- New Blog Name
- High Extraction vs. Bolted Flour
- Michette in Einkorn
- Jovial Einkorn
But first, let's get today's business out on the table. As you can see, I have changed the name of my blog. This is not a new idea for me. It's a long time coming, and I wanted to do it during the last leg of the blog but never did. And yes, it has a story. Everything does, right?
So, I'm glad you're here with me, back at the page. Embracing not the flight from Tartine, but the embrace of our very own experiments and the ownership of the work that goes into them. It's your energy that keeps me going. All of the comments and emails and hoorahs. I need them. You are what make me want to do this, right. You are my bread friends, Josh and Joe, Alicia, Yuvall, Stephanie, Jorg, Elie, Christian, Michalis and Judy, Marie and Katie Chang. All of you. Friends.
Now with all that out of the way, lets talk about the difference between bolted and high-extraction flours.
That is to say that we get the health benefits of whole grain baking by using bolted flour, but we also get a little more loft than a loaf of 100% whole, unbolted flour. Thinking about it this way, a whole white flour loaf will be lofty with an open crumb, a bread using high-extraction flour will give you a light crumb, but a tad less irregular, and a bit less open than a white flour loaf, while our bolted flour gives us a more tightly knit crumb than that but one that is tender and fantastic and far more open than a 100% unbolted whole grain bread. Finally, a whole grain, unbolted loaf (when done correctly) will give us a really serious but lovely, hearty bread with a tight crumb.
100% High-Extraction Einkorn Michette
We cannot forget that there is also the 50/50 white/whole grain mix that Chad describes at the start of the book which he says can simulate high-extraction flour. With this mix, I have found that it definitely lightens the crumb because of the white flour, but the crumb is more uniform and tighter than if we were using all white flour, because of the quantity of whole grain. Lightening our loaves is the job of high-extraction flour, and to this end, it works, but I personally don't think that it's a stand-in for commercial high-extraction flour, given the research that I did to find out exactly what high-extraction is, and given my experiments with both (I have also experimented with another brand of high-extraction flour aside from Jovial). And it doesn't compare to bolted flour in terms of flavor or texture. This week alone I made 8 loaves with a focus on nothing but high-extraction, bolted flour, and 50/50 mix, and the results are always in favor of the bolted flour, with the high-extraction coming in second. Both make for a unique crumb that you cannot simulate with the 50/50, and without question, produce far more flavorful breads.
In my humble opinion, I would suggest first trying your hand at bolting your own freshly-milled flour, or perhaps even your store-bought flour (I have not tried bolting store-bought whole grain flour yet, but I will do, and share the results). Next I would use commercial high-extraction because in this flour, none of the germ is removed in the process, and the texture of all of my breads using it thus far have been really gorgeous. Jovial is a good place to start.
Speaking of, the flavor of my bolted flour breads vs. those that use commercial high-extraction is incredibly different. For instance, in these loaves, the earthy flavors of the grain were definitively more 'present', the minerality and nuttiness profound. The Jovial high-extraction loaves, while delicious, had more herbaceous and even floral flavors. I think I mentioned that Jovial high-extraction flour is really intriguing. It arrives compacted, almost crumbly, clay-like and dense. It has a remarkable, resinous aroma, and I will keep my larder stocked with it because it has such a unique character. But it does make a powerfully flavored loaf, so take that into consideration when pairing it with other grains. You don't want to add it to a loaf where it will compete with the dominant grain, like, say, rye. Two strongly-flavored flours in one loaf might not be a great idea.
So the bottom line is that there is a difference between bolted and high-extraction flour, one that cannot be ignored, and the two, in my opinion, should not be confused nor used to supplant one another. Further, the 50/50 is not a viable stand-in for either. I think it's too dangerously close to simply lightening a whole grain loaf with the addition of white flour. Not a bad thing, but definitely not what we are trying to accomplish here in our pursuit of other worldly (commercial high-extraction flour indeed makes an 'other worldly' loaf) or whole grain breads. In the move to higher percentages of whole grains in our breads, white flour sort of hampers us from becoming masters of skillful fermentation and the knowledge of a given grain. I think that we should trust our experiments rather than automatically build white flour into our formulae when we have at least two other options available to us. But I think that that is the issue here. Experimentation. If you don't experiment it's very easy to fall back on white flour, which is not a terrible thing. White flour makes lovely breads. But whole grains throw a whole new learning curve into your bread baking, and you have to be up to the task, because even though it is simply flour, water, salt and yeast, it is also technique, and time, and ingenuity that create a fine loaf of bread, and further, the delicate balance of these components.
