Barley grains and rye bread

Very moist bread; smells and looks a lot like the “classic German bread”, sour and dark-ish.

This was an experiment; I wanted to do something different and also to use things that I found in the cupboard, to avoid things going stale.

So I found barley grains and I wondered what could I do with them?

There are two recipes featuring barley in Dan Leppard’s “the handmade loaf” book; one used barley flour and the other one used barley grains. The one with the flour looked more like what I wanted to do, so… I decided to mix the two and see what would happen!

I initially didn’t plan on baking it in a tin, but the dough was extremely sticky, and no matter how much time I spent trying to knead, or slap and fold it, or how much oil I applied to my hands before kneading, or just simply how long I waited for the flour to absorb water, would help much in reducing the stickiness. At the end I just said “screw you, I’m going to place you in a tin and let you prove yourself!”—and yes, it’s totally acceptable to talk to your sourdough starters and/or breads 😜

Ingredients

  • 250g sourdough rye starter
  • 300g water 20℃
  • 300g strong white flour
  • 125g cooked barley grains (100g of uncooked will produce ~300g, so you’ll have a nice excess for salads, soups, etc)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 100g rye flour

Preparation

  1. If you haven’t cooked the grains yet, put them in a pot with water, cover, bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes or until they’re tender (don’t allow them to disintegrate!). Then drain. (Alternatively, I guess you can use pre-cooked grains)
  2. In a big bowl, mix the sourdough starter and water together and dissolve.
  3. Add the salt, flours and the barley grains, and mix everything. Knead it a bit to finish mixing thoroughly.
  4. Then scrap any dough from your hands back to the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Uncover, knead very lightly again (keep turning the dough around, in about 20 seconds), then leave to rest for 10 minutes. Do this a few times (2 or 3).
  6. If it goes well, each time you do this, the dough feels more elasticated and soft. If it DOESN’T and it’s damn sticky, then…
    • give it some more time (perhaps 15 or 30 minutes), or
    • try slap and fold, or…
    • give up and place it in a tin, cover and leave the dough in a warm place to prove 😂
  7. Set the oven to 200ºC, place the bread three quarters down from the top, and bake for about 45 minutes.
  8. Take the bread out of the tin and let it finish cooking and cool down over a rack so it ventilates and dries out properly.

Stats

  • Bread number: 1 (in 2019)
  • Looks: 6, very average looking. It didn’t raise much, holes pretty irregular, the folding isn’t very good. Decently browned outside. Crust is very thin and crumbles easily.
  • Smells: 7, nicely sour.
  • Tastes: 6, way less sour than you’d expect. No crunch, no chew. A touch too moist, it won’t absorb butter or oil or anything.
  • Frustration level: 6. Quite annoying that it was so sticky, but at least the result is edible.
  • Would I try baking this again? Maybe, but perhaps I’d try to add a touch of flour each time I could not knead easily.

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