Homemade Barley Bread

Homemade Barley Bread

Bring a touch of medieval England to your modern kitchen by baking a hardy loaf of barley and wheat bread. In a few hours’ time, your kitchen can smell like a warm bakery with the end result being a delicious loaf of bread. This bread pairs well with soup, beans, and even a simple spread of butter and honey, making a good accompaniment to a meal or a quick and filling breakfast option.

Barley fell out of fashion as the industrial age saw the processing of grains go from a time consuming chore to a faster, machine run process. However there is something to be said for the flavor that come from taking the long way around. Sure, to make this recipe work you either have to grind up your own barley or find barely flour in your local specialty foods shop, but the richness of the flavor will the blandness of white bread any day.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ c.  Barley flour
  • 3 C. all purpose white wheat flour
  •  ½ tsp. baking soda
  •  ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dry active yeast
  • 2 tblsp. Sugar
  • 1 c. hot water
  • 2 tblsp. Honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Directions

1. Combine yeast, sugar, and water in a large mixing bowl, stir gently and let the yeast come to life. You will be able to smell the bread-like scent of the yeast and see bubbles begin to form on top of the mixture. If you do not see bubbles within ten minutes, the yeast cells are not viable and you must start over with a fresh batch.
2. While you are waiting for your yeast to proof, prepare the dry mixture. If you are unable to find prepared barley flour, make your own by using your food processor (or a pedestal and mortar like I use) to grind pearled barley grain into powder. Don’t worry if your barley flour is a little rough as that will just add texture to your finished bread.
3. Combine barley flour, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a clean mixing bowl and use sift the ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
4. Add dry ingredients to proofed yeast and combine.
5. Add the remainder of your wet ingredients: egg and honey, to the dough and mix until all of the flour is pulled away from the bowl into a nice ball of dough.
6. Flour your hands and knead the dough for five to ten minutes until you get a smooth ball. Leave dough in the bowl, cover with a warm, damp cloth, and let rise for one hour.
7. Remove dough from bowl and place on a floured surface. Flour your hands and knead the dough for five to ten minutes until it is again in a smooth ball. Return to bowl, cover and let rise again.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Remove dough from bowl and knead a third time.
10. Brush a load pan or baking sheet with olive oil and place dough in the pan. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and let rise for ten minutes on top of the warming stove.
11. Bake your bread for 35-40 minutes until the resulting loaf sound firm and slightly hollow.
12. Remove bread from pan and let cool on a cooling rack or slice and serve warm.

Cooking Tip

1. To make a delicious honey butter to spread on your fresh barley bread at breakfast or as a snack, simply soften a stick of butter or margarine and mix in 2 tablespoons of honey. Set the mixture in the refrigerator to firm up for 30 minutes before spreading.