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- 1. Make the Levain
- 2. Autolyse
- 3. Add Levain and Rest
- 4. Add Salt & Mix
- 5. Bulk Fermentation and Folds:
- 6. Shape:
- 7. Overnight Proof:
- 8. Score & Bake:
- Can I use all-purpose einkorn flour?
- Do I need an einkorn sourdough starter?
- Is einkorn flour gluten-free?
- What are some other ancient grain recipes?
- What does einkorn bread taste like?
- Is this recipe vegan?
Einkorn flour is notorious for being difficult to bake with. However, this Beginner’s Einkorn Sourdough Bread recipe and guide walks you through easily incorporating this ancient grain into your sourdough routine with step-by-step instructions.
Einkorn is an ancient grain with numerous nutritional and health benefits, making it an exceptional choice to add to sourdough. But with a lower gluten content than modern wheat, mixing, shaping, and baking can be a challenge to those using einkorn flour for the first time.
This sourdough einkorn bread recipe starts you on your einkorn journey using about 25% einkorn flour in the loaf. That way, the recipe is manageable for beginners with guaranteed success. Plus, you’ll still get the incredible flavor of einkorn that will shine through.
🌾 What is Einkorn?
Einkorn (EYEN-corn) is a type of wheat that is considered an ancient grain. It is one of the earliest cultivated wheats and translates to “single grain” in German.
Like other ancient grains, such as spelt, einkorn is recognized for its many nutritional and health benefits. These merits include easier digestion, lower gluten content, and higher levels of protein and vitamins/minerals such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, and potassium.
Whereas modern wheat is made of 42 chromosomes, einkorn only consists of 14 chromosomes. It’s the only non-hybridized wheat, meaning that its original DNA structure has remained intact for thousands of years since earliest cultivation.
Another visible difference between modern wheat and einkorn is that einkorn is smaller than wheat berries (half the weight) and does not contain a crease in the middle of the grain.
You can find more information about einkorn and the differences between modern wheat here.
What does Einkorn taste like?
Einkorn tastes similar to whole wheat flour, but is milder, slightly nutty, and can impart a hint of sweetness, especially when it’s freshly milled. It’s very much a flavor enhancer in breads and other baked goods.
Whereas some whole wheat flours can have a very hearty and grainy texture, einkorn has a smoother mouthfeel. Einkorn is a celebrated flour substitute for those trying to incorporate more whole grains or whole wheat flours into their diets. It’s also great for children who may not enjoy the flavor of whole wheats.
Visually, einkorn flour adds a lovely golden sunset hue to the bread.
As you explore baking with different flours and grains, you’ll begin noticing more and more subtle differences between flours. Of course, they taste different, but you’ll even begin to notice textural contrasts and how you must adjust as you bake with it.
Incorporating even small amounts of new whole-grain flours can add great nutritional value and flavor to breads. Einkorn is no exception. And this beginner’s einkorn sourdough bread will start you on your baking journey!
👉 Tips for Baking with Einkorn Flour
- Shorten Autolyse
- Autolyse has many benefits, especially for high-hydration breads. It helps shorten mixing, build-up gluten content, and generally assists in achieving an open crumb.
- While I typically opt for a one-hour autolyse, you can do a shorter autolyse for this bread. That’s because there’s less benefit of it with einkorn due to its low extensibility. A thirty-minute autolyse is sufficient.
- Use a Dough Whisk to Mix
- Einkorn is not very extensible and tears easily in high amounts. While this loaf is only 25% einkorn flour, you may still notice that the dough is extremely sticky at first.
- I used a Danish dough whisk to help mix the flours and water together and it helps quite a bit to prevent stickiness to your hands.
- Hold Back Some of the Water
- Einkorn can be tricky to mix in high amounts. Even though this beginner’s recipe is only 25% einkorn flour, hold back on some of the water during mixing.
- You can always add more water if needed but you can’t remove it. It’s better to be conservative with the hydration here.
- Don’t Overproof
- Overproofing will lead to a degradation of gluten and spreading during baking, resulting in a flat loaf.
- It’s better to under proof einkorn sourdough bread slightly to ensure that this doesn’t occur. It will also be easier to shape if it’s slightly under proofed.
- Test different amounts of einkorn flour!
- This recipe is purposefully built for beginners using einkorn so you have success. At 25%, you still get the exceptional flavor of einkorn and the experience of working with it, but with less risk than starting off with a 100% einkorn loaf.
