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Baking with Einkorn: an Interview with a Farmer & Tips for Use in Whole Wheat Recipes

Einkorn grain and flour on white plates.

Have you ever baked with Einkorn?

As an ancient grain with a unique gluten structure, Einkorn is becoming more popular these days. But do you need to find special new recipes, or can you just translate your old favorite whole wheat recipes to Einkorn?

Specific Einkorn recipes aren’t a bad idea, because it does act MUCH differently than modern whole wheat, but it’s possible to have good luck translating favorite recipes from one to the other.

I’m learning about Einkorn bit by bit over the years, starting by dabbling with Einkorn pasta in this recipe (not so hard to do, prepared pasta is easy!!) and then digging into more research about why Einkorn flour is different than modern wheat flour.

Today you’ll hear from an Einkorn farmer in Idaho, all about growing and baking with Einkorn, plus its fascinating history and why people are embracing it today.

Video: Einkorn Wheat vs. Modern Wheat vs. Spelt from a Farmer Growing Einkorn

 
If you can’t view the video above, click Einkorn Wheat vs. Modern Wheat from a Farmer Growing Einkorn to see it directly on YouTube.

Grab the Audio:

Click here to download the mp3 version of the interview (to take with you) or just listen to it now without taking the resources on your device for video.

Einkorn flour and grains on plates. Pictures of Katie Kimball from Kitchen Stewardship and Jade an American Einkorn farmer.

Notes On Interview with Jade, an American Einkorn Farmer

For those of you who feel like you don’t have time to watch a whole video, you can skip around to the parts you’re most interested in using these notes – and there’s plenty of info below without watching the video at all too. 😉

1. What is Einkorn?

  • 0:32 How is Einkorn different from most current day wheat?
  • 1:28 The genetic history of wheat: Varieties of grasses began to cross, one of which was a wild rye, which formed a 14 chromosome wheat which is Einkorn.
  • 2:29 The gluten structure of Einkorn is different than most – listen here to find out how and why. It contains only the A chromosome. Modern wheat has the D chromosome, which was created thousands of years after the A chromosome.
  • 2:45 What’s the history of Einkorn and how it is linked historically to mankind? Einkorn was found in a cave man’s digestive tract and on his clothing.
  • 5:14 Einkorn differs from other wheat varieties, Jade explains here how that came about.
  • 6:12 What makes an ancient wheat?
    There are three main kinds.
    1. Diploid species, which is Einkorn, and 14 chromosomes.
    2. Emmer (crossed with a cousin of Einkorn) Tetraploid which is a Diploid x Diploid.
    3. Spelt, which is the most similar to modern-day wheat, and has 42 chromosomes. Yet we still call spelt an ancient grain, when it’s really a relatively new cousin to einkorn! 
  • 7:45 How did we end up with Einkorn in the US if it was originally from Turkey? The US government gathered the various seeds and then studied them. They brought home over 300 varieties of Einkorn.
  • 8:23 Einkorn in today’s commercial sector of agriculture: Who is growing it? Is it common? How many different varieties are there? Production is very limited but it is growing.
  • 9:29 Summary of how Einkorn came about with its crossing in history.
  • 10:10 Understanding hybridization in plants. Hybridization is a natural process that occurs in plants but modern farmers can also encourage it. Katie explains why it is NOT genetic modification in Einkorn.

