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Barley Bread

My Oat and Linseed Sourdough has a challenger. It’s been a while. For six months now, I’ve been baking a small loaf of Oat and Linseed Sourdough two or three times most weeks. Occasionally, just because I got a bit bored, I’d do something different – a Megagrain loaf, or Fruit and Nut bread, or Celia’s Ciabatta, or Polenta and Pepita bread (one day I’ll get around to posting that recipe). But for everyday eating, I’d keep going back to the Oat and Linseed.

Then, one day I bought some rolled barley at the local wholefoods shop. For no good reason, just that they looked good – like rolled oats but heartier and less bland.  And, as a good blogger does, I did a bit of googling and discovered that barley really deserves to be in the superfoods list. It’s even better than oats as a source of soluble fibre that lowers the bad LDL, cholesterol levels and thus protects against heart disease.  And it’s a good source of  “resistant starch“, which means that it doesn’t get digested till it gets down into the lower intestine, where fermentation by good bacteria produce some compounds called Short Chain Fatty Acids, which are powerfully protective against bowel cancer.  And on top of that it is a really good source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins. And it’s very low GI.

And, I like the taste. Nutty, chewy, sweeter than oats. It makes a great bread that is dense and moist, stays fresh, tastes great with real honey on it, or vegemite, or an egg, one slice of toast for breakfast keeps you going till lunchtime no worries.

The Recipe:

The process is practically identical to the oat and linseed bread, but I’ll repeat it all here so you don’t have to flick back and forth.

It takes 24 hours, but only about 15 minutes work over all that time.

Before I go to bed:

  • Take the sourdough starter out of the fridge.
  • Mix 1 ¼ cups of unbleached bakers flour, 1 ¼ cups of water, and 1¼ cups of starter.  (I use my tank water, which has no chlorine or additives in it).
  • Put half of it back in the jar in the fridge.  You should be left with 1½ cups of fed starter, to put in a bowl covered with a clean cloth on the kitchen bench for the night. By morning it should be frothy, like the picture.
  • Soak two thirds of a cup of pearled barley in two and a half cups of water with a good teaspoon of salt.  (Don’t forget the salt) I soak and cook it in my pressure cooker.

Next morning:

As soon as I get up, while the coffee is brewing, I stir two big handfuls of rolled barley into the starter, and let it sit and soak in.

At the same time, I turn the pressure cooker on and pressure cook the soaked barley for ten minutes. (Without a pressure cooker, you could boil. It should take around 30 minutes to cook to soft).

After I’ve had my breakfast,  by which time the barley is cooked and slightly cooled, I stir in the cooked barley into the starter and rolled barley mix, It makes a very thick batter, so thick you can stand a spoon up in it. I add a cup of unbleached bakers flour, tip another half a cup of flour on my benchtop and have another half a cup ready.  I tip the mix out onto it, and with floured hands knead in the flour, adding as much more flour as I need to get a ball of soft, springy, not too sticky bread dough.

This whole stage takes less than five minutes. It probably makes better bread the more you knead, but I never have that much time or patience, or incentive to try.

Put a good dollop of macadamia (or olive) oil in a large bowl, swirl the dough ball around in it to coat, cover the bowl with a clean cloth, and leave out on the benchtop for the day to prove.

When I get home at 5.30

The dough will be two to three times the size it was when I left.  I tip it out onto the benchtop (it’s already oily so no need to flour) and knead very briefly – a minute or so – then put it in a oiled baking tin. Slash the top with a sharp knife, cover with the clean cloth again and leave again.

(If I’m home late, it is a pain. It really needs that two hours for the second rise, and I turn into a pumpkin at about 8.30 pm!)

At 7.30

The bread will have doubled in size again.  I put the loaf in the middle of a cold oven, turn the oven on to medium hot, and bake.  It takes about 40 minutes in my oven.  I know when it is done when the crust is nicely browned and it sounds hollow.



{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Jode March 1, 2012, 2:59 pm

    Sounds great…looks yum too of course! i love the nutty taste of barley and often put it into slowcooker stews….great with lamb shanks.

  • Kari @ bite-sized thoughts March 1, 2012, 6:15 pm

    What a great bread idea. I like barley in most cooked dishes I’ve tried it in so I suspect I’d like this too. I can see why it challenges your standard!

  • Sharon March 3, 2012, 12:09 pm

    Hi Linda
    I am keen to try making bread from sour dough starter, I’ve made quite a lot of bread the usual way and I like the sound of doing this step by step so it doesn’t take too long. I can’t find a recipe on your website for the starter though. I’ve looked at lots of books and online but they all seem different.
    I started one this morning using the most basic recipe I could fine, a cup of flour (organic half white and half wholemeal) and about 3/4 cup of rain water. I think it will take about a week of feeding to be ready to use…?
    in the mean time i have made a barley loaf using the yeast method, couldn’t wait a week!

  • Linda March 3, 2012, 1:13 pm

    Hi Sharon, I was given my starter, and I’ve given some away to everyone I can so that if I ever lose it, I’ll be able to get it back from them. It’s interesting that before I started with sourdough I’d heard of it but had no real idea what it was and didn’t know anyone baking it. The minute I started, sourdough bakers seemed to pop up all over my world, at a few degrees of separation, but still – my niece’s ex, my sister-in-law’s bestie, my friend’s son’s friend’s mum…if you ask around you may find there’s someone in your world. Otherwise, I haven’t tried it, but in Cityhippyfarmgirl has a recipe that lots of people seem to have made successfully.

  • celia March 4, 2012, 8:40 am

    Linda, I found a bag of pearl barley in the pantry and was wondering what to do with it – now I know! I’ll try working some cooked barley into a loaf – not sure I can get rolled barley easily though. I love that your breads are so uniquely yours – we both start with the same starter, and end up with such different loaves! (And thanks for the mention too!) 🙂

  • Robyn June 22, 2012, 9:05 am

    I’ve been tinkering with the thought of sourdough bread but after reading this post I’ll have to try it as your barley bread looks and sounds wonderful and I’m always trying new methods of putting more fibre into DH’s diet – he’s a purchased white bread eater :(. No imagination in his taste buds.

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