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Jan 12, 2016

Spelt and Einkorn Sourdough Bread with Caramelized Onions

Spelt and Einkorn Sourdough Bread with Caramelized Onions and herbes de Provence

I was a little bit nervous about making this Spelt and Einkorn Sourdough Bread with Caramelized Onions. I've worked with spelt before, but always by combining it with bread flour. In fact, I have five breads on this blog that contain whole spelt, including this Spelt and Whole Wheat and this Basic Country Loaf with Spelt. I've never worked with einkorn flour.

The Bread Bakers baking group was charged with making bread with only ancient grains and no modern wheat. She was pretty serious. I did not want to get put on Bread Bakers' probation.

"What's the big deal?" you ask. The scary part is that, while these grains are higher in protein, they have a delicate gluten. While this makes them easier to digest, they are less elastic, less tolerant of high hydration, and can break down during long rising times (according to Tartine No 3).

Spelt and Einkorn Sourdough Bread with Caramelized Onions and herbes de Provence

Ground whole spelt is easier to find, and you can sometimes find unground einkorn in natural food stores and some grocery chains with a decent sized Bob's Red Mill section. It is apparently the original wheat, kind of the great great great (add more "greats") grandparent of all of the other wheats.

I decided to make this bread with both all purpose spelt and einkorn, which I needed to order online. While everyone else was waiting for their Christmas gifts to arrive, I was anxiously hoping the elves at Amazon would quickly deliver flour. Yes, I am a nerd.

I also added lightly caramelized onions and herbes de Provence to the dough. When the loaves came out of the oven, you could find me picking out and eating the tasty onion pieces that managed to pop out of the crust. Just neatening up things.....

Spelt and Einkorn Sourdough Bread with Caramelized Onions and herbes de Provence

The dough had a super interesting feel. Even though it has a fairly high water to flour ratio, it wasn't nearly as sticky as I would expect. Once the dough came together, it almost felt like taffy. It was really easy to shape as well.

The bread had some pretty decent oven spring and developed a wonderful crust. Slashing it was a little different, and reminded me more of slashing a rye loaf. I cut one loaf with one slash, and did a pound sign on the other loaf. The crust is super crunchy, and it crackled away after emerging from the oven. I'm so happy with the results!

This bread is super flavorful and delectable. I'm pretty sure the sweet onions and herbes de Provence helped too. Once this bread is cool enough to slice, you just might find yourself with a loaf, a knife, and a butter dish, sneaking slice after slice. Not that it happened here. No way.

After the recipe, check out what the rest of the #BreadBakers created with this month's theme.

Spelt and Einkorn Sourdough Bread with Caramelized Onions and Herbes de Provence


Sourdough Starter

227 g all purpose spelt flour
227 g water
45 g active sourdough starter

You can also use your "regular" 100% hydration starter with either white flour or a mixture of white, whole wheat, and rye. I won't tell.

Caramelized Onions with Herbes de Provence

1 large onion (I used a sweet onion)
1 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence (you could also use rosemary if you prefer)

Final dough

432 g lukewarm water
454 g levain
1/4 tsp instant yeast (optional)
227 g all purpose spelt flour
558 g all purpose einkorn flour
17 g salt
All of the caramelized onions


