Buttermilk Barley Bread

By • April 24, 2011 53 Comments

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Author Notes: Did you know that the word “companion” comes from the Latin, “companio” meaning literally, “"with bread"” or implicitly, "those with whom you share bread"? In my entire adult life, there have been few things I ha’ve enjoyed more than baking bread and sharing it. This loaf represents the old and the new in my bread baking. I started putting toasted wheat germ in my sandwich loaves when I started baking four or five of them every week, when my sons were very young. Barley flour and barley flakes have made their way into my cupboard more recently. If you are afraid of making yeast breads, consider this: once you get to know them, you'll see that they are actually quite flexible and forgiving. As we all should be. Enjoy!! ;o) - AntoniaJames AntoniaJames

Food52 Review: This tasty bread lends itself more to the sweeter spectrum (honey + jam), than the savory. The quantities and times for kneading and rising are as close to perfect as you can get when making bread. I added the gluten with the second addition of flour as wasn't sure from the recipe when to add it. Be sure to heed AntoniaJames's advice and wait until the bread has completely cooled before slicing into it. - thehappycook

Makes 1 good sized loaf, boule or batard

  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk (1% is fine)
  • ½ cup (54 grams) rolled barley flakes
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (or less, if you prefer a longer rise)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 - 2¼ cups (280 grams) bread flour (You may need just a bit more for kneading.)
  • 3 tablespoons (20 grams) toasted wheat germ
  • ½ cup (70 grams) barley flour
  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) gluten
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil for brushing the dough before baking
  1. In the bowl in which you plan to make the dough, soak the barley flakes in the buttermilk for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Put the yeast into a small bowl with the sugar and ¼ cup of warm water. Stir it a bit, until the yeast begins to dissolve. Then let it proof while you measure your other ingredients.
  3. Into the bowl with the buttermilk and barley flakes, put the olive oil, honey and baking soda; stir well to combine.
  4. Stir in 1 cup of bread flour, the salt, barley flour and wheat germ.
  5. Add the foamy yeast and water, the all-purpose flour and all but ¼ cup of the remaining bread flour. Stir and then knead until the ingredients come together. If the dough is very sticky, add the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  6. Once you’ve kneaded the dough for about five minutes, let it rest for at least ten minutes.
  7. Then knead for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough is supple and elastic. Only add more flour – and then don’t use more than another one teaspoon at a time -- if the dough is so sticky that it clings to your fingers when you press them firmly onto the surface of the dough.
  8. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil into a clean bowl, then roll the dough over to coat it entirely with oil.
  9. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow it to rise until doubled. Depending on the ambient temperature and how much yeast you used, it should take about an hour and a half, at a minimum.
  10. Press the dough gently to push out the gasses created by the yeast, shaping it first into a rectangle that’s about as long as you want your loaf to be. Then shape it into a loaf by folding the two long edges together and pinching them tight. Put the dough, seam side down, into a well oiled loaf pan.
  11. Or, shape the dough into a somewhat flat ball to create a “boule.” To keep it from spreading out as it rises, set the ball inside the ring of a spring form pan, on a piece of parchment, for the second rise.
  12. Brush the shaped dough with some more olive oil. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow it to rise again, but this time, only let it rise to increase about another 3/4 in size. It will rise more in the oven, and you’ll get a nicer crumb if your second rise is a bit shorter. The second rise should take between 30 and 45 minutes (or less, if it's rising in a warm place).
  13. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  14. When the oven is hot and the dough has completed its second rise, brush the dough with a bit more olive oil.
  15. Remove the spring form ring, if using, and slide a baking sheet under the parchment.
  16. Slash the top of the loaf in diagonal cuts that are about ¼ inch deep. (Some people like to make a single, long slash lengthwise on their rectangular loaf. Feel free to do so, if you are one of them.)
  17. Bake for 55 - 60 minutes, or until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Check after 30 minutes and tent lightly if the top seems to be darkening too quickly. Doughs full of milk typically darken quite a bit more, so keep an eye on it, if you don't care for a very dark crust.
  18. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow the loaf to sit for at least an hour before slicing.
  19. Enjoy!! ;o)
  20. N.B. This can also be made using regular whole milk instead of buttermilk. If you do, omit the baking soda. ;o)

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