Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Einkorn

These days, "gluten-free" has become a nutritional buzz word, and people right and left are ditching wheat products and claiming that their health has improved because of it. While there's still a fair amount of debate about exactly how wide-spread gluten intolerance is, it's hard to deny the abundant anecdotal evidence.

But is it really wheat that's the problem? What if the bigger issue is modern wheat, bred for high yields and specific characteristics to make farming easier? What if these changes have also altered something fundamental in wheat, something that our digestive systems haven't caught up with yet?

After all, our ancestors have been eating wheat since pretty much forever. If we could go back to eating those ancient varieties of wheat, would our bodies have an easier time digesting the gluten? Some people believe the answer is yes, and einkorn wheat, a relic grain that fell out of favor a long time ago, is starting to make a resurgence as a result.

But einkorn behaves differently than modern durum wheat in recipes. For readers who are interested in this ancient type of wheat but unsure of what to actually do with it, author Carla Bartolucci presents Einkorn: Recipes For Nature's Original Wheat. Bartolucci is a believer, and the preface to the book details how her oldest daughter struggled with an undiagnosed gluten sensitivity for years, and how they ultimately turned to einkorn wheat as a solution. The book also talks extensively about the differences between the gluten-forming proteins in einkorn verses modern wheat.

Because the gluten develops differently in einkorn wheat, you can't just substitute it in your regular recipes and expect the same result. Einkorn is very different, and Bartolucci has spent many years experimenting and adapting recipes to suit the different properties of einkorn flour. The result is that a gluten sensitivity no longer has to mean going gluten-free for many people; instead, readers of all kinds can enjoy the health benefits of recipes baked with einkorn wheat.

And Bartolucci certainly offers a wide variety of recipes. There's an extensive chapter on various types of bread, of course, but readers will also delight in being able to make breakfast dishes like scones and pancakes. There are cookies, like Goodness Graham Crackers or classic Chocolate Chip Cookies, and cakes like Dairy-Free Coconut Pound Cake or Brooklyn Blackout Cake. Pie crusts, cinnamon rolls, pasta noodles, pizza dough, and more can all be made with einkorn using the recipes in this book. There is even a chapter devoted to "Street Food," so readers can feast on cravables like Korean Dumplings and Soft German Pretzels.

Each recipe is very clearly written, and the pictures will make your stomach rumble. Bartolucci goes into extensive detail on making sourdough or yeast levains, offers techniques for turning the dough that is often super wet, provides instructions for how readers can sprout einkorn wheat berries at home for additional health benefits, and more. The recipes in here cover pretty much all basic wheat-based foods that those who face going gluten-free (or who are already there) might be miss the most.

Baking with einkorn still remains a daunting idea for many, but with a cookbook like Einkorn, those who are determined will have a much easier time finding their way.


I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own!

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