I keep on choosing the weirdest recipes out of The Handmade Loaf, the book by the English breadmaker Dan Lepard, it’s already well-thumbed. I try to avoid normal white wheat flour for diet reasons, that’s why I usually prefer to use other flours for breadmaking, which undoubtedly make things more difficult for me. Now I wanted to try my hand at these barley flatbreads… it’s the first time I ever taste barley in my life. A short time ago I bought a bag of whole barley flour at the health shop, so I needed to use it. That’s right, that’s the way I do things, first I buy the ingredients and then I find out what to do with them. I know, it’s not the best method, but I know no other way. I’m already too old to change. And by the way, this recipe goes to Susan/Wild Yeast and her Yeastspotting, although this week it will be hosted by Nick.
- 200 g water
- 50 g barley flour
- Overnight batter
- 150 g barley flour
- 1 tsp ground malted barley
- 1/2 tsp fresh yeast
- 1/2 tsp good sea salt
- Additional flour for dusting
You have to start the day before by preparing the batter. The purpose of this batter is, according to the author, to give more elasticity to the bread, otherwise it would be too brittle. Bring the water to a boil and then let cool to 80 ºC. Add the flour, mix well to avoid any lumps and leave to cool and rest overnight.
The next day mix the batter with the rest of the ingredients till you have a soft dough (it looks a bit like cement, I must say…). Then leave it to rest for 2 hours or until you notice that it has puffed up a bit. Tip the dough onto a floured counter and roll it to around 5 mm thick. Then cut it in rectangles and put them on a floured oven tray to proof for another 45 minutes, well covered, especially if you live in a very dry climate like me (I put them inside bin bags).
In the meantime heat the oven to 210 ºC (slightly less if your oven is convection type, I had to lower the temperature a little bit). Put the trays in the oven and bake the breads for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to around 180 ºC and cook for some 10 minutes longer for the bread to crisp. The recipe indicates 25 minutes, my breads didn’t take that long, it depends on the oven. Watch them closely to prevent them from overbrowning. Once baked, take them out and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Result: I don’t know why, but I love these weird and dry breads, the same happens with rye breads. They taste different from regular bread and are perfect for spreading soft cheeses or with a lot of other things, from smoked salmon to butter and jam. Now that I’ve tried barley in breads, I will definitely bake more of these breads in the future. And now, will you excuse me, I must be going, I need to try the combination with some olives paté I keep in my fridge…