Enkorn (einkorn) is the oldest wheat variety available today and is being hailed by some as a "superfood". Enkorn means, literally, one-grain in Swedish. In English we have adopted the German spelling, but the literal translation is the same.
Research has shown that enkorn was farmed across Sweden as far back as the early Iron Age. When the climate deteriorated farming of enkorn died out on mainland Sweden, although it continued for some time on Gotland (an island off the east coast of Sweden) because of its better climate.
Modern wheat varieties were developed from enkorn by cross-breeding. The genetic tweaks led to varieties of wheat that were shorter (so less likely to fall over), with larger grains, easier to harvest and more resistant to pests and droughts. To top it all the increase in yields was spectacular, so farmers in Sweden (and elsewhere) stopped growing enkorn completely.
But just as yields rocketed, so did reports of people suffering from gluten allergies. This triggered many people to take a fresh look at einkorn. The conclusions were clear: einkorn is healthier than modern wheats. Einkorn contains higher levels of protein, essential fatty acids and many minerals. Also, and for many this is more important, its gluten is different, which means that many people who can not tolerate gluten are still able it. Finally, analysis shows that einkorn is like most plants and only has 12 chromosomes, compared to 42 in modern wheat. As a consequence, einkorn is easier to digest.
I certainly recommend introducing some einkorn into your diet. Not only is it healthier than modern wheats, it has more flavour and as no kneading is involved, baking a loaf is so easy. Give it a try! John Duxbury
• Einkorn flour can be bought in good health food shops and online.
• Einkorn dough can oxidise if exposed to light, so use a ceramic bowl and cover the dough to protect it from light.
• The dough is quite sticky, but needs no kneading or a second rise.
• Slice the loaf thinly as for rye bread. Excellent with cheese.
|500 g||stoneground wholemeal einkorn flour|
|1 tsp||salt, preferably sea salt|
|1 tsp||"fast action" or "quick" dried yeast|
|400 g||water at room temperature|
We recommend weighing flour and water using digital scales.
1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Add the yeast and mix again.
3. Add the water and briefly mix to form a dough. Cover with a shower-cap or clingfilm (food wrap) and a tea towel. Leave at room temperature overnight, or for at least 10 hours, by which time the dough will have swelled as shown above, although it will still be quite sticky.
4. Preheat the oven to 250°C (480°F, gas 9, fan 220°C).
5. When the oven is up to temperature, lightly oil a 1 kg (2 lb) loaf tin and a piece of aluminium foil.
6. Scrape the dough into the loaf tin, smooth the top with a knife, lightly cover the dough with the foil and then bake for 30 minutes.
7. Remove the foil and reduce the temperature to 220°C (425°F, gas 7, fan 180°C) and bake for a further 30 minutes.
8. Turn the loaf out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.
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