Einkorn Sourdough Starter and Bread Recipe

Learn how to make low-gluten sourdough bread with einkorn flour, starting with a homemade starter that will keep you baking for years.

| Fall 2019

Photo by Adobe Stock/sriba3

Einkorn Sourdough Bread

Like other sourdough recipes, einkorn sourdough begins with a starter, which you’ll need to prepare a week or two before you want to bake bread, as it needs time to become fully activated. The levain — a very active, bubbly batter made from the starter that will allow your bread to rise quicker than using straight starter — should be made the night before you want to bake bread. You can learn more about this unique grain in All About Einkorn Grain.

The Starter


  • 2 to 4 cups all-purpose einkorn flour, divided into 1/2 cups
  • Water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, 2 to 3 tablespoons each active day


  1. Day 1: Mix 1/2 cup flour and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl to form a wet dough that’s tacky to the touch.
    Transfer the dough to a glass container and seal it tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Let it rest at room temperature in a cabinet for 48 hours.
  2. Day 3: If you see a grayish hue on the surface of the starter, push it aside. Spoon out the creamy golden starter into a clean bowl.
    Mix 2 tablespoons water into the starter until dissolved, then mix in 1/2 cup flour to form a wet dough.
    Transfer the dough to a clean glass container and seal it tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Let it rest at room temperature in a cabinet for 24 hours.
  3. Day 4: Again, discard any grayish starter and spoon out the creamy golden starter into a clean bowl.
    Mix 2 tablespoons water into the starter until dissolved, then mix in 1/2 cup flour to form a wet dough.
    Transfer the dough to a clean glass container and seal it tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Let it rest at room temperature in a cabinet for 24 hours.
  4. Day 5: From this day, you’ll refresh the starter daily until it’s active and bubbling. Then, you can use it to bake bread. Store the remainder in the fridge until you run low and need to refresh it again. You’ll need 1/2 cup all-purpose einkorn flour each time you refresh the starter.
    Place 2 teaspoons of the starter in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons water and mix until the starter is dissolved and the water is creamy. Add 1/2 cup flour and mix with a fork until most of the flour is absorbed, then roll the starter between your hands until all the flour is absorbed, rubbing the bowl with the starter to pick up the remaining flour.
    Transfer the starter to a sealed glass container, and let it rest at room temperature for up to 24 hours.
    When the refreshed starter doubles in size after 6 to 10 hours, you can use it to bake, and refrigerate the remainder.

Photo by Jovial Foods

The Levain


  • 2 tablespoons Einkorn Starter, cold or 6 hours after refresh
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 1 cup all-purpose einkorn flour, or 1 1/4 cups whole-grain einkorn flour


  1. In a glass container or bowl, mix starter and water with a fork, pressing on starter until it dissolves. Add flour and mix until flour is dissolved. Seal tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and let rise in a dark place for 6 to 10 hours.
  2. When the levain looks very wet and you can see large bubbles on the surface, the levain is ready to use. If your starter is new, this may take up to 24 hours. Don’t bake if you don’t see bubbling — your bread won’t rise. If you don’t see bubbling after 24 hours, your starter isn’t strong enough yet. You can still use the levain to bake bread by adding 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast and letting the mixture sit out for 3 to 4 hours more; meanwhile, keep refreshing your starter for a few days, and then try again.

The Bread


  • 1 batch Sourdough Levain
  • 1-1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 6 cups whole grain einkorn flour
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt


  1. Begin by transferring the levain to a large bowl. Add the water and mix with a stiff spatula to break up the levain.
  2. Add the flour and sprinkle the salt on top. Mix briefly until you have a wet, sticky dough and the flour is mostly absorbed. Cover the bowl with a plate and let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. To turn the dough, begin by lightly flouring a work surface and, using a bowl scraper, transfer the dough to it. Turn the dough by stretching it into a rectangle, then folding in each corner to the center. Fold again in half, then transfer the dough back to the bowl and cover tightly with the plate. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, then turn it again.
  4. Transfer the dough back to the bowl, but this time, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 2 to 4 hours, or until it has risen by 30 percent. If you’re using a new starter, you may leave the dough for up to 10 hours before you see a rise. If the dough has risen and you don’t have time to shape and bake the bread, place the dough in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. If you have trouble with shaping, you may also let the dough rise, then refrigerate it for 1 hour before shaping. It’s easier to shape einkorn dough when it’s cold.
  5. To shape the loaf, begin by transferring the dough to a lightly floured surface. Spread the dough out into a rectangle, and then fold in each long end to form a square. Pull up the edges of the dough at 1-inch intervals and press them tightly into the center to make a 6-inch, round shape. Use the bowl scraper to turn the dough over so the seam side is on the counter. Flour your hands, then cup the dough and rotate it in a circular motion between your hands, applying downward pressure, until you have a tight, round loaf. Dust the top of the loaf generously with flour.
  6. Heavily dust a 6-inch, unlined banneton basket with flour, and invert the loaf into it. Cover with a linen couche, or dust the top of the dough with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the loaf rise at room temperature for 45 to 90 minutes, until it has expanded just past the rim of the basket and shows a few bubbles, but is still a bit firm.
  7. Place a lidded Dutch oven in the oven. Heat the oven to 500 degrees for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid. Invert the loaf and shake it loose into the pot. Make four 1/4-inch deep slashes on top of the loaf in the pattern of a square, making sure you don’t get too close to the edges. Cover and place in the oven.
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 475 degrees, and bake for 20 minutes. Then, carefully remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Return the pot to the oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes more.
  10. Lift the loaf out with a metal spatula and transfer it to a wire rack. Let the bread cool for 2 hours before slicing. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days in an open plastic bag, or freeze for up to a month, then defrost at room temperature.



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