- Once you’ve excelled in creating this loaf, gradually increase the amount of einkorn flour and take note of the changes.
👨🏫 Baker’s Percentage Chart
I include a baker’s percentage chart to scale a recipe up or down easily. With baker’s percentages, the total weight of all flour in the recipe is 100%.
I also include the prefermented flour from the levain in this flour weight. Finally, I note the ingredients proportionally to the total weight of flour (in this case, 430g). That’s why the percentages below will add up to over 100%.
If you want to learn more, the King Arthur website has a more detailed reference page on why and how baker’s percentages are calculated.
|Bread Flour||320 grams||74.4%|
|Einkorn Flour||110 grams (includes 30g for levain*)||25.6%|
|Sea Salt||9 grams||2.1%|
|Water||305 grams (includes 30g for levain)||70.9%|
|Sourdough starter||30 grams (all for levain)||7%|
*Note: If you opt to not make a levain, use 90 grams of active sourdough starter.
🛠 Tools Needed
View my Sourdough Tools and Equipment guide for a complete list of my favorite bread-baking tools.
- Dutch Oven
- Baking Scale
- Bread Lame
- Or a sharp razor blade or sharp knife.
- Bench Scraper
- To assist with shaping.
- Banneton Proofing Basket
- I use this 10″ oval proofing banneton for baking batards (ovals) and a 9″ round banneton for boules (rounds).
- A proofing basket will help keep your dough shaped while it proofs overnight and removes easily from the basket with a liner. If you don’t have one, line a mixing bowl with a floured tea towel.
- Optional: Brød and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer
- This folding proofing box by Brød & Taylor is a game changer to keep your sourdough starter and doughs at the perfect temperature while proofing.
- The proofer folds up easily, includes a humidity tray, is multifunctional, and can even be a slow cooker.
- Optional: Grain Mill
- I used my NutriMill Harvest Grain Mill to mill whole einkorn berries to a fine texture. If you have a grain mill, I highly recommend milling your own berries for the freshest flavor and for incorporating the whole grain into the loaf. Plus, whole berries store much longer than flour.
- Optional: Danish Dough Whisk
- Mixing einkorn flour can be very sticky. I really like using a Danish dough whisk to help get the job done faster and with less mess. It’s an optional, but helpful tool that I’ve been using more and more.
🛒 Ingredients Needed
See below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
- Bread Flour
- I used King Arthur Bread Flour at 12.7% protein for recipe testing this bread. A high-gluten content flour pairs best with the einkorn since einkorn has a lower gluten content. This will result in a taller loaf that’s easier to shape, score, and blooms well in the oven.
- Einkorn Flour
- The most popular brand of einkorn flour is Jovial’s all-purpose einkorn flour (linked above), which you can use for this recipe.
- I used stone-milled einkorn flour from einkorn berries purchased in the bulk section of a local co-op. Milling your own flour keeps the bran and germ intact as whole-grain and adds even more flavor than bromated flour.
- Sourdough Starter
- Use active sourdough starter and not sourdough discard for this bread.
- You do not need an einkorn sourdough starter to make this recipe. However, if you have one, this is a great time to use it! I make an einkorn levain (or separate mini-sourdough starter) made of einkorn flour, water, and my 100% hydration sourdough starter.
- Don’t have a sourdough starter? Learn How to Make a Sourdough Starter and make a stronger sourdough starter with my top sourdough starter tips.
- Sea Salt
⏰ Sample Baking Schedule
This is my typical baking schedule for most sourdough breads. This schedule works well for a weekend bake. However, many steps are flexible, depending on your own day-to-day schedule.
For example, you can make the levain the night before (use 10g of starter and 40g of flour and 40g of water). You can also proof the dough overnight in the refrigerator for up to a day to bake on your own time.
|1. Make Levain||9:00am|
|3. Add Levain & Rest||2:30-3:00pm|
|4. Add Salt & Mix||3:00pm|
|5. Bulk Fermentation & Folds||3:05-8:00pm (4 to 5 hours)|
|7. Overnight Proof||8:15pm-9:00am (or up to a day)|
|8. Score and Bake||Next Day, 9:00am|
👨🍳 How to Make Beginner’s Einkorn Sourdough Bread
Follow this visual and detailed guide to help you make this delicious einkorn sourdough bread recipe.
1. Make the Levain
Mix 30 grams of sourdough starter, 30 grams of einkorn flour, and 30 grams of water in an empty jar.
