bread Recipe

 

Einkorn (triticum monococcum) is the ancient precursor of wheat, the original wheat that grew in the area known as the Fertile Crescent in present-day Iraq and Syria. The grains are not very different from those harvested and eaten about 18,000 years ago and cultivated from about 10,00o BC. Einkorn moved from the Fertile Crescent area all the way 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. Even in the UK, grains of Einkorn have been discovered at an underwater archaeological site on the Isle of Wight where it was cultivated around 6,000 BC, when Britain was still connected by land to Europe.

Einkorn has an ability to survive on poor soil and in adverse conditions; however, as time went on, other varieties of wheat became more popular due to bigger yield and easier processing. Here is my Einkorn sourdough bread recipe, made with 100% wholemeal Einkorn flour. A beautifully golden loaf, with a deliciously creamy texture.

Einkorn sourdough bread
Einkorn sourdough bread

After all of this time, Einkorn has remained a pure wheat that has not been hybridized. It aptly translates into “one grain” in German as it has a single grain attached to its stem, while other modern varieties have groups of four grains. All varieties of wheat we know today are descendants of wild Einkorn.

Baking with Einkorn

Einkorn is ground into a soft and golden flour. As the gluten is weaker than standard wheat flour gluten, it requires a shorter mixing and kneading cycle than with regular bread flour. The dough can become sticky with excessive kneading and the slightly sticky gluten produces loaves of smaller volume than modern flours.

Einkorn flour absorbs less liquid than other wholemeal flours. As a general rule, the hydration amount should be reduced by 15% for standard wholewheat Einkorn flour. Resist the temptation to add more flour to lessen the dough’s sticky texture as it will end up drying up and baking dense later. Try to keep your dough wet and sticky.

Finally, don’t let it proof to the same degree as you would with normal wheat doughs. If Einkorn dough rises too much, it will deflate in the oven. Make sure the dough springs back when you press on it with your finger. It is better to under-proof than over-proof with Einkorn.

Where to buy Einkorn flour

Production today is limited and isolated, yet in the UK, Einkorn flour is available from Doves Farm and Shipton Mill.

Einkorn Sourdough Recipe

Bake a rustic sourdough bread with golden Einkorn flour. Light and creamy in colour with a rich flavour.

Einkorn bread
Einkorn bread

Ingredients

Sourdough

  • 50g wheat sourdough starter
  • 75g Einkorn flour
  • 75g water

Main dough

  • 500g Einkorn flour
  • 8g salt
  • 400g water

Dusting

  • Some extra flour (I use rice flour)

How to make Einkorn sourdough bread

  1. Combine the sourdough ingredients in a medium bowl, cover and set aside at room temperature for 12 hours.
  2. On the second day, combine all main dough ingredients with 150g of the refreshed sourdough starter (the rest should be set aside for your next bake) in a large bowl.
  3. Mix until all ingredients are well combined but avoid kneading the dough. The dough will be sticky, so work with your dough scraper to make things easier.
  4. Shape into a ball and place back into the bowl.
  5. Cover and leave to rest for about an hour at room temperature.
  6. Deflate the dough and shape into a boule, cover with (rice) flour and place into lightly floured proofing basket.
  7. Cover with a polythene bag to protect the moisture and proof at room temperature. For me, in my Edinburgh kitchen, this process takes a good 6 or 7 hours. However, if your kitchen is warmer, the process may be much shorter, perhaps only 2 hours or so.
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C and preheat your baking dome or Dutch oven at the same time.
  9. Turn out the loaf onto the baking dome or Dutch oven (or otherwise a baking stone or baking tray lined with baking paper).
  10. Score the top with a pattern of your choice. Use a scoring knife for best results.
  11. Bake at 220°C for 10 minutes and at 200°C for a further 40 minutes.
  12. Take off the lid of your baking dome or Dutch oven for the last 10 minutes if using to firm up the crust.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.
  14. Enjoy an beautiful Neolithic loaf of sourdough bread 🙂

Guide to bannetons (bread proofing baskets)

 

Bannetons are baskets for bread proofing, used to hold shaped loaves as they proof and undergo their final rise. These dough rising containers are also referred to as Brotform in German and Gärkörbchen in Austria and come in various shapes and materials. There is plenty of variety out there, so here is my quick guide to bannetons to get you started.

Round banneton
Round banneton

Why use a banneton?

Bannetons are great for doughs that are too sloppy to proof as free standing loaf without flowing into a flat bread. Bread proofed in a basket can therefore be wetter as the dough is held in shape during the proofing process. Once proofed, the loaf is flipped or rolled out of the banneton basket and goes straight into the hot oven, giving it little chance to relax into a puddle before the bake.

You’ll find that, as the proportion of rye in bread recipes increases, bannetons become more useful, providing lateral support for fragile loaves. For a higher and prettier result, loose doughs are therefore best supported by proofing baskets in order to rise upwards, not outwards.

Great lightness and a very open structure are possible with such (wetter) dough, but only if it can be held in a reasonably coherent shape before being fixed by the heat of baking.”

Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters

How to use a proofing basket

Using a proofing basket is simple:

  1. Put your loaf into the basket upside down (seam-side up).
  2. Cover the basket with a polythene bag to keep the moisture in i.e. to prevent the dehydration of the surface and to prevent a surface skin from forming
  3. Let the bread rise.
  4. Turn out the loaf onto your baking tray lined with baking paper or La Cloche baking dome or your baking peel, depositing the bread gently on to the surface, before transferring it into the hot oven.

A problem I faced when using my round wicker banneton for the first time was that my dough got stuck in the basket. This is because new cane bannetons need to be conditioned prior to their first use.

Before its first use, lightly mist your cane banneton with water and dust it with a layer flour. For any future uses, lightly flour your basket before you put in the dough and dip your dough in flour before you put it in the basket.

However, be careful, as too much flour results in a thick, floury crust and will diminish the cane’s spiral pattern, so you may have to experiment before you get it exactly right.

I like using white or brown rice flour to dust my banneton and to bathe the loaf in before it enters the basket. It will give your loaf a beautifully clean finish.

After use, leave it to dry out for a day, don’t place it back into the cupboard straight away.

How to clean a banneton

Brush with a dedicated stiff brush and store your banneton in a well ventilated spot.

I’ve never washed my bannetons as the brush does the job well. It’s not recommend to wash it and absolutely avoid soaking it.

However, every few months, you can place your proofing baskets into the oven at 150°C for 15 minutes to kill potential bacteria which may be lingering.

Oval banneton
Oval banneton

Types of banneton basket

There are several types of bannetons. I personally prefer cane baskets but here are your options.

Cane wicker bannetons – Wicker makes an ideal container as it allows the air to circulate around the dough and let it breathe. Cane baskets will give your loaves a beautiful pattern and last a lifetime.

Wood pulp bannetons – Mostly made in Germany from 100% local spruce trees and less prone to sticking!

Plastic bannetons – These won’t get a recommendation from me…

Lined bannetons – Linen-lined proofing baskets are also a great choice when picking a banneton.

Banneton sizes – Proofing baskets come in different sizes, so make sure your dough quantity is aligned with the banneton basket size.

Proofing basket substitutes

If you are looking for alternatives for proofing baskets, you could simply use a loaf pan to keep your dough in shape or improvise using a bowl lined with a flour-dusted lint-free tea towel. Alternatively, you could also try the all-rounder that is Lékué‘s silicone bread baker.