Hints for Baking with Einkorn Wheat – Updated

This is an update of an earlier post, published on January 8, 2016.

Thanks, everyone! My einkorn flour postings have piqued quite a bit of interest. I have experimented with it various ways until I think I’ve found what works well for me. Well, for now, anyway.

I’m one of those people who seldom makes a recipe the same way twice. I keep trying new ideas. Some work. Some are hysterically stupid funny (my editorializing there). Some are brilliant. Some are embarrassingly inept like in my “Gotcha” post about one of my Einkorn Soda Bread baking days.

I love baking. Cookies, cakes, pies and breads. When I learned how harmful our current wheat flour options can be, I was sorely disappointed. I tried gluten-free flour mixes for a while and they were a helpful alternative, but they lacked the substance, body, and flavor I sought. My husband described my gluten-free bread as “paper towel flavored.”

I Discovered Einkorn Wheat!

cookies, snowy windowpane 2

Einkorn “Frosty Window Pane” cookies baked in a waffle iron.

Einkorn is an original un-adulterated ancient species of wheat that is low in gluten and its gluten is readily digested. Similar in flavor to today’s wheat, it carries none of regular wheat’s challenging side effects. The trick to baking with einkorn is to find a way to hold the ingredients together, and to accept that it just doesn’t rise as readily. Finding the right binder was a challenge for me. The usual binding agents in gluten-free flours, used in lieu of wheat’s gluten – such as xanthan gum, are slimy and cause gas eruptions for many people. It’s no fun to enjoy a slice of rich, moist chocolate cake, and then spend the rest of the day running away from polite company into another room to de-gas when your digestion rebels. It’s like eating bean chili at a meditation retreat – you just don’t do it if you want people to enjoy your company.

I Discovered the Benefits of Flax Meal as a Binder.

Looking for a substitute binding ingredient, I remembered the binding benefits of flax meal. When I was totally vegan I used it as a substitute for eggs. It holds ingredients together. It adds texture (fiber!). And it is packed with omega 3 essential fatty acids and lignans.  (Although I’ve heard baking destroys that – I haven’t researched that further). I’ve not seen flax meal recommended elsewhere, but when I use it, I can use most regular wheat baking recipes without adjusting the liquid or other factors such as are recommended on other einkorn baking sites. (The exception is baking with yeast.) In my earlier post, I recommended adjustments that I have since discarded. With flax meal, they simply are no longer necessary.

Note: the flax meal needs to be finely ground in order to absorb the liquid easily. I’ve found *Great Value Organic Ground Flax Seed is the perfect ingredient (and no, I’m not paid to advertise them.) You can find it at WalMart or online. Many of the more well-known flax meals available at local health food stores are a bit too coarse for my liking. When necessary, I have used them, but first I grind them more finely in my Vita-mix or coffee grinder.

Hints for Baking with Einkorn Flour

gluten free chocolate cake 2

My “Wacky Vegan Chocolate Cake” recipe made with einkorn flour and flax meal.

Einkorn flour creates a denser, coarser texture, yet from my perspective, that makes it hearty! Just as when you switch to gluten-free flours, you will need to learn how to work with this new flour in your own baking. It responds differently than the typical wheat flour, but following these suggestions, I think you’ll be delighted with your results.

  • Have realistic expectations. Low in gluten, this flour doesn’t rise as smoothly, and the texture is not as refined. It’s flavor is subtly nut-like, and the color is a beautiful golden.
  • You can substitute einkorn for regular wheat, or gluten-free, flour in most recipes, cup for cup. The exception is recipes calling for yeast as an ingredient.
  • For each 1 cup of einkorn flour, add 2 Tablespoons of finely ground flax meal.
flax meal

Flax meal

  • Because its golden color browns early in the baking process, einkorn can look baked before it is actually done. Experiment with this in your own recipes, but I usually let cakes and bread loaves bake 5-8 minutes longer. The typical test of inserting a toothpick into the center that pulls out clean works well. I like my cookies chewy, so I bake them the usual length of time. Bake them 2-3 minutes longer if you like them crisper.

