Einkorn is one of the earliest cultivated wheats and what’s referred to as an ancient grain, like spelt, rye, khorasan, and emmer, among others. It was commonly used to make bread in parts of northern Europe for several hundred years, and remains a popular ingredient in German bakeries today.
This is a lower-gluten bread, which has some caveats, so be sure to read through all of the notes and instructions beginning. If you’re used to baking with white flour it’s a rather different process and end result.
The resulting 100% einkorn bread is, of course, delicious and flavourful. The crumb is slightly denser than spelt – more similar to rye bread – and makes a good toast.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
There’s much to be said for baking with alternative flours. They have a great taste on their own with no need for additions like seeds or long ferment times, it’s generally easier to digest, and fun to experiment with.
- You might have an easier time with einkorn: I have some digestive trouble with standard wheat flour but find other grains like einkorn (and my go-to- spelt) don’t cause any problems.
- It’s a good basic bread: this makes an excellent standard sandwich or toast loaf with just a bit of a flavour boost.
- It’s made with whole grains: while you can use sifted flour, this recipe is specifically made with all whole-grain einkorn for extra fibre and protein.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Flour: as mentioned, this is made with whole grain flour. Sifted should be fine in the same quantities but I haven’t tested with it.
- Honey: sub maple syrup for a fully vegan bread if needed.
- Oil: I usually use olive oil, but any oil that’s liquid at room temperature will work.
Step by Step
1. Mix wet ingredients: whisk the yeast, oil, and honey into the water.
2. Add part of the flour: stir in about a third of the flour. This makes it easier to mix.
3. Mix the dough: stir in the remaining flour and the salt to make a shaggy dough.
4. Knead: let the dough rest for a few minutes before kneading into a smooth ball.
5. Rise: place the dough back into the mixing bowl and rise until doubled. (Pictured is slightly over-proved).
6. Shape: press the dough into a rectangle, then roll into a spiral and place in a bread tin.
7. Rise again: set the bread aside to rise again until puffy.
8. Bake: until golden brown, about 40 minutes. This bread is quite dark after baking.
You can probably use a bread machine for this recipe, but I’ve never tried. My only concern would be that the automatic settings would result in a too long kneading time for the lower-gluten flour.
This may be a slightly stickier dough than you’re used to, but resist adding too much more flour. I really recommend using weight measurements for bread baking unless you can go by feel, but even then, note that the dough is a bit sticky even after kneading.
Don’t worry about some slight tearing at the top of the loaf after it rises (pre-bake). Even if you’re an expert shaper, this dough has a tendency to break slightly either during rising or baking.
My dough over-proved slightly as there was a strong sun the day I did the process shots, but the bread still turned out well – just less smooth on the top. My kitchen temperature was about 28°C that day, and the rising time should be reduced by about a quarter when it’s so warm.
You might see a bubble or two near the top of the loaf after baking. This is normal for this type of whole grain bread.
How to Store
Storage: keep the cool loaf in a sealed container (I use a heavy lidded pot) for the best results. It will keep for 2-3 days at room temperature but, like most yeast breads, is best fresh.
Freezing: this freezes well either in individual slices or the full loaf. Slices can be toasted directly from the freezer but to thaw a whole loaf I recommend wrapping in a tea towel until thawed to avoid soggy bread.
- Don’t over-knead: the kneading time is always shorter with ancient grain breads due to the lower gluten content. Over-kneading will result in a cake-like crumb.
- Check your yeast: if you’re not sure if the yeast you’re using is still active, wait about 15 minutes after step one. If the mixture hasn’t bubbled up, you need new yeast.
- Refrigerate yeast: on the same note, dry yeast should be stored in the refrigerator for the longest shelf life. Don’t store it in the pantry, as it can get too warm and won’t be active enough for bread baking.
More Ancient Grain Bread Recipes
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- 300 ml water room temperature
- 2 ¼ teaspoon dry yeast (1/2 cube fresh)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 550 grams einkorn flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Add the water to a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast, oil, and honey, and whisk to combine.300 ml water, 2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey
- Add about a third of the flour to the bowl and mix to combine. Add the remaining flour and salt, and stir until a shaggy dough forms.550 grams einkorn flour, 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Cover the dough for ten minutes and let it rest before kneading. This allows the whole grains to absorb some of the water and makes the dough easier to work with.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding a sprinkling of flour when needed (don't add too much). After about six minutes, the dough should be soft and smooth. Don't over work it.
- Place the kneaded dough back into the mixing bowl and cover with tea towel or plate. Set aside to rise until doubled, about an hour at room temperature.
- Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press it into a rough rectangle (one edge should be the length of your bread tin). Make sure the dough isn't sticking to the work surface, then roll it into a tight spiral.
- Line a bread tin with parchment paper, or grease with a light-tasting oil.
- Place the dough seam-side down into the prepared bread tin. Cover and set aside to rise again until puffy but not doubled, about half an hour.
- While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Once the dough has risen, bake the bread for 40-45 minutes, or until a dark golden brown. You can check the interior temperature with a thermometer (it should be 90°C or about 190°F when baked).
- Cool the bread for about ten minutes before removing from the tin and cooling fully on a wire rack. Keep in an airtight container or wrap well to store. This bread freezes well.