Cover and set it in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until it’s bubbly and ripe. The levain should at least double in size during this time.
Note: Alternatively, skip this step and use 90 grams of an active einkorn sourdough starter in the recipe. To make an einkorn sourdough starter, follow the same steps on my day-by-day Sourdough Starter recipe guide, but use einkorn flour.
When the levain is ready, mix 320 grams of bread flour and 80 grams of einkorn flour in a mixing bowl.
Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour 275 grams of warm water into the bowl.
Use your hands or a Danish dough whisk to mix the flours and water well. The dough will be quite sticky.
Cover the bowl and set it aside to autolyse for at least 30 minutes.
3. Add Levain and Rest
When the levain is bubbly and ripe, add the levain.
Use your hands to dimple the levain into the dough. Then, stretch and fold the dough onto itself for a few minutes until you thoroughly incorporate the levain into the dough.
To stretch and fold:
- Use your hand as pincers to pull up a portion of the dough.
- Lift the dough to stretch it, then fold it down in the middle of the bowl.
- Rotate the bowl and repeat this motion.
Cover the bowl and rest it in a warm location for 30 minutes.
4. Add Salt & Mix
After 30 minutes, sprinkle 9 grams of sea salt onto the dough. At this point, you could add another 10-20 grams of water if you think the flour can handle it.
Then, dimple in the sea salt and begin mixing. Stretch and fold the dough for about 5 minutes until it’s smoother.
Cover the bowl and rest for 30 minutes.
5. Bulk Fermentation and Folds:
At 78ºF, bulk fermentation (first proof) takes about 4.5 to 5 hours. Einkorn tends to proof a little faster than other flours, so be careful to not push proofing too far.
If your dough and environment are colder, bulk fermentation will take longer. Conversely, in warmer conditions, bulk fermentation will be faster.
Note: An instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen is a great tool to check your dough temperature throughout bulk fermentation.
Stretch & Folds
Perform 4 or 5 sets of stretch and folds throughout bulk fermentation, spread 30 minutes apart.
To stretch and fold, use a wet hand to lift a portion of the dough, stretch it, and fold it down upon itself. Repeat three more times in the bowl for one set.
While breads with large amounts of einkorn flour will tear easily, this dough should still be pretty strong. The folds will continue to strengthen the dough throughout bulk fermentation and you should notice it becoming smoother and airier throughout.
If the dough is still very slack or weak after the last fold, you may need to add a couple of more folds.
The dough rests for the remainder of time until shaping.
Bulk fermentation is complete when the dough rises about 75%, feels full of air, and there are visible bubbles on top of and around the dough.
Since it can be a little slack, I stitch this dough in the banneton to add extra strength.
Cover and rest at room temperature for 15-30 minutes.
7. Overnight Proof:
With the banneton covered, place it in a cold refrigerator overnight and up to 24 hours.
The overnight proof, or retard, will give additional flavor to the dough and slow down fermentation.
You can typically proof bread in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days. However, einkorn has a tendancy to proof a little faster in the refrigerator, especially if you’re using freshly-milled flour.
To avoid over proofing, I recommend not proofing this longer than 24 hours in the refrigerator.
8. Score & Bake:
Place an empty Dutch oven into the oven and preheat it at 500ºF (260ºC) for an hour.
After an hour, remove the cold dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a small piece of parchment paper.
Then, score the dough using a sharp bread lame.
I usually score with one long slash for a batard (oval). For a boule (round), score the dough with a cross pattern in the center of the dough or another design. The score should be about ¼”-½” deep. If interested, I often share scoring videos on my Instagram.
Carefully place the scored dough with parchment into the Dutch oven and immediately cover it with the lid. Optionally, you can add a couple of ice cubes to the pan to increase steam. This can help you get a sourdough ear.
Bake at 500ºF (260ºC) for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn the oven down to 450ºF (232ºC), and bake with the lid off for about 15 minutes until the crust is dark brown.
Every oven bakes differently, so be sure to turn on the oven light to peak at the bread during baking so the crust doesn’t burn.
Cool the loaf on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.
Finally, enjoy cutting into this delicious and nutritious einkorn sourdough bread!
How to Store Einkorn Sourdough Bread
I like to store sourdough bread cut-side down once sliced. This helps the loaf retain moisture so it doesn’t dry out and become stale.
Luckily, whole wheat and whole-grain breads tend to retain moisture and stay fresher for longer than other breads. This includes einkorn sourdough bread.
