The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crumbling/Falling apart einkorn bread (yeasted, Jovial recipe)

sillygolucky's picture

Crumbling/Falling apart einkorn bread (yeasted, Jovial recipe)

Hello everybody! :)

A few weeks back I jumped right into baking bread with einkorn!  I am on my 3rd loaf (baking as I type this) of the Dairy-Free Brown Bread recipe from the book Einkorn by Carla Bartolucci.  

A little background on me...I've not really gotten into the serious math and nuances of baking bread. But just by scanning some of the einkorn posts on this site...geesh, my head got spinning and maybe even a little smoke outta my ears ;)  Hehe.  But I'm starting to catch on to all this hydration stuff, etc...  So for this adventure I actually bought a nice kitchen scale and am weighing everything instead of measuring it, except for yeast and fats.

Also, I am using Jovial's all-purpose einkorn flour as well as using my own home-milled whole einkorn flour.  I have a Jupiter mill and am grinding it on the finest setting.

For now I am sticking to the yeast bread recipes because I'm in the process of getting a good einkorn sourdough starter going! Woohoo!  I love sourdough, and I think it's healthier for ya, so eventually that is mostly what I will be making unless I need a quick 2-hour yeast loaf :D

ANYHOO.  So, here is the recipe and my experience thus far:

  • 325g 100 F degree water
  • 1.5t active dry yeast
  • 1T real maple syrup
  • 3T refined coconut oil
  • 288g home-milled whole einkorn flour (Jupiter mill on finest grind)
  • 240g jovial all-purpose einkorn flour
  • .5t Redmond Real Salt

Recipe says to preheat to 425, then reduce heat to 375 when you put in the oven.  Bake 40 minutes, cool 15 in the pan and at least 2 hours out of the pan.

Loaf #1 of Dairy-Free Brown Bread: Dough wasn't sticky much at all, not as much as I was expecting it to be from all the descriptions I've read about einkorn dough.  I did not knead it.  Proofed fast, but I let it go the 30 minutes instructed in the recipe. Loaf sunk in the oven. Cooled for 2 hours covered with cloth. Bread tasted GREAT, but got crumbly/fell apart about half way through the loaf (ate it within 3 days, stored at room temp).

Loaf #2 of Dairy-Free Brown Bread: Final proof was fast again, but I only let it proof to the top of the pan this time. Didn't sink! Woohoo. Cooled for 2 hours covered with cloth. Tasted awesome, but was even crumblier and wimpier than first loaf. Couldn't even use the last half of it for sandwiches because it was falling apart. :(

Loaf #3 (cooling now! That's her in the pix!): Double milled the berries. Increased hydration from 315g to 350g.  First proof/rest was an hour instead of 45 minutes. Folded the loaf like an envelope this time. Dough was definitely a little more sticky! Final proof rose just barely past the top of the pan, about 20 minutes.  

SO. This crumbling issue.  My main use for this bread is for sammiches! And you can't have fall-apart bread for sammiches! lol. I know she has other recipes in the book, but I want to give this one a fair try :)  I love having a basic ingredient, go-to, no-fail recipe, ya know?

From what I've read, I understand einkorn's gluten structure is wimpy, which is why little to no kneading is good. Overproofing is bad.  

I stumbled across some posts talking about a water (Tangzhong) roux and of course I'd never heard of it, and it sounded complicated to know how much to add. lol. Also, I wanted to do some other basic tweaks first and see if they helped.  So I baking it too long? Should I not cool it covered with a cloth (I did that for a softer crust, but it's no biggie). Should I knead it a LITTLE?  I just don't know enough about baking bread to know why it would fall apart. To me it seems like an issue with the grain not absorbing enough water, even though the loaf itself seemed moist enough after baking.  That is why on Loaf #3 I more finely ground the berries and added more water, plus let it proof a little longer the first time to get it all absorbed.  I know Carla (author of the book) advised someone else regarding the same issue by being sure to NOT slice the bread until the loaf has cooled, which I have done every time.  So I don't think (in my case) that is the issue.

Okay, whew, I think that's it ;)  I know other peeps are having this same issue, so I'm hoping if we all put our heads together we can all have happy sammiches and save the world!! ;) 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

such a low amount of salt?  I'm guessing that .5 tsp salt weights about 3g... correct?   1% would be perhaps a teaspoon or 5 g and you need at least that much to help control the yeast or there will be a lot of unpredictability with each run of the recipe, even with what appears to be identical circumstances.  

My first run with a 100% Einkorn loaf resulted in me waiting for the Einkorn sourdough starter to mature, about 5 days before progressing.  The loaf improved a great deal both in texture and flavour although the crumbly characteristic seems to be part of Einkorn's characteristics.  Reminds me more of banana bread when it comes to texture.  Some of my early loaves I simple crumbled after a few days old and dried out / toasted in the oven and made myself something similar to Grape-Nut Cereal.  

sillygolucky's picture

Not sure about the salt reasoning. I think I read somewhere the salt is more for browning?  Is that your experience? I'm following the recipes exactly (the first go round at least) and I'm new to all the science and mechanics about bread baking, esp with einkorn!  In the recipe, it simply says .5t, no weight.  All the ingredients that are t or T don't give weights, although the rest do (water, flour, etc...).

Also like I mentioned, my end goal is to do sourdough recipes...and I was working on a starter.  I made my first loaf yesterday!  Divine and tangy!!  But still a touch crumbly.  I felt the dough was too dry--VERY easy to work with, which seems not right for einkorn. lol.  So next loaf will have more water!

