Barley Bread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


    small loaf

Appears in

The ancient Greeks once thought barley the prince of grains, though by the time of Imperial Rome it was more often the diet of slaves, and in general it has come far behind wheat and rye as the raw material of bread. One problem is that it has no gluten to provide lift and elasticity, so, unless it is combined with another grain, it will make a heavy loaf. In the highlands of Britain and Europe where wheat does not grow easily, barley has nonetheless held an honourable position in the bakehouse, and its use has sometimes spread beyond the uplands when wet summers have occasioned poor wheat harvests.

Some old bread recipes combine both barley and potatoes for an acceptable loaf, but the recipe given here uses barley and wheat flours.


  • 15 g/½ oz fresh yeast
  • 225 ml/8 fl oz warm water
  • 2 tablespoons double cream
  • 175 g/6 oz stoneground brown (85% extraction) flour
  • 175 g/6 oz barley flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a little egg white mixed with a spoonful of cold water for glaze


  1. Cream the yeast in the warm water and cream. Mix the flours and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast liquid into the well and mix to a dough. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead for 8 minutes.
  2. Leave the dough to rise in a bowl covered with oiled clingfilm in a warm place (24°C/75°F) for about 1½ hours, until doubled in size. Turn out on to the lightly floured work surface, knock back and mould into a ball. Flatten the ball with the palm of your hand and carefully roll up to form a simple loaf to fit a slightly warmed and greased 450 g/1 lb loaf tin. Try not to tear the surface of the roll when moulding. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place (at least 24°C/75°F) for 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
  3. Brush the loaf with the egg white and water glaze, and bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes. The loaf is cooked when it sounds hollow when tapped. Leave it to cool on a wire rack.