Einkorn Bread Hints

Einkorn bread is best made with a dough texture that is sort of “sticky”. If you try to create a soft spongy dough, using the typical amount of flour you use with traditional wheat flours, the resulting loaf will be heavy and dense. Because there is minimal gluten in einkorn flour, when making yeast breads with it you don’t knead much. In fact, you can just “stir” the thick dough, or work it in the bowl with your hands to mix it well. Let it rise. Stir/mix it again, place in oiled baking pans and let it double in size a second time before baking per your recipe’s instructions.

Making any bread, the end result is influenced by air pressure and humidity. Bread can rise more on humid days. In the 1970s I baked all of our breads – loaves, hamburger and hot dog buns, bread sticks, cinnamon rolls…and did so on rainy days when I could get an extra loaf or two from the batch. From time to time my family ruefully reminds me of this ancient rite I practiced in the good old days. I used whole wheat then, but wouldn’t even consider that now.

Using a bread machine

bread, einkorn

Vegan Einkorn-Oatmeal bread loaf

See my Vegan Einkorn-Oatmeal Breadmaker Bread recipe here.  When using the “dough” setting, start your bread maker. Then 10 minutes into the cycle, check the dough. If it is too sticky, add a little flour in small increments until it no longer sticks. A little sticking is to be expected, but you don’t want dough-webs stuck all over the container. If it is too dry and dense – looking and thudding around like a rock – add small increments of the nut or dairy milk until it softens up. Remove when the dough cycle is finished, knead lightly, and place in oiled pans to rise.

There are so me Einkorn Bread Machine recipes online, but I suggest you experiment for yourself. I find that if I use the complete machine cycle with this bread, it totally over-works it. If using the complete process, use the “basic white” setting. Follow the above instructions by checking and adjusting the dough 10 minutes into the initial cycle, then let the machine handle the rest.

Or try my version of this yeast-free, no-knead, Easy Einkorn Soda Bread recipe. You can find more recipes on the Jovial website. I referred to their site often when first experimenting.

Einkorn bread, jan 2016 1

This loaf of einkorn soda bread is an example of how homemade bread doesn’t need to be perfect to be delicious. This loaf had irregular texture, the top baked up lopsided, and I could have baked this one a little longer, but it was moist and hearty. I served it with an evening dinner for guests whose only complaint was that they ate so much bread, they didn’t have room for desert! (Yes, we did get to that later on…)

If your bread “fails” don’t despair. Even if it comes out looking sad or disgusting, I’ll bet it will taste amazing. Pat yourself on the back for giving it a go! For sure, the aroma of baking bread wafting through your home is worth the effort, isn’t it? Use your “failed” bread to make bread pudding, or cut it into cubes, dry it, and use for croutons. Or throw it at anyone who makes fun of how it looks.

Purchasing Einkorn Flour

I haven’t found einkorn flour or einkorn whole grains locally, so I purchase mine online from Jovial Foods. A husband and wife team who sought healthy food for their gluten sensitive child, they brought out awareness of Einkorn flour and offer recipes and suggestions on their website. Their organic einkorn comes from Italy. They also offer einkorn pastas which we love, and other gluten-free grain products. I’ve recently learned einkorn is also grown organically in Washington State on the Bluebird Grain farm. I’ll check them out on my next order. Although einkorn cost more than today’s wheat flour,  the health benefits and taste are well worth it.

*This is the best texture of finely ground meal I have found. My original post listed Carrington Farms Flax Meal, which I’ve happily used in cooking for years, but it’s too coarse to use for this purpose.

I appreciate all of you who are experimenting with new, healthy foods, and blogging them so the rest of us can learn! It’s always an adventure!

“Take life into your own hands and make it happen. It’s your life; Lead it!” 

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Ellie Hadsall is an author and director of Cosmic Gathering, dedicated to unconditional support for your transformational journey.

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About Ellie Hadsall

My life is a journey with insights and gifts being revealed as I move forward. Every one I meet is a companion on this adventure. Together, we ride a wave of transformation. Let's leave the old behind and move through new portals! After a long, fulfilling career in human resource, personal development, and motivational speaking, I am currently a spiritual mentor, author, intuitive, Kriya minister, Vedic fire ceremony practitioner, meditation teacher and spiritual friend.
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