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.
© 2005 Tom Jaine. All rights reserved.