We aren’t the first, and we certainly won’t be the last, to be amazed by the fantastic results that a home baker can get by baking bread in a Dutch oven placed inside your regular oven. We were, however, perhaps the most disappointed when we finally tried this incredibly easy and satisfying way to make real bread at home, only to be told about a month later that in fact, we needed to eliminate bread (and lots of other stuff) from our diets due to Franck’s high blood sugar! What??!!! Just when we had mastered this phenomenal technique and were enjoying artisanal-style bread made at home for the first time?
We attacked this injustice head-on: we educated ourselves about grains and blood and sugar and all that good stuff, and started using Einkorn flour, which is naturally low-glycemic, low-gluten, and high protein, instead of wheat in many recipes, from pasta, to cookies, to pizza dough. Bread, of course, was the last frontier, since the flour is so low-gluten. We were pretty doubtful that we could make anything that would hold together enough and not crumble to bits. There are, however, a few ways to develop gluten for bread-baking. One is the long knead, of course, and that can be really sticky with doughs for artisanal loaves which have more humidity than a typical bread dough that will “clean the sides of the bowl” the way you might be used to. The other thing that allows gluten to develop to make a nice, chewy, silky bread, is TIME. What a beautiful thing! This bread-making technique, famously called the “NO-knead Bread” by Jim Leahy of Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC, uses only time to develop the bread’s structure (and, a happy correlary-effect, flavor!) before you heat a Dutch oven in your regular oven, and then pop the sticky bread dough into that after about 24 hrs of resting/rising. We made an Einkorn sourdough using a grated potato, a cup of Einkorn flour, and a tablespoon of honey, left out on the counter partially-covered for about a week until it’s all bubbly and sour, and we use about a 1/2 cup of this per loaf, instead of any yeast. If you don’t have sourdough starter, however, you can just use a 1/4 t of dry yeast in your mix. Either way, get ready to try the easiest bread you’ll ever make, which also happens to be full of great flavor and nutrition.
Einkorn “No-knead” Bread
About 18-24 hrs ahead of time:
Stir in a mixing bowl:
3 1/2 c Einkorn flour (500g)
1 c water (240 g)
2 t salt (10g)
1/2 c sourdough starter made with Einkorn flour OR 1/4 t dry yeast
Stir together the above ingredients and cover lightly with plastic wrap and leave overnight IN THE FRIDGE (this advise came to us via Michael Pollan’s great book, “Cooked.” The original recipe advised to leave out on the counter. Pollan goes in-depth, and even though he says that Einkorn can’t make big, nice bread HE’S WRONG! Using his advise, we adapted the original technique. Leave the bread in the fridge until morning, and slow and improve the quality of the fermentation). Usually after about 18 hours this mix is happy and bubbly and ready to be stirred down, but you can leave it longer. The longer the better for the bread’s development, for sure, so don’t worry if you can’t get to it at any exact moment of the day (I told you this was easy…).
The next morning, we pull the dough out of the fridge and give it a stir with another 1/2 c of Einkorn flour; this is also Pollan’s tip, and it’s fantastic, give the bacteria you’ve just multiplied some food (all of this also comes from Chad Robertson’s great book “Tartine Bread” btw…that’s who Pollan baked with), and it will activate more and make the bread lighter. Now you can leave the dough on the counter until you’re about 2 hrs away from when you’d like to bake it. After that time, we give it another 1/2 c or so of flour (same idea as before), line a cloth napkin or kitchen towel in a bowl and dust it extremely generously with either more flour, or cornmeal, or whatever you like to use, so that the dough doesn’t stick to the towel. Leave lightly covered again for about 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. When you’re about 45 minutes away from wanting to bake the bread, turn on your oven to 450F. Place a 4-5 qt Dutch oven or other heavy pan with a cover, in the oven to heat up. When you’re ready to go, carefully and bravely plop the bread dough out of the towel and into the super-hot pan. Quickly put the heavy lid on the pan, close the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake the bread to get a nice color and crispy crust, until it’s cooked. In our oven this takes about another 20-25 minutes, but every oven is different. If you have a probe thermometer, take an internal temperature of at least 180F to make sure that the bread is cooked. Cool thoroughly on a rack and enjoy!
***There are lots of great ways to make this bread even more nutritious: Make Sprouted Einkorn Bread: Take a cup of whole Einkorn berries the day before and rinse them and drain them. Leave on the counter for the time that the dough is rising and they will sprout! This releases lots of enzymes and nutrition in the grain. Pulse the grains to a mush in the food processor and stir them into the dough when you stir it down, and voila, sprouted grain bread (and again be grateful that you don’t need to knead this sticky mess!).
You can also stir 1/3 c of either ground flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, into the dough for a great new flavor and extra nutrition, maple syrup or molasses if you want a little sweetness!