Some little while ago I was able to get some malted barley from Redlands Estate here in the Derwent Valley. I had the notion to include it in my homemade bread, so tried grinding it in my huge old faithful wheat grinder, but that worked not at all. In fact, it turned into a paste on the grinding plates – took a strong wire brush to remove it and then with difficulty. So much for that option.
Next I tried the food processor and, while it worked to a degree, the machine wasn’t all that happy about it and overheated rather alarmingly.
Next, mortar and pestle, with Robert persevering with this for an hour or so with limited success. Finally I tried the good old slow cooker, making a type of barley porridge which in turn I thought could be included in the bread. This worked a treat. At first I put a stick blender through the ‘porridge’, breaking up the barley, but soon I came to prefer to leave the grains whole. When they are included in the bread, each grain then releases a little pouch of creamed barley when you bite into it, very pleasing indeed.
Because the grains are so soft from their slow cooking, they don’t tear the strands of gluten in the dough and so the texture of the bread is really good.
I include some spelt in the dough mixture – it’s earthiness matches perfectly to the barley.
Anyway, here is the recipe to try (time to share it now I know it works), along with photo of a batch of the bread baking in the oven recently. That day I’d made a double batch so that I could bake some of the dough in little clay pots, which makes the loaves especially delicious.
Malted Barley Bread
½ cup malted barley
1½ cups cold water
2 cups plain flour
2 cups spelt flour
4 teaspoons dried yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar (or 2 of mild flavoured honey)
2 tablespoons olive oil (mild flavoured)
½ to 1 cup warm water, approximately – optional
1 egg,, whisked together with 1 tablespoon water
The first step is to cook the barley, which is best done in a slow cooker, the size of which is no larger than 3.5 litre capacity. In fact I make triple this amount in a 3.5 litre cooker and freeze the two unused portions for a later batch of bread.
To slow cook the barley, place in a slow cooker with the cold water. Set temperature to Low and cook for 3 hours. Pour into a container and leave to cool to lukewarm, then process with a stick blender to make a barely ‘porridge’. Do this only briefly as you still want some of the grains left whole. Or, simply use the porridge as it is with all the grains still whole.
To make the barley dough, in a large bowl mix together the flours, yeast, salt and sugar. Make a well in the centre and pour in the oil, together with the barley porridge and mix to a soft dough, adding extra warm water if needed. I’ve found it’s good to keep back a little of the barley porridge and certainly the water as flours take up different amounts of liquid on different days, according to the level of moisture that may be in the flour at any given time.
Mix well with a spoon and then cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise until approximately doubled. Turn the dough over with a spoon, then leave to rise again.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and sprinkle with extra flour. Knead briefly and then shape into two balls, making sure the tops are smooth and even.
Grease a large loaf tin, 13cm x 21cm approximately and place the balls of dough inside. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise almost to the top of the tin.
Brush with the combined egg/water mix.
Bake for 40 minutes at 200 degrees C (fan forced).
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.