Einkorn, an ancient grain and the first wheat cultivated along the plains of western Asia, is my favorite grain for baking and I bake with it readily in my kitchen – using it for homemade breads, pies, pastries and cookies. Its sweet nutty flavor and characteristic golden crumb, owing to its high carotene content, are two of the reasons why I’ve come to love it.
While a nostalgic romanticism no doubt plays into my love of ancient and heirloom wheats like einkorn, there’s other factors too as einkorn is richer in beta carotene and lutein than modern wheats, and its gluten profile also differs from the gluten found in modern wheat. For this reason, it bakes differently and needs a slightly different hand and touch than do modern varietals.
Einkorn is an original wheat: it’s not hybridized, and it’s akin to wild grains and native grasses – harder to grow, less efficient to harvest and process into usable wheat berries and flour.
A Story of Hope and Recovery
After she and her husband discovered that gluten sensitivity played a role in their daughter Giulia’s myriad health problems like cough, asthma, congestion and tonsilitis, they removed gluten-containing grains from their family’s meals – which came as no small feat given the Italian propensity for gorgeous breads and pastas.
They soon discovered that einkorn might provide an avenue for Giulia to enjoy traditional Italian foods without the burden of health issues. Einkorn is richer in B vitamins, antioxidants like lutein and beta carotene, protein and minerals than its modern counterpart, and not only is it more nutrient-dense, the gluten molecule is functionally different from modern wheat making it easier to digest for some people, like Giulia, who are otherwise sensitive to modern wheat. Sure enough, Giulia recovered on einkorn.
Carla and her husband met with researchers who had been studying einkorn for more than a decade. At that time, only a few hundred acres of einkorn were grown worldwide, and it’s with a great deal of knowledge, inimitable persistence and sheer love of traditional foods that they founded Jovial foods and made einkorn commercially viable and easily accessible in grocery stores and online through Jovial Foods.
Baking with Einkorn (It’s tricky …)
I’ve baked with einkorn for several years now, and for experienced bakers there’s certainly a learning curve. Einkorn is a grain that benefits from long, slow methods like sourdough fermentation, which increases folate content while reducing glycemic load. Its protein structure differs from modern wheat as does its hydration, so converting recipes in your existing cookbooks to use einkorn can be a bit tricky.
Carla, having worked with the grain for years, has developed techniques and recipes that work well with einkorn, eliminating that learning curve and getting you started on the right path from the start. Her first book, Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat releases on August 4th (and she has a fantastic preorder bonus that you can check out here).
Einkorn: Recipes for Nature's Original Wheat
Carla's book Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat is not only treasure of einkorn recipes that range from classic baked goods like breads and sweets, but it is also contains a variety of recipes for traditional Italian dishes like pastas, risottos and these cookies made with wine and olive oil. Her recipes are inventive, traditional and, most importantly, they're developed for einkorn.
There is no learning curve with these recipes, they're simple, solid and make use of a positively beautiful, nourishing ancient grain. You can preorder Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat here, with Amazon Prime it should arrive as soon as it's released on August 4th, or check your local independent bookstore.
Olive Oil and Wine Cookies
- Set aside a tablespoon of the sugar on a small plate.
- In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 7 tablespoons (87 g) sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Drizzle the oil over the flour and mix with a fork until the dough is very clumpy. Add the wine and continue mixing with the fork. The dough will seem overly wet, but keep working until the flour has absorbed the liquid. Knead the dough on a clean work surface for about 2 minutes until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Take 1 tablespoon of the dough and roll it between the palms of your hands to form a ball. Place theball of dough on your work surface and roll with your fingers until it is about 5 inches long. Form a circle by pressing together the 2 ends. Brush the cookie with olive oil and dip the top of the cookie into the reserved sugar to dust lightly. Place the cookies on the baking sheet, spacing them 11?2 inches apart.Continue in the same manner until you have formed all of the cookies.
- Bake for 25 minutes until the edges have begun to brown. Remove the cookies from the baking sheet and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before serving. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 7 days.