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Making your own einkorn sour dough bread and starter

Here is how to make your own sour dough starter from scratch using einkorn flour. Sour dough adds a wonderful flavor to bread that actually does not have to be sour at all. Sourness comes from an imbalance of acetic and lactic acid, both produced during the natural fermentation of just flour and water. Sour dour bread from San Francisco or also from Germany have a characteristic pungent sour flavor. What we are going to share is closer to French sour dough, yielding a nice flavor with just a hint of sour that you will learn to love much more than the flavor of dry active yeast. Plus, the enzymes produced in this lovely and miraculous process, will help predigest the wheat, making it even easier on your stomach. Pure einkorn wheat made with sour dough yields a bread you can really feel good about! 

First, consider the day and time to start. Your loaf will be baking on the fifth day or fourth day after you start, but you will have to be home to refresh and be home most of the last day for kneading, proofing and baking. We started on Monday at 2pm and had bread baked on Friday at 8pm. (That is just the first time, after this, it will take the normal time that it takes to bake bread.)

DAY 1

3 tbsp. (45g) warm water

1/2 cup (75g) of einkorn flour

Mix flour and water together in a small bowl to form a wet dough that is firm enough to form into a ball. It will stick to your hands, but try not to add much more flour as you do not want it to be dry. Store in a sealed glass container, with lid and/or plastic wrap for 48 hours at room temperature in a kitchen cabinet.

DAY 3

starter (discard the surface)

3 tbsp. (45g) warm water

1/2 cup (75g) of einkorn flour

With a spoon, push and remove the darker surface and don’t worry, it is not mold. Spoon out the remaining starter to a small bowl, add water and flour and follow the steps from Day 1, but you can dust with a little bit more flour if needed, but always being careful not to dry it out. Store in the sealed container, making sure it is thoroughly clean and dry, for 24 hours.

DAY 4

Repeat the same steps from day 3, but store for roughly 12-16 hours to suit your schedule.

DAY 5

You do not have to discard the surface of the starter anymore. First, you will set aside and refresh (or feed more flour and water) a portion of the sour dough for future baking. Record the date so you will be able to tell people how old your starter is if you keep it going for years, as many people do.

REFRESHING YOUR STARTER

1 tbsp. (10g) starter

2 tbsp. (25g) warm water

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. (45-50g) of einkorn flour

To refresh, dissolve starter in warm water, add flour and knead briefly to form a ball of dough. Store in a kitchen cabinet in a sealed glass container for 10-12 hours, no more than 18 hours. When it is hot in the summer or if you live in a warm climate, 6-8 is better, as everything is accelerated with warmer temperatures.

This starter will be maintained by refreshing and storing in the refrigerator what is not used to make bread. When I started, I was afraid to put my starter in the refrigerator and kept refreshing each day until it was strong and had a nice flavor. The refrigerator can give the starter sourness and I did not like that. You might refresh twice a week, even if you are not making bread, keeping out at room temperature each time for up to 12 hours. The night before you want to bake bread, you will take a little out of the refrigerator and make a preferment that we will explain later in this post.

TIME TO MAKE THE LOAF

remaining starter

4 cups (600g) einkorn flour

1 3/4 (300g) cup warm water 

1 tsp. (5g) sea salt

Add unsifted flour to large mixing bowl. Mix in salt. Pour warm water in the starter to loosen and add to flour with a spatula, along with the remaining water. Einkorn is best when kneading briefly and by hand, but if you use a standing mixer, use low speed. Form a ball of dough that is firm, adding a bit more flour if necessary so it is not too sticky, but you should just have to dust a bit lightly and not add a lot.

Place in a covered ceramic bowl. After 20 minutes, turn the dough to activate the leavening process for a loftier loaf. To turn the dough, flatten on countertop and fold in each corner as shown in the pictures that follow, kneading back to a ball and placing back in the bowl. This should be done 3 times in the first hour at 20, 40 and 60 minutes then let proof at room temperature for 1 hour more.

Form your loaf by rolling and tucking to the shape you desire. It is best to place the loaf to proof in a 100% linen cloth, dusted with flour, lining a basket that is the same shape as your loaf. Remember to place the good side with no folds down so when you fold it out, it will be on the top in the oven. Cover with the cloth or plastic wrap and let stand for one more hour.

Preheat oven to 425 F for 15 minutes, with the baking tray inside. Remove hot tray, have a sharp knife or baker’s razor in reach. Flip loaf on tray, slash the top to help the dough to expand properly during baking and bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes, rotating after 20. The crust will get very dark, but this will give you the best quality crumb. If you like a lighter crust, experiment later with another loaf at a lower temperature and compare. Set on a rack to cool for at least one hour before slicing. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days, no need for a plastic bag, just wrap in cotton or in a bread box. Your loaf might be compact on the first try and will get lighter as your starter gains strength.

MAKING A PREFERMENT AND MORE LOAVES

It is easy to store you starter in the refrigerator and just take out 1 tbsp at a time and make a preferment the night before baking. When the starter in the refrigerator gets low, you must refresh again.

PREFERMENT

2 tbsp (25g) starter

1/2 cup (115g) warm water

3/4 cup (115g) einkorn flour

Dissolve starter in water, beat in flour with fork until you have a paste similar to thick pancake batter. Use a large glass container that you can add a few cups of water to tomorrow, seal with lid and/or plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 8-10 hours. This preferment works well for up to 600g or 4 cups of flour.

MAKING A LOAF WITH THE PREFERMENT

preferment

4 cups (600g) einkorn flour

1 3/4 cup (300g) warm water

1 tsp (6g) sea salt

Add flour to large mixing bowl, mix in salt. Add warm water to starter to loosen, stir in to flour and knead and proceed with the loaf as instructed above in your first loaf.

Please note, it is best to use a kitchen scale. We have measured the flour unsifted and not packed, just lifting it out of the bag but the quantities always weight differently. This is not an exact science, you have to use instinct and keep practicing until you get perfect. If you use a scale, it is easy because the amount of water or the sum of all liquids, including milk, maple syrup or oil, in your recipe, should add up to half the weight of the flour. If you follow this rule, you can convert any bread recipe to einkorn sour dough. Just use the preferment to replace the baker’s yeast and use the 1 to 2 rule, water to flour in weight not volume.

You don’t have to make a preferment. You can use refreshed starter to make bread the same day. If you are using a scale, you will dissolve 25% of the weight of the flour as sourdough. For example, for 600g of flour you will first dissolve 150g of starter in 300g of water to make your dough. The only thing is you should let the dough proof for an extra hour after turning the dough.

We have also made sour dough bread in a bread machine. We created a memorized cycle as follows-

Rest- skip

Knead and Rest Cycle- 45 minutes

Proof 1- 1 hour

Proof 2- 2 hours

Bake- Dark Crust

The cycle lasts 4:45 minutes and works well with the same recipe above.

We have included pictures of each step on each day so you know how things should look. We will be happy to answer questions, send to info@jovialfoods.com. Good luck!

View Photos from Day 1

View Photos from Day 3

View Photos from Day 4

View Photos from Day 5

View Photos- Baking the Loaf

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