2. Why didn’t Einkorn increase in chromosomes or disappear as a variety? 10:36

  • 11:10 Do I (Jade) need a buffer between my Einkorn field and that of a neighbor to preserve the integrity of the crop? Jade contacted the researcher from Oregon, who was responsible for finding GMO wheat in 2013 in the US when it was illegal, and she explained that Einkorn has been in nature for thousands of years without causing hybridization.
  • 13:40 Check this out here to see examples of Einkorn and wheat – thanks for the great live examples, Jade!  Hard red wheat (regular grocery store wheat flour) vs. Einkorn.
  • 14:25 Einkorn and wheat will not hybridize and Einkorn will actually resist rust disease, one of the biggest risks for crops. Research is currently in the works to find a way to breed Einkorn with modern day wheat so that the disease resistant qualities will then be in the wheat plant.
  • 15:25 Jade’s family’s goal is to preserve Einkorn in its original form. They grow two varieties of Einkorn, a spring, and a fall version. They are also responsible for propagating their own wheat and ensure that the source remains true. This allows them to preserve Einkorn and also produce enough for consumers.
  • 16:35 Growing Einkorn is more labor intensive and the yields (what you get per acre grown) are not as high as regular wheat. So the cost of Einkorn is impacted by these two factors. Einkorn yields 20-25% compared to regular wheat.

3. What are the qualities that scientists are seeing in Einkorn that they are trying to put into whole wheat flour to improve it?  Why would it be wise to experiment with Einkorn, even if you love modern whole wheat flour?

  • Jade’s Einkorn website
  • 18:10 – Agricultural Benefits – Einkorn has fewer diseases. Einkorn is rust disease resistant. What type of threat is rust disease to our food supply?
“Rust disease is the largest threat we have to our food supply today.”

“Rust disease develops inside of the plant, and if you see it on a plant it just kind of takes the head of wheat and it grows around it. It looks scary, like a Frankenstein, it’s like a fungus basically that develops on wheat. In fields where this has happened, they’ve had to destroy the wheat. They couldn’t harvest it and they have to not take any equipment in there or equipment that has been in there has to be sanitized so they don’t spread this rust to other areas. Because if it were to go widespread we would lose our food supply.”
  • 19:30 Baking Benefits – the biggest difference the consumer sees is the flavor of Einkorn compared to regular wheat products.  Einkorn has a rich-nutty flavor.
    • 20:17 – Jade’s favorite way to eat Einkorn: Einkorn Tortillas
    • 20:40 – A creative way to use Einkorn in its whole form is on salads.
      • Take whole grain Einkorn and pour a little avocado oil, salt, and pepper in the bottom of a pan. Heat it up and add the whole Einkorn and pop similarly to how you would pop popcorn (they do not visually pop but you can hear them pop).
  • 21:17 Nutritional and Digestive Benefits – Einkorn has higher values of antioxidants. Einkorn is higher in protein content but it is not as easy to bake with as other wheat. The key to great bread with Einkorn is to NOT over mix it. 23:20
    • The biggest reason people go to Einkorn is because of the digestive standpoint.
“In labs, they have studied it and have found that it has a lower toxicity than modern wheat.  So it has possibilities for sufferers of Celiac Disease, they say. But we always recommend that people who have Celiac disease don’t consume gluten of course and they work with their doctor because that is a very difficult disease that is still being understood and should not have gluten of any kind in it. But having said that we do have people who have had very serious digestive issues and allergies to gluten who can consume Einkorn. And they say it’s the only wheat that they can eat.”

4. Does Jade sell just the whole grain or do they have a flour option too for consumers?

  • 24:19 – Jade’s family sells both on their website. Jade’s family is working to make the wheat purchasing process more like a farmer’s market by removing the middleman and keeping the Einkorn products fresh and ready for you. They ship straight from their farm to you, the consumer.

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Katie Kimball from Kitchen Stewardship opening her Mockmill grain mill.

Click over to Mockmill using this link for the free gifts.

5. Wikipedia says Einkorn is not good for bread baking. Jade suggests it can be done but you just need to learn how to use Einkorn properly (not over mixing in terms of bread making). What are some shifts that people need to do to bake or cook with Einkorn? Do you need a special recipe or can we adapt our family favorites to try with Einkorn?

  • 27:28 – You can but you need to adjust the liquid in the recipe.  Reduce the water.  Einkorn requires less water to hydrate. You will end up reducing the water needed by 30-50%. Jade recommends starting by reducing it by 30% and then working your individual recipe preferences from there. He also says that the dough will be sticky and it requires less rise time.
  • 30:35 – The temptation of adding more flour since your dough is sticky is challenging. Follow Jade’s advice here and you will be ready to go. Jade’s wife’s perfect Einkorn bread.

