Buttermilk Barley Bread

By • April 24, 2011 • 53 Comments



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
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 (128 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)

Comments (53) Questions (4)

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over 2 years ago BavarianCook

AntoniaJames - thank you! What a delightful loaf. I just made it and it is fabulous. I only had barley flakes, no barley flour, so I ground up enough of the flakes for the equivalent of barley flour in the recipe. Also did not have gluten and left it out. Used a ceramic baker and covered it about halfway through the baking time with some parchment paper. Thanks so much for the great recipe and thorough instructions!!

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almost 3 years ago chef_ub

Hello again AJ! I do believe that you will indeed be remembered for this recipe, thank you! I took your inspiration to make my first trial version using levain and retarded dough, tented with foil about half way through and finished to internal center temp of 205º. The flavor is outstanding, the crumb- beautiful. I took the liberty of posting an image of my loaf- I hope you won't mind. Happy Baking! Cheers, chef_ub

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Just to update this: If you want a longer rise with a pre-ferment, do the following: In a large, preferably somewhat shallow bowl, stir together 150 grams of bread flour with 150 grams of water and 3/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast. Cover with a tea towel and allow to sit at room temperature for 6 - 8 hours. Add the remaining ingredients, but no more yeast, and use 3/4 cup of buttermilk instead of 1 1/4 cup. Stir as long as you can with a heavy wooden spoon (or use your bread hook in your stand mixer) and then knead for about five minutes, or until the dough has come together, i.e., it's a uniform consistency. Immediately put into an oiled container that's about 1 1/2 times the size of the dough ball, cover tightly, and put in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Allow the dough to come to room temperature -- that takes about 1.5 or 2 hours in my rather chilly kitchen -- still covered, then gently shape and let rise, and then bake, according to Instructions 10 et seq. I've got a loaf in the oven now, made using this method. I'll post photos later today. (It's a beauty.) ;o)

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about 3 years ago JayKayTee

Sure, I'll copy and paste to the Buttermilk Oatmeal recipe and Foodpickle. Thanks for your input. I seem to do well with bread until the oven.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've posted some more thoughts there, on foodpickle. But I do hope that the other bread bakers among us will weigh in on this! I'm certain that any learning with respect to the buttermilk oatmeal loaf will be equally applicable to this one, as they are quite similar in all respects except the second grain. Thanks, everyone. ;o)

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about 3 years ago JayKayTee

AJ, I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand for this bread (I will!) but did for your Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread - made it last night. The baking bread aroma was heavenly as is the texture and taste of the finished product. Thank you, I am continuously looking for hearty tasty breads.

I do have a question. The loaf, I used a metal loaf pan, browned up very quickly. I covered it before ten minutes had ticked off the clock. In looking at the cut end of the loaf I see that the deep dark brown crust is quite thick all around the loaf. The internal temperature registered just over 200 degrees. Do you have any suggestions on how to reduce the amount of exterior bread that gets too browned?

Notes: My oven seems to be consistent in its internal temperature; the rack was at the high middle position; it is an electric oven (not convection); and I usually have the problem of bread being under baked when using the recipe stated time.

Thank you for these great bread recipes and for your help to a fledgling bread baker.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Hi, JayKay,Tee. I almost always use a clay pot when I bake bread, and I have a convection oven, but I have noticed that the metal pans do make the crust a lot darker and thicker. Also, milk in yeast doughs tend to make the crust very dark. My inclination would be to lower the heat a bit, and to put the pan right in the middle of the oven or a bit lower, on a cookie sheet to protect it from the high heat coming up from the bottom. This would be a great question to post to foodpickle, as there are a lot of bakers in our community with an enormous amount, collectively and individually, of relevant experience. I don't know much about internal temperatures, but based on my experience, a thick, dark crust means the loaf has been in the oven too long. The bread will continue to cook inside once it's been removed from the oven, if you don't cut it. Anyway, would you mind going to the Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread recipe and then linking the question to foodpickle from there? If you don't wish to, please let me know and I will be happy to do so. This is such a great question; it's one our fellow bread bakers (including would-be bread bakers!) out there will find interesting. Thank you. ;o)

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about 3 years ago lapadia

Beautiful loaf of bread, beautiful story, AJ!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much, lapadia. ;o)

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about 3 years ago monkeymom

I love the headnote. The photo is fantastic as well. I clearly need to get some more barley flour!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

monkeymom, thank you on both counts and I agree, you really should get more barley flour. It's so good in biscuits and scones, and pancakes and waffles, and quick breads, and for thickening sauces, and . . . . . ;o)

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

AJ, I am so happy that you