Ask Amma

OMG Einkorn!

In Recipes on 5 February 2019 at 2:09 am

I think 2018 will have to be remembered as the year of Einkorn. Recently when trying to convey to my sister how ravenously exhilarated, how irrationally exuberant, how transcendentally euphoric I had become in the sannidhi of einkorn, Khiyali said, “I think it has replaced Taoism as her new religion.”

She said this because just a few months ago I was transported, I was understood, I was spoken to, by a verse from the Tao the Ching.

All the world talks about my Tao
with such familiarity — 
What folly!
Tao is not something found at the marketplace
or passed on from father to son
It is not something gained by knowing
or lost by forgetting
If Tao were like this
It would have been lost and forgotten long ago

Let us simply say, I exhaled.

A sigh of such satisfaction, of longed-for understanding, such sense of being found, being at once remembered without ever having been forgotten, a reassurance of trust in the world, a touch of the ancients, the likes of which I had not felt before or since … until I found einkorn.

Is there anything like einkorn? No there is not.

To think I stumbled upon it almost by accident. For introducing me to einkorn I must thank my friend Lisa Kinney, who has been purveying the goods of the Amish to me … when I asked her if she could bring me some wheat berries, she also brought einkorn. Not knowing what to do with einkorn I used up all the wheat berries first. Having resolved not to buy flour, back in my early days of milling when such resolutions were required to prevent me from taking the benighted way of seeking things that are to be found in the marketplace, I one day found myself out of wheat berries.

Freshly milled einkorn!

And so the einkorn pulled up to the front of the pantry and made its way into the mill. Now, for a recipe. I found one that said “if the thought of baking is daunting …” I thought, no, the thought of baking bread is not daunting, give me a recipe for the undaunted. Nonetheless, since this was the only recipe for plain wholegrain einkorn bread I could find, I followed it and found that there is little that can say “Tu Zinda Hai” with the wisdom and confidence of fresh baked einkorn.

Moreover, I can also attest that, for those daunted by baking, the process is simpler than baking with modern wheat, as there is little or no kneading involved. 

Step 1 – Mix water, honey and yeast. Let sit for 5-8 minutes as the yeast proofs.

Note: If you know your yeast is active you can go directly to step 2 without waiting for visual proof. If you do opt to confirm, or have littles who want to see the yeasties plunge down into the sweet water and foam up to the top, here is what it will look like after a few minutes:

Yeast after a few minutes in sweet warm water will look like this.
If nothing like this happens, your yeast is probably inactive and you need to get new yeast.

Step 2: Add flour and salt. Mix with a fork until all the flour is wet. No need to knead einkorn. In fact, after mixing, the dough gets half an hour to rest and rise. Don’t wait for it to double in bulk, just let it start rising and move to step 3.

All five ingredients for einkorn bread are mixed. The dough is too wet to roll or shape.
But it will rise.

Step 3: Stir down and transfer dough to oiled baking pan.  Keep in a warm place and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.   Don’t expect it to double in bulk. If you let it rise until it doubles in bulk, it might collapse while baking. Note that I am speaking from experience. If this happens though, all is not lost. The bread will still taste good, get eaten, and you can try again in a couple of days.

Step 4: Preheat oven to 375 °F and then put the pan in the oven to bake for 35 – 40 minutes.

 

It usually rises a bit more than what you see in the above pictures (will try to remember to take pictures again and put them in here for comparison) but even so the texture will be more dense than bread made with modern wheat.  

I found these proportions on the Jovial website and I have been using them ever since.  So simple – one pound einkorn flour , one ounce honey, half a teaspoon salt, half a tablespoon of yeast, and 350 grams of water.  Here it is in grams (mostly): 

456 grams whole grain einkorn flour
350 grams water
28 grams honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp yeast

Basically – stir everything together, let rest for 30 minutes. By this time it should start rising but not double in bulk.  Stir down and transfer to an oiled baking pan.  Let rise 30 minutes.  Again, don’t wait for it to double.  Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes.

Don’t forget to preheat the oven so that it is ready at 375 by the time the 30 minutes are up.   Otherwise the dough will keep rising while you wait for the oven.  Timing is important in yeast-based baking, and especially so with einkorn where the rising time is short to begin with. 

Thanks to Jovial Foods for the recipe. 

 

 

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