Tuesday 15 January 2013

Sourdough with 20% Barley Flour

I'm always on the lookout for new flour to bake bread with, newly milled flour of course is always a winner, but the other day I came across some barley flour and I thought I would give it a go. As a rule I don't add more than 20% of any flour to my strong white bread flour unless I already know how well it is going to perform. From the feel of the dough I would say that 20% was about right in this instance, any more and the texture would be compromised by this low gluten flour. Add more if you wish more of the nutty flavour but expect a denser loaf.

You will need:
For the ferment,
100g of starter from the fridge
200g of strong white flour
200g of water

For the main dough'
All of the ferment
1,000g of Strong White flour
300g of Barley flour
700g of water
100g of malt extract
20g of salt.

 Begin by making up the ferment, mix all the ingredients and set aside covered in a 1 litre bowl. It's winter here in Norfolk and the first snow has fallen, the house is cold and so this ferment took 26 hours before it was showing really good signs of vigorous growth, bubbles bursting regularly and the surface caving in on itself in creases.
Add the main dough ingredients, omitting the salt and malt. Mix to thoroughly combine and leave covered overnight. In the morning add the salt and the malt and continue mixing for a couple of minutes to ensure even distribution.
Transfer the dough to a Tupperware type container, large enough to allow it to nearly double in volume. The dough needs to rise for at least 4 hours with a stretch and fold every hour. You should notice the dough becoming stronger with the gluten development at each stretch and fold. Finally divide the dough into 3 and on a well floured surface, form each piece into an oval loaf shape before placing with the seam side up in a well floured banneton proving basket to rise. Leave the dough to rise, in my case for 3 hours at around 12C before baking in a hot oven 220C for 30 to 35 minutes.
The addition of barley flour in this bread, produces not only a delicious flavoured crumb but an extra chewy crust, which for me is always welcome. The more you chew the crust on a good loaf of bread the deeper the flavour


Increasingly I find people putting bread recipes on the internet which sound more and more complicated and inaccessible. It's almost as though an elite of modern bread bakers is being created. My main goal is to have more people baking their own daily bread, whether it's a simple white loaf made with commercial yeast to something more substantial made with wild yeast that has taken a couple of days to produce. Baking bread should not be difficult, the number of ingredients is very low. The experience of baking bread brings with it, its own tutorials so long as you keep trying and asking why things turn out the way they do.The biggest thing I need to manage in order to bake bread is my time. Bread, especially good bread  cannot be rushed, so organising when I can be around to move dough on from one stage to the next sometimes takes planning. Ive been baking bread now for 50 years and I am still finding clues to perfect the art. The results bring me pleasure on so many levels, but what they don't do is place me in some elite group. I'm the first to admit I don't write recipes in a manner that spells out the finest detail, but if you fancy having a go at one of my recipes, do try and if you run into difficulties, get in touch and I will try to help, happy baking.


  1. I love barley. It's an incredibly high fibre grain and I use it for risottos etc. but never bread. I am going to give this recipe a try and see if I can't replicate that beautiful crumb. Thankyou, again, for another fantastic bread recipe. Your bread is consistently top grade

  2. What is malt extract? Is it the same as diastatic malt powder?

    1. Hello and thank you for your enquiry, malt extract is definitely not the same as diastatic malt powder, which is used in far smaller quantities. Malt extract is sold in the UK in jars, much like honey and indeed like honey it is often used to spread on toast, cereal or to sweeten hot milk, which is how you make malted milk. My memory of it is a child is being given a spoonful every day during the winter months to ward off cold bugs, I later learned this was malt extract with cod liver oil, it sounds disgusting but it has a surprisingly nice flavour. Best wishes Tôbi

    2. Ahhh...thank you. In Canada and the US we can purchase that in a health food store as organic Barley Malt made by Eden. Had some in my cupboard! Off to bake that luscious bread now.....

  3. Saw these loaves over at YeastSpotting. I have been experimenting with barley flour in bread too. So far, the most I've use is about 6% (together with white and wholewheat flours) so thank you for posting about your attempt. Your loaves look perfect!

    1. Hello and thank you for your comment, I was pleased with how high a percentage of barley flour I was able to use, I do like to maintain texture wherever I can. I think the secret is to use a strong bread flour with a high protein content, the one I use is around 15%. Happy baking and best wishes, Tôbi

  4. Help! I have been trying to make a sourdough starter and have feed it after a couple of days but it has not risen but there are a few bubble is it still alive and ggod to us??

    1. Hello, Thank you for your question, establishing a starter can sometimes take a few attempts; it does sound as though you do have some life in it and it may be worth persevering with your current batch. I always find a little whole grain rye flour encourages a starter and certainly when I take some from my main starter which I keep in the fridge I use a proportion of rye flour to get the initial ferment going. A starter once established does improve after 2 or 3 weeks so it's really worth having the patience to establish one that will serve you well for years to come. Don't hesitate in starting again if you think this one isn't getting anywhere and look out for an unpleasant smell coming from it, this means you have somehow managed to get yourself an unwelcome combination of bacteria and yeast. A healthy starter should smell slightly sour but not unpleasant. This web address may answer some of your questions more fully http://www.culturesforhealth.com/sourdough-troubleshooting-faq. You will find that it's far easier and less of a mystery than you think, and having a starter in the fridge allows you to produce great bread products so do persevere. I wish you luck and of course you are always welcome to get back to me if things are not working out, happy baking, Tôbi

    2. Thanks for your sdvice, I will continue to persevere. Cheers Tobi Matey! x


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.