Have you ever heard of einkorn flour? I’m always late to new trends and I can admit that it took me quite a while to catch onto the idea of using einkorn flour in my baking.
Einkorn flour has been generating quite the buzz these days. If you’ve been curious about using einkorn, but you’re not quite sure how to get started, you’re in the right place.
Einkorn is an ancient grain that has some awesome health benefits (you can read about some of them here). It’s being touted as a more nutritious option that is better for people with gluten intolerance and it is a more natural choice if you’re going to cook and make baked goods.
However, if you have only used regular all-purpose flour, it can take a little bit of practice to get used to einkorn. I have talked to more than one person that started out excited about buying their first bag of einkorn, but then made their first loaf of bread and ended up a little bit disappointed when the results were less than appealing.
That is why I am going to share exactly what you need to know to get started using this ancient flour to make bread and baked goods your family will enjoy. If you prefer listening rather than reading, I talk about einkorn flour in my podcast episode here:
What Exactly is Einkorn and Ancient Grains?
Sometimes I think this topic can be a little bit confusing, so let’s get started with a little background information and talk about what ancient grains are.
I like to think of ancient grains as being similar to heirloom vegetables: they are grains that have not been tinkered with or hybridized over the years. Both ancient grains and heirloom vegetables are things that have been maintained by gardeners/farmers/homesteaders for many years in an effort to keep them as-is.
The downfall here is that ancient grains aren’t well suited for modern large-scale agriculture operations because they haven’t been selectively bred to reduce disease or to be drought tolerant. So you’re not going to find your average wheat farmer incorporating einkorn in large quantities in their field.
The result of not having all that hybridization, however, is that they are actually really good for us.
Benefits of Einkorn and Ancient Grains
- Wheat Intolerance Issues
Many people have found that if they have trouble digesting modern wheat, they usually can often handle einkorn without an issue.
- Adds Nutrients to Baked Goods
Einkorn flour adds protein, fiber, and minerals to your baked goods.
- Richer Flavor
I personally love baking with einkorn because it gives the baked goods a very rich, nutty flavor. It’s way tastier than your typical white flour.
Why is Einkorn Flour Not Popular
The question that I think needs to be asked here is, “Why aren’t ancient grains more popular?” Why haven’t we seen them hit the market and become a bigger trend?
There are a few things to keep in mind as you’re venturing into Einkorn or other ancient grains for the first time: they can be a little bit fickle to work with in the kitchen. They give us that wonderful full flavor and they’re more nutritious, but einkorn, in particular, does not have the same baking qualities of conventional flour.
Einkorn flour can be more challenging to work with. For example, you’re going to find it doesn’t rise quite as high. The crumb is also a little heavier. That’s not to say you can’t have amazing results with Einkorn, but there is a little bit of a learning curve.
Another thing to consider when you are looking at starting to use einkorn flour in your kitchen is that it comes with a slightly higher price tag than other flour options.
If you have been on this homesteading journey for any amount of time, then you’re probably well acquainted with the idea of paying a bit more for higher-quality ingredients. I think it’s worth it to buy these high quality ingredients that are better for us and more ethically produced. You can learn more about why I think it’s important to buy local food sources and good-quality ingredients here.
For me, yes, einkorn costs a little bit more than the cheap bleached flour at the grocery store, but truly there is no comparison with the taste, nutrients, and quality. I really enjoy baking with einkorn.
Storing Ground Einkorn Flour
Just a reminder: if you are buying ground whole wheat einkorn flour, you will want to be really mindful of how you store it. As with all whole wheat flours, they tend to go rancid quickly. This doesn’t mean that they’re inferior or that you shouldn’t use them.
Ground whole wheat flour is full of its’ natural oils, germ, and bran, which causes it to go bad more quickly. So if you are going to purchase einkorn flour in pre-ground form, I would suggest getting either the all-purpose einkorn flour or keeping your whole wheat einkorn flour in the freezer when it’s not in use.
If you are 100% wanting to start using einkorn for all of your from-scratch meals from now on, another alternative is to invest in a grain mill and purchase einkorn berries and then grind the berries as you need them.
If you are interested in learning more about grain mills and grinding whole wheat/grain berries, take a look at my article on How to Use a Grain Mill to Make Your Own Flour from Wheat Berries. This will ensure that you have the very freshest flour available and probably save you some money in the long run (also head’s up: we are covering grinding wheat berries and other grains in-depth in an upcoming Project Homestead month (January 2022), if you want to delve into grinding grains with me).