I was thinking I should save all the crumbs after slicing and toast them for bread crumbs! lol!  It will be interesting to see how the sourdough works for sandwiches.  I don't mind the messy crumbs if that is just the way einkorn is going to be; my yeasted loaves were good until about a day in and then the bread just simply fell apart!  That weak gluten, I'm guessing?


clazar123's picture

I have not worked with einkorn but I have done some gluten free baking-which has no gluten and can be VERY crumbly, if you let it.

Let me explain the concepts I work from. In order to have a baked good that has some structure, traps  and holds air to be fluffy and holds together after it is baked, you have to have some starchy gel and something that holds the gel and bubbles in place. Think of holding a bunch of balloons in a big net. In wheat bread you have starchy gel (they starchy part of the wheat seed) and gluten. In gluten free baking you have starchy gel (rice flour,potatoe starch,tapioca starch,etc)and a gum of some kind (xanthan,guar,psyllium,pectin,etc). The gum is absolutely necessary for structure.Both matrices need to be strong enough or thick enough to trap the bubbles formed by yeast and heat and allow them to expand, rise and set when baked. Both require different ways of handling to get the best baked product.

Back to einkorn. I would treat it like a low gluten, whole grain flour.

1. This means that it needs time to absorb the water you add because otherwise it will rob it from the loaf after it is baked and the structure will fall into a pile of crumbs. Add an autolyze (a no yeast soak).

2.If there is ANY chance at gluten formation, I would try kneading it. Kneading helps develop gluten but it also helps the starchy gel hydrate and develop in any kind of bread. Kneading will not harm the gluten.

3.Add a gum? Xanthan gum is usually readily available. It only takes about 1/2 tsp. Psyllium is also generally available.

4. Underproof slightly. It sounds like this is a dough that will go from under to over-proofed in about a 2 minute window. Keep a very close eye on it. The reason your loaf collapsed after baking is because it overproofed- all those bubbles expanded beyond the ability of the matrix to hold it up once the matrix was set by the heat of the oven.

5. Tang zhong is just taking some of the flour and water and heating it (I use the microwave) to form a custard. Usually a 5:1 ratio. (10g flour to 50 g water. )Use a couple tablespoons custard per loaf and it helps form a well-hydrated starchy gel right away. This gets the loaf off to a good start. You still have to allow the einkorn to absorb water in an autolyze!

6. Try cooling the loaf on its side in the pan before releasing it but make sure you use some form of pan release like a baking spray or parchment paper. This allows the weaker matrix to cool and solidify without the weight of the whole loaf to support. Same concept when we hang a pannetone or an angel cake upside down to cool.

Try some of these concepts and see if they are helpful to einkorn. Every grain has different handling techniques for its different characteristics. Find what works best with einkorn and then share it with the rest of us.

sillygolucky's picture

I definitely agree that it needs more time to absorb the liquids. I have been increasing my first proofings and it seems to be helping :)

From what I have read so far, einkorn has a very weak gluten structure.  Therefore kneading CAN be detrimental!  I'm guessing it's going to take some trial and error to find the balance for kneading--if it needs any at all! 

You are right about the proofing.  It proofs quickly!  After the first loaf I was very careful and since then the other loaves I've made have not sunk, but I still feel like they could puff up some more.  Maybe part of it is that I am using home-milled whole-einkorn flour, too, which is going to produce a heartier/denser loaf anyway.

I would prefer to not add xanthan gum or psyillium.  I have baked gluten-free from scratch quite a bit so I am familiar with the benefits!

I haven't tried the tang zhong but I am still considering it.  Once I get a few dozen loaves under my belt, if it's still too crumbly, I'll try it.

Great idea for the cooling!  However, my loaf comes right out of the pan!!  I do grease it, which helps, but I use this one ( which is pretty much non-stick anyway.

THANK YOU for your lengthy reply!! You've been super helpful, and I will continue to share my adventures :)  We all learn from each other, that's for sure :D

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and using a well greased muffin pan to make rolls for sandwiches instead of sliced bread.  Holds onto sliced cucumber very well.

Do let it proof and then spoon into the pan holes filling about half full.

Might want to try less yeast too.

sillygolucky's picture

Ooooh, never thought of using a muffin tin for perfectly round buns. (Ha, that made me giggle. lol.)  GREAT tip. Thanks!!  And my loaf #3 where I upped the hydration definitely was less crumbly, but I still think it could use even more water.




BobBoule's picture

this post on Einkorn until just now. I have been using Einkorn exclusively for two years now, and its definitely a handful. I've always experienced it as a sticky, hard to handle mess. I use Jovial's flour exclusively. Do try upping the hydration. I usually bake at 68% hydration but have gone as high as 85%. The salt is necessary for flavor and to control the yeast from overpopulating the dough, it does not brown the bread at all.

Sugars like maple syrup brown the bread and they also make the yeast grow like crazy, I do not use any sugars at all and my bread come out just fine.

Try increasing the salt to 1 teaspoon (and get an accurate scale, weighing everything really works out best for you in the long run). If the sugar is making the yeast grow too quickly and to too big a colony, then more salt will help control that overgrowth.

I found my loaves to come our better when baking at higher temperatures. This gives me a better rise since Einkorn has such a weak protein structure. I don't knead at all. Ever. It never helped me in any way to knead it, the Einkorn dough simply loses its shape a minute or two after kneading so it seems to be useless (so far).

I do like to allow my dough to ferment overnight, it develops more flavor and rises nicely in the oven that way. This might solve the crumbling issue (as well as the increased hydration). I have no need to add sugars (syrup) for flavor and Einkorn has so much Beta Carotene that it comes out with its own nature color, it snot quite orange but it doesn't look like where bread either. (I'm assuming that this author was adding the syrup to color the loaf.)

Keep experimenting, its worth it.