When people are buying flour there are all these rules and layers that people need to learn. What is all-purpose compared to whole wheat? It means that the bran and the germ are taken out, along with most of the nutrition.

6. Are there any techniques to buying Einkorn flour or grains, anything to watch out for to make sure it’s not too processed? Or is it still pretty pure since processing hasn’t gotten into it?

  • 31:16 – Buying Jade’s families organic flour is free from all of those toxins that make a “white flour”. His is considered to be a white flour even though it does not have the bleaching done to it, so it will appear yellowish in color.
  • 32:35 – Jovial flour which can be found in stores in berry or flour form. Baking with Jovial brand versus Jade’s family will show you a very different product.

You can’t bake with all Einkorn the same way. Different brands of Einkorn will perform differently in the same recipe. 30:30

Einkorn, though considered an ancient wheat, is not always a whole grain. The flour, in general, has been refined so it is not whole grain.  33:14

  • 34:30 – Jade shows and explains how his wheat head is different from that of Jovial. This shows that there is a difference in the varieties of Einkorn that are grown.
Einkorn flour, spelt flour and red wheat flour in small white bowls. Picture below is einkorn flour and grains on white plates.

How to Transfer Your Favorite Whole Wheat Recipe to Use Einkorn

Yeast bread is always a little finicky, so I recommend starting with a pancake or muffin recipe, then move on to something like tortillas or crackers or pizza, and then try yeast bread once you get the feel of Einkorn a bit more.

Here are some general guidelines for baking with Einkorn (but using a whole wheat recipe):

  • Cut the water in the recipe by one-third or even half, especially if there are a lot of other “wet” ingredients like eggs or oil. If there’s hardly any water, the Einkorn version might need almost the same (like tortillas or crackers).
    • This means that if you’re making a recipe with 2 cups water, you would try 1 1/3 cup (33% less). If your recipe doesn’t have water but only eggs and oil, etc., you can increase the Einkorn flour slightly. I’d start with only 10-20%, and if you’re making something like muffins that you can add more flour at the end, add a bit more until the consistency looks like you expect (measure it so you know for next time!)
  • For yeast bread, cut the rise time in half and do a visual to see if the loaf has doubled. Einkorn acts differently with yeast and typically rises faster.
  • Knead yeast breads very little if at all. If you over-knead, it doesn’t rise as well, because you’ll end up breaking the gluten chains.
    • The gluten in Einkorn really is different! Einkorn bread recipes instruct you to fold the dough in half about 6 times rather than an official “5 minutes” of kneading like you might see in modern whole wheat recipes.

During the Grinding Grain Challenge Series, you’ll get to hear how I put Einkorn into muffins, tortillas, biscuits and more – they didn’t all turn out perfectly, but you can learn from my mistakes! 😉

Mockmill and whole grains to grind
 

More Grain Grinding Challenge Series Posts

The Grinding Challenge Series is getting me to use my Mockmill grain mill! Here’s what we’re covering:

Plus where to find einkorn and unlock your special offer on the Mockmill HERE.

Recipes We’ve Worked on in the Series:

Don’t worry, if you don’t have a grain mill or couldn’t imagine yourself grinding grain yourself, I’ll be sure to address when any of these CAN’T be done with commercial flour. Usually, recipes are very compatible! 

2 thoughts on “Baking with Einkorn: an Interview with a Farmer & Tips for Use in Whole Wheat Recipes”

  1. Hi! Could you possibly do a chapter that translates all purpose flour to einkorn, spelt and whole wheat? I notice you do a whole wheat translates to einkorn, but a lot of recipes are in all purpose. Thanks so much!

    1. This is a great question, Amy! I haven’t done a lot with the AP einkorn flour, but I would try a recipe you know well (muffins?) that uses regular AP flour, and try AP einkorn (not whole grain). I’m guessing it’s either going to be 1-to-1 or more likely, similar to this – reducing the liquid by 1/4 or more. 🙂 Katie

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