A Brief History and Guide to Einkorn

By Jonathan Bethony | Alexa Bendek


Jonathan Bethony
Alexa Bendek
Einkorn pullman at Seylou Bakery
Einkorn pullman at Seylou Bakery

Being the oldest cultivated wheat, Einkorn is often referred to as humankind’s first wheat. A recent discovery in Jordan found evidence of the first Einkorn loaf dating from nearly 14,000 years ago, made by Natufian hunter-gatherers. Today, it has gotten traction as an easy-to-digest alternative to “modern wheat.” Indeed, it’s higher in protein, vitamins, and minerals than its modern descendant, but what really stands out is Einkorn’s robust and complex flavor profile. The delicate crust exudes notes of Gruy√®re cheese. The spongy interior has great body and chew without being dense.

This preparation is in a basic sourdough format. Because of the incredible flavor of the grain, we have chosen to keep the formula as simple as possible. The real magic happened in the land where the Einkorn was cultivated, with careful farming practices. We are merely setting the stage for what is already a masterpiece. Currently, we source our organic Einkorn from Lancaster County, a three-hour drive from our bakery. Though due to it’s rising popularity, it is available nationwide. So if you want to give it a go, it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

I highly recommend milling Einkorn fresh, if possible. Since it is a very soft grain, even a small home baker’s mill will give you silky flour. You may find shaping this dough very difficult. I skip the preshape, choosing to final-shape right into a buttered loaf pan. When shaping, I use water instead of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the bench. I use the stitching method popularized by Tartine. Don’t worry if it doesn’t form a tight loaf. Just get it into the pan. I score the loaf by dipping scissors in olive oil and cutting about ¼-inch down straight across the top, in the center, and end to end. For doneness, I look for a deep gold-orange color on the crust and an interior of no less than 97°C.

Levain 1: 300 grams whole Einkorn flour
240 grams cold water
60 grams starter
Proof: 12 to 14 hours
Levain 2: 300 grams whole Einkorn flour
138 grams water
600 grams Levain 1
Proof: 3 to 4 hours
Final Mix: 5.5 kilograms whole Einkorn flour
5.005 kilograms water
880 grams Levain 2 121 grams salt
Desired Dough Temperature: 26°C
Bulk Ferment: 2½ to 3 hours, folding every 45 minutes
Divide & Shape: 1.86-kilogram blunt batards (13-inch by 4-inch Pullman loaf)
Final Proof: 1½ hours
Bake: 240°C 
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