I love the bread I’ve been making since taking a terrific one-day class in sourdough with Sharon O’Leary at King Arthur Flour’s Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vermont (www.kingarthurflour.com/baking/). That and buying my second copy (the first was lost or stolen before I ever even opened it) of Jeffrey Hamelman’s totally authoritative Bread. Oh, and having a handy link to King Arthur’s on-line baking classes to answer almost any question I might come up with. And probably I should also credit the sourdough starter I brought home from Norwich at the end of the class.
This week I’ve had even more of a love affair with bread since I started using einkorn flour and soaked einkorn wheat berries from Eli Rogosa who grows einkorn, a very ancient wheat (Triticum monococcum), along with emmer (T. monococcum), almost as old as einkorn, and a wheat called Red Lamas that is said to be the first wheat grown in Massachusetts, along with many other heritage varieties—all produced in fields in Colrain, Massachusetts, or Canaan, Maine, and milled practically on site (learn more at www.growseed.org) . Eli is ultra-passionate about the wheats she grows and is not alone in her conviction that one big factor in the gluten controversy is the way modern, post 1950s wheat varieties have evolved with different and more challenging gluten structures than older varieties.
The important part for me, however, was how this einkorn flour would perform and I will say unequivocally it performed very well, creating a dense structure and a very fine delicately sweet flavor with the fresh taste of wheat. I used a sourdough starter built with all-purpose flour, to which I added 3 cups more of all-purpose flour plus about ¾ cup of rye flour and 2 cups of einkorn. With next week’s batch, I intend to make the einkorn predominant.
One other critical factor in my opinion is the use of steam injection. I keep a black iron skillet in the bottom of the oven and have a tea kettle of water boiling when I’m ready to put the bread in. As soon as the bread trays have gone into the oven, I add about an inch of boiling water to the skillet and close the oven door, not to open it again for about 40 minutes. This decidedly helps create a crisp, golden, caramelized crust—a Maillard reaction that floods the kitchen with the irresistible aroma of freshly baked bread.
A slick of good butter or a glug of olive oil and I’m in heaven.