Baking with Einkorn Flour
Let’s walk through some of the basics for baking with Einkorn flour. As mentioned earlier, Einkorn definitely acts differently than other types of flour. It’s really important to remember this and keep it in mind. You cannot (usually) take a regular wheat flour bread recipe and replace the wheat flour with einkorn without making some adjustments.
Here are some of the most important things to remember as you bake with Einkorn:
#1 You can substitute Einkorn flour one-to-one for regular WHOLE WHEAT flour in most recipes (although you may need to reduce the liquid by up to about 15%…more about liquid in #2).
If you have a recipe using regular whole wheat flour, you can probably substitute whole wheat einkorn flour, one-to-one without too much issue. What you do NOT want to do is substitute whole wheat einkorn flour if you have a recipe that calls for all-purpose flour, because that will need some adjustments. It’s not going to be super palatable trying to go one-to-one in that scenario.
#2 Einkorn absorbs liquid slower than other flours. As you add the liquid ingredients into your dough, give it a little bit of time to absorb. Einkorn absorbs liquid more slowly and might end up needing less liquid than other flours. Also with einkorn doughs, you won’t see that smooth elastic dough that you’re used to with regular yeast bread recipes. Einkorn doughs are going to be much stickier and wetter and it can be a little bit surprising when you see that for the first time.
#3 Einkorn doughs rise slower than you’re used to (especially if they contain ingredients like eggs, milk, butter).
Over time, I have gotten to know how our climate, altitude, and my ingredients work together. I know that I can usually mix up a batch of normal-flour dough, let it rise in a warm place, and within 45 minutes, it’s ready for the next step. However, einkorn doesn’t work quite like that; it takes a little bit longer and you will want to plan that into your schedule.
#4 You should also not expect your einkorn doughs to rise as high as you would a traditional wheat dough. A good rule of thumb is to let it rise by about half and call it good, because it’s not going to be that giant puffy rise that you’re used to from a traditional wheat dough.
EXTRA TIP: If you are just getting your first bag of einkorn flour and you’re a little bit nervous about using it, I would highly recommend starting with some non-yeast Einkorn recipes.
Start with something that doesn’t have to rise and doesn’t need a lot of gluten development: make something like einkorn cookies or einkorn quick bread. Making these will give you some experience using the flour. It will help you see how Einkorn absorbs liquids and help you start to figure out their rise times.
A great example of an einkorn yeast dough that I always think of is einkorn cinnamon rolls. This recipe is included in my heritage cooking crash course, which is my cooking course to help you learn heritage and old-fashioned cooking techniques that won’t take all of your time. If you watch the Heritage Cooking Crash Course video for my Einkorn Cinnamon Rolls recipe, you can see right on camera that the dough does not get as puffy or full as your traditional cinnamon rolls do.
I have also noticed that there isn’t a lot of change from when I start the rise to when I finished the rise with my Einkorn Cinnamon Rolls. Once I have baked them, they definitely puff up, but the cinnamon rolls themselves are just a little more compact. It doesn’t affect the flavor at all; the cinnamon rolls are fantastic, and people love eating them. I have made them for guests, and they get rave reviews, but if you’re expecting that giant puffy, fluffy cinnamon roll, you’re going to be a little disappointed.
You simply have to accept einkorn for what it is, and don’t try to make it be regular wheat. I personally believe that the really extra flavor, extra digestibility, and that gorgeous yellow, rich coloring totally make up for the little bit of extra hassle.
Where to find Einkorn Flour
Einkorn flour isn’t usually sold at your everyday grocery store, so if you are having trouble finding einkorn flour, there are a few places I would suggest getting it online:
- First, you may want to look into websites that sell Jovial einkorn flour. Their einkorn comes directly from the source, and it is a great company and its high quality. Jovial also have einkorn wheat berries that are an excellent option for long-term storage.
- You could also check Thrive Market; they are a membership that offers different healthier food choices that can be shipped right to your door. Thrive Market sells the jovial food brand einkorn all-purpose and whole wheat flours.
- Azure Standard is another excellent source for all-things-einkorn. This is a food co-op that is getting more and more popular, but you’ll have to check their website to see if there is a drop-off location near where you live.
Try Your Hand at Baking with Einkorn Flour!
I cannot wait for you to try einkorn! Once you try your first einkorn recipe, please comment, and post a picture and tag me on Instagram. I would love to celebrate right along with you.
More About From Scratch Cooking:
My Versatile Easy Dough Recipe (for rolls, bread, pizza, cinnamon rolls, and more)