I have been reading lately about einkorn wheat. Have you heard of it? It is an ancient variety and much more digestible than our modern strains of wheat and even spelt.
This detailed post by Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, is what prompted me to order some. If you’re at all interested in einkorn wheat, do take a minute to read her post. Sarah is one very knowledgeable, thorough lady, and I have learned a lot from her over the years.
Something Better Natural Foods has a better price than Jovial, but compared to my standard Prairie Gold, it still makes for some pretty expensive sandwich bread. I’m sure a bulk price would be a bit more reasonable, but the biggest bag I could find was only 5 lb.The wheat berries are noticeably different from the four or five other wheat varieties I am familiar with, being smaller and flattened.
I should have read up on the specifics of working with einkorn flour instead of assuming that since one can make loaves of bread from it, it would be similar to regular hard wheats. It is definitely not, and I learned that the hard way. This busy mom should have slowed down for a minute to read a little further, like maybe some einkorn-specific baking tips or even an einkorn bread recipe like you’ll find here.
Einkorn dough handles much more like spelt, except it’s even more challenging to work with, especially when you’re not expecting it to be. It’s very, VERY sticky (think chewing gum all over your hands.) I attempted my usual recipe in which only the amounts of liquid, salt and yeast are actually measured. I eyeball the other ingredients and stop adding flour when I judge the consistency to be right. I should not have tried this for my first time with einkorn.
I am not sure how much flour I added, but it was a good deal more than I’m used to adding. (I later learned that einkorn dough does require a bit more flour.) It was still sticky, though.
Then my Bosch up and quit on me after about a minute of mixing. I have LOVED my Bosch, mind you, and am not blaming it. In fact, I am pretty sure it konked out on me due to last week’s mother of all kitchen blunders, which was entirely my fault, not its, and I do hope it’s fixable.
I know what you’re wondering, and the answer is no. Wild horses could not drag those disastrous details from my memory to my keyboard all for the sake of an interesting blog post. However, now that I think about it, I could possibly be bribed to fess up by a large enough sum of cold, hard cash—either that or a case of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips delivered to my doorstep. Any takers?
But back to my dough . . . my really sticky dough . . . my really sticky dough which had to be scooped out of my busted Bosch and onto a floured counter and got all—and I do mean ALL—over my hands. Working with dough that is over-floured and thick and heavy but still really, really sticky is a very frustrating and somewhat confusing experience, to say the least.
As I was becoming irritated, I gave up on this dough. It was too expensive to toss, that’s for sure, so I decided to oil a large bowl and plop the whole thing into it, cover it, let it rest for a while, and hope for something edible when all was said and done.
Of course, I knew the dough would not rise, given that it had not been kneaded, but I turned out to be wrong. (I have since learned that einkorn requires very little kneading. Whew.)
The dough did rise. I pressed it down, and would you believe it did not stick to my hands? I let it rest again for a while, then plopped it out onto an oiled countertop (wasn’t going the flour route again) and shaped it into three beautiful loaves. The dough was easy to work with and no longer sticky. Yes, really. I could hardly believe it.
The finished product had a deep color like pale pumpkin bread (the picture is a little over-exposed), and it’s packed full of a delicious, nutty flavor. And nutrition. The texture was dense but not tough, so maybe I didn’t do so badly after all.
Here are a few things I learned after the fact, which I wish I had known at the get-go:
- Einkorn wheat flour needs some time to absorb the liquid, so give the dough time to rest before adding all the flour; otherwise, you’ll probably add too much.
- It WILL be sticky to work with, initially. If you’re kneading by hand, this will be seriously aggravating, so do not attempt it when any other aggravating factors are present and already pushing you to your limits.
- Einkorn flour doesn’t have the type or amount of gluten we’re used to with regular wheat flour, and it only needs a few minutes of kneading.
Next time I’ll know what I’m doing. Hopefully.