  1. About 8 to 10 hours before mixing the dough, mix the sourdough ingredients and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature.  
  2. Coarsely chop the onion. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet, add the onion, salt, pepper, and sugar. Saute the onions on medium low, stirring regularly, until lightly browned, but still very soft. Stir in the herbes de Provence. Let cool. 
  3. In a large bowl, mix the starter, optional yeast, and the water with a spoon to break up the starter. Add the flour and mix with wet hands until all of the flour is incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. 
  4. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix with your wet hands, alternating between folding the dough and pinching the salt until the salt dissolves. Sprinkle on more water if necessary. 
  5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and allow to rise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, with three stretch and folds during the first 90 minutes at 30 minute intervals. Add the onions at the first stretch and fold. 
  6. Divide the dough in half and pre-shape it into boules. Cover with plastic wrap to rest for 15 minutes. 
  7. Flour two 9-inch bannetons, brotforms, or towel lined bowls. (I use a combination of wheat and rice flour to prevent sticking)
  8. Shape the dough into boules and place them into the baskets/bowls, seam side up, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise overnight in the refrigerator, about 12 to 14 hours.
  9. Remove the loaves from the refrigerator about one hour prior to baking. 
  10. Place two cast iron Dutch ovens in your oven and preheat it to 500 degrees F (if you don't have two Dutch ovens, you can bake the loaves in sequence). 
  11. The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator, place two empty Dutch ovens in the oven, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. If you have only one Dutch oven, you can bake the loaves in sequence. 
  12. When you are ready to bake the loaves, remove the plastic wrap from the top of the dough. 
  13. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. Place a piece of heavy duty parchment paper over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, plate and all, and lift off the basket. Slash the top of the dough with a lame or a sharp knife. Lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Place the lid back onto the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. 
  14. Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake for 30 minutes. 
  15. Uncover the loaf and bake for about another 10 to15 minutes, until the interior of the loaf reaches 205 to 210 degrees F. I usually move the loaf to a baking sheet after the first 30 minutes to prevent burning on the bottom. 
  16. Cool on a rack before slicing. 
I originally made a version of this recipe with a mixture of bread and whole wheat flour, from a recipe from my friend David. When searching for a recipe for all ancient grains, I came across this version from Cathy of Bread Experience. While my loaves are made from all purpose spelt and einkorn, Cathy uses a mixture of all purpose and whole grain spelt and einkorn. 

This month's BreadBakers' theme is Ancient Grains. Ancient grains are generally accepted to mean grains that have remained largely unchanged/un-hybridized over the last several hundred years, which means NO MODERN WHEAT. Here's what our creative bakers came up with.
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to

Would you like to comment?

  1. I KNEW IT! I just knew this would be gorgeous. I had a little bit of trouble with this, which I think came down to my einkorn starter. Doesn't have quite the same "oomph" as a regular sourdough starter, I think. I won't give up though, now that I have something to aspire to. You're the Bread Yoda.

    1. Aww. Thank you. Glad you didn't ban me for that bit of starter, lol!! Thanks for the theme!

  2. ancient grains, sourdough all rolled in one! Wow, you are a genius. My first ever attempt at sourdough will perhaps happen this week, my starter is getting ready.

    1. Ooooh! Good luck!! I find baking with sourdough so relaxing. The extra time and the caring for the starter are so rhythmic.

  3. Karen..Fabulous Fabulous Fabulous! And I just love the colour of your bread as well

  4. Nerd? Did I read that right? I don't think so. I think you are the Bread Baking Queen, therefore you need an army of Amazon Elves ready to deliver whatever type of exotic flour you dream of from the top of your Bread Baking Throne!

    you rule! you bake! that's it

    and this bread..... another masterpiece for your collection!

    1. I'm a bread nerd!! You are soooo sweet my friend.

  5. You win the prize for most beautiful loaves Karen. Makes my mouth water looking at the photos.

  6. Your bread is just gorgeous, and I enjoyed your process.

  7. What a gorgeous loaf of bread. It looks just perfect.

  8. bread has a fantastic texture - but with you I'm not surprised - great flavor additions also

  9. I love this sourdough bread, so beautifully made.

  10. Hi there, I was wondering if you could clarify this for me: "mix the sourdough ingredients and cover with plastic wrap." Are you referring to the sourdough starter? If so, and you have an active starter already, do you just skip this step and move on? Thanks so much for the recipe and your help.

    1. Yes, that's for the starter. The reason If did this is because my starter is all standard wheat flour, and this challenge was to use no modern wheat. If your starter is active and bubbly, by all means use it. It really doesn't matter if it's "modern" wheat because most of the rest of the bread is spelt and einkorn. Happy baking!


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