To slice, cut the bread in half, turn it cut-side down, and then slice it with a sharp, serrated bread knife.
Then, wrap the loaf in a tea towel and place it in a bread bag, bread box, or brown paper bag, where it will stay fresh for about three days. After a few days, you may need to reheat or toast slices.
Unsliced, the bread will last another day or two without staling or losing too much moisture.
You can freeze einkorn sourdough bread by placing slices in a freezer-safe bag where it will keep for months. To thaw, reheat the frozen slices in a toaster oven, toaster, or oven.
❓Beginner’s Einkorn Sourdough Bread FAQs:
Can I use all-purpose einkorn flour?
Yes, Jovial’s all-purpose einkorn flour will work for this recipe.
Do I need an einkorn sourdough starter?
No, you do not need an einkorn sourdough to make einkorn sourdough bread. Make a levain (or separate sourdough starter) made with einkorn flour to incorporate into the bread.
Is einkorn flour gluten-free?
No. Einkorn flour contains gluten and is an ancient wheat, even though it has less gluten than modern wheat.
What are some other ancient grain recipes?
What does einkorn bread taste like?
Einkorn sbread tastes similar to whole wheat bread, but has a milder, nuttier, and smoother flavor. It adds a golden color to breads and is more nutritious than other whole wheats.
Is this recipe vegan?
Yes, this is a vegan einkorn sourdough bread recipe!
Beginner’s Einkorn Sourdough Bread
- Make the Levain:In a clean jar, mix the sourdough starter, einkorn flour, and water for the levain.Cover and set in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until doubled and bubbly.Alternatively, skip making a levain and use 90 grams of einkorn sourdough starter below.30 grams Sourdough Starter, 30 grams Einkorn Flour, 30 grams Water
- Autolyse:When the levain is ready, mix together the bread flours, einkorn flour, and water in a mixing bowl.Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in 275 grams of warm water.Use a dough whisk or your hands to mix together the flour and water just until it comes together.Cover and rest in a warm location for 30 minutes.320 grams Bread Flour, 80 grams Einkorn Flour, 275 grams Water
- Add Levain, Salt, and Mix:Add all of the levain into the bowl and dimple it into the dough. Then, stretch and fold the dough for a few minutes to incorporate.Cover and rest in a warm location for 30 minutes.Sprinkle the salt on top. Dimple the salt into the dough. Stretch and fold the dough for about 5 until thoroughly mixed and the salt dissolves. While mixing, if the dough seems stiff and you think the dough can handle it, you can add another 10-20 grams of water.Cover and rest in a warm location for 30 minutes.Levain, 9 grams Sea Salt
- Bulk Fermentation & Folds:At 78ºF (26ºC), bulk fermentation typically takes about 4.5-5 hours. Einkorn can proof faster, so it's better to err on the side of under-proofing here. During bulk fermentation, perform 4 or 5 sets of stretch and folds, spaced 30 minutes apart. Add more folds if the dough still seems very slack after the last set. Rest for the remainder of bulk fermentation.At the end of bulk fermentation, the dough should be smooth, feel full of air, have visible bubbles, and jiggle if shaken. The dough should rise about 75%.
- Shape:Lightly flour the top of the dough and the counter. Gently loosen the dough from the sides of the mixing bowl and turn the dough out onto the counter.With the help of a bench scraper, shape the dough into a batard (oval) or boule (round).Lift it up and place it into a floured banneton.Stitch the dough in the banneton if it's still slack.Cover and rest for 15-30 minutes.
- Cold Overnight Proof:Place the covered banneton into a refrigerator to proof overnight and for up to a day.
- Bake:Place the empty Dutch oven with lid in the oven and preheat for an hour at 500°F (260ºC).Once preheated, remove the banneton from the refrigerator and turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Score the dough with a sharp bread lame about ¼-½" deep.Transfer the scored dough to the Dutch oven and cover it with the lid.Bake at 500°F (260ºC) for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, lower the oven temperature to 450ºF (232ºC) and bake for about 15 minutes with the lid off.Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.Slice and enjoy!
- Try to keep the dough at a constant, warm temperature (between 75-80ºF) as much as possible throughout fermentation. I use the Brød and Taylor bread proofer to keep my dough at a constant 78ºF. If your dough and environment are cooler, bulk fermentation will take longer. Conversely, in warmer conditions, the dough will ferment faster.
- Read my guide above for a detailed walkthrough with photos and videos for shaping, scoring, and baking this bread.