I will confess, you must educate yourself before endeavoring to increase the percentages of whole grains in your breads. My suggestion is to approach this one grain at a time. Each grain behaves differently than the next, so take your time and get to know their characteristics, first by reading as much as you can, then empirically. I would never have known about the nature of einkorn had I not first read about it and then worked with it right after that. And I could never have known about the temperamental nature of it in terms of hydration unless I actually made up a dough, preferably one that used a higher percentage of it so that the true nature of the flour was exhibited. Using white flour in your baking keeps you shielded from the true nature of the grain because of its power. It becomes a crutch (a delicious crutch, but a crutch nonetheless). A loaf of bread that takes 100g rye to 400g of white flour is not a rye bread. A loaf of bread with 70% rye flour is a rye bread. A loaf of 100% rye bread is a work of art.
Let me stress the importance of also building upon knowledge that you have already acquired. We are not reinventing the wheel here, but we are capable of making it stronger, better, faster, more attractive. Hopefully when you read any bread book you will not see the formulae as 'recipes' but elevated starting points so that you may produce your own bread within a given 'theme'. It is several years of working with different flours, hydrations, and my specific environment that I continue to build upon. And, as I have mentioned, I test breads however much is necessary to arrive at a formula that you all can reproduce at home without error. One advantage to baking my breads is that I am a home baker so it's likely that my environment is fairly close to yours. I am not really interested in owning a bakery. I am interested in making bakery-quality breads in my own home. I push the boundaries of my limits and make the most of what I have - some old pans, stained pizza stones, and a really, really crappy oven. What I produce is my bread, my way, and I believe that this is why you meet me here every week (or thereabouts), well, that and because we are learning all of this together. I trust that most of you all probably don't want to own your own bakery either. So then, this blog is for you. When the time comes that I can install a wood oven in my yard (or even have a yard to begin with!), then I will take my bread in another direction. But for now, this is it, and it's just want I need.
When working with any bread that calls for high-extraction, whether in the Tartine book or any other, take a step back and look at the formula, try to get a sense of what the finished loaf is intended to be, and then decide which route to take. You have some options. One will work.
With these loaves, I used all Jovial Einkorn. This interesting little grain is small, teardrop shaped, and flat. It is one of the earliest cultivated forms of wheat along with emmer wheat, and Jovial's einkorn is not hybridized. Einkorn is actually the German name (literally 'single grain') for this ancient wheat, in Italian it is called farro piccolo. Einkorn wheat is recommended for people with celiac's disease and gluten intolerance, as its form of gliadin is not as aggravating as the gliadin in other wheat varietals.
The bolted flour yield for this einkorn was on the low end of the scale that I mentioned above, probably due to its small size and bran to endosperm ratio. I sifted it through first a #30 screen then a #50. I also used their high-extraction flour. Each yielded excellent results. Their whole einkorn produces a nutty, earthy loaf of bread with a gorgeous ochre crumb and shattery crust.
Be prepared to get your hands dirty with all of this because einkorn is a very difficult grain to work with if, especially if it is overhydrated, and it does not take much to go too far. If you think that rye doughs are sticky, just wait until you work with einkorn. Because of the stickiness factor, I was overzealous in my flouring of le banneton, thus the snowy loaves. Alas, an easy fix.
Einkorn does develop gluten, unlike rye, however, so turns are necessary and do add to the strength of the dough. Just beware with hydration. It sneaks up on you. Start with a conservative hand, say, hold some of the water back at autolyse, because you can always add more later at salt, right. Einkorn takes a while to absorb all of the water, and by the time it has finished autolysing, if you have added too much, you are basically going to be fighting with a very sticky dough. This is not the flour to be pulling your high-hydration rock star moves on. My first high-extraction hydration percentage was a mere 77.5%, and working with it, it felt like a 100% hydration dough. Very hard to fold, handle and shape, a beast if ever there was. I must admit, I cursed it and had little faith that it would amount to anything at all. Alas, I was happily proven wrong.
I hope this clarifies some things for everyone. There is not a lot out there about einkorn. The breads that I found all employed commercial yeast or healthy amounts of white flour to temper the intractability of this little grain.
We have found, and empirically so, that there is an undeniable difference in the employment of these three 'high-extraction' flours in our loaves and that we really cannot just exchange one for the other so simply. For me, the clarification in differences between bolted and high-extraction flour has opened up a whole new and exciting avenue on this path to making extraordinary bread, so I am glad that I took on this experiment. It is my goal to keep you completely informed about the breads I am baking through rigorous and dedicated testing so that you all continue to turn out incredible loaves with as little error as possible.
Finally, to those of you who have reached out to me in the past couple of weeks, please forgive my late response. I have about a dozen emails to catch up on, and I will get back to you this week, I promise. It is on my list of things to do. I would rather send you a response with undivided attention than a quick reply that will not help you along your bread path. You emailers know who you are ;)
Here are the findings for our three new breads. A 100% hand-bolted Jovial einkorn flour bread, a 100% Jovial einkorn high-extraction flour bread, and a bread that employes half hand-bolted Jovial einkorn flour and half whole, freshly stone-milled Jovial einkorn flour.
Have a look:
100% High-Extraction Einkorn Michette, 77.5% hydration