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|December 13, 2013
Ancient Grain Sourdoughs
I recently ordered einka (maybe more commonly known as einkorn)
and more emmer flour from Bluebird Grain Farms in Washington
(bluebirdgrainfarms.com) and baked sourdough loaves from both to
compare the breads. Both of these grains are "ancient grains" whose
lineage can be traced back to the origin of domesticated grains in the
fertile crescent around 7500 BC. Unlike modern wheat, but like spelt,
emmer and einkorn grains are covered with a hull that must be
removed in the milling process.
Some healthy eating advocates feel that these ancient grains
(because of their lack of modern genetics selecting for maximal
production) are better for us than modern strains of wheat. I think it
would be pretty difficult to prove that the ancient genetics offer
superior nutrition to modern varieties of wheat. However, just the fact
that these are whole grain flours means that nutritional parameters
such as the glycemic index and availability of minerals is much
superior to white flour and thus they are easy to recommend from a
The flours themselves are cream colored and sweet, with lower gluten
levels than whole wheat. I get a hint of a toasted nut flavor from the
emmer. The gluten level in emmer seems to be similar to that of
spelt, while the gluten level of einkorn is even lower, making its dough
similar to a 50% rye/white flour loaf. The texture of einkorn flour is
quite dissimilar to other wheats, being a bit crumbly. Regular wheat
sourdough adequately raised both, though as the pictures show, the
higher gluten level of the emmer makes for a better rise.
100% Emmer Sourdough, one 1.5 lb loaf
100% Einkorn Sourdough, one 1.5 lb loaf
As you can see from the recipes, the einkhorn flour just doesn't take
up as much water as the emmer.
Einkhorn dough (left) and emmer dough (right)
Directions for both loaves:
Place the stiff levain in a large bowl and add the water. Allow the
levain to soften for a few minutes in the water then stir until almost
smooth. Add the honey and kosher salt, then stir in the flour until
smooth. Stir vigorously another 15-30 seconds. Cover and allow to
rise at room temperature overnight or until nearly doubled.
Refrigerate dough until ready to use or proceed to forming loaves.
When ready to bake, fold the dough a few times then shape into a
batard or boule. Place on a parchment covered peel or baking sheet
and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature
for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven, baking stone and steam pan to 450
degrees. When ready to bake, dust the loaves with flour then score
and slide onto the baking stone. Pour a cup of water into the steam
bath and turn the oven down to 400 degrees. Bake loaves for 45
minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool.
The emmer and einkorn breads both tasted great, but as the pictures
demonstrate, the emmer flour produces a more pleasant texture and
rise for no knead sourdoughs. Emmer flour seems similar to whole
grain spelt flour in most respects and thus you could substitute one
for the other quite easily. Buying spelt flour locally would definitely be
the cheapest way to go.
Submitted to Susan's yeastspotting at the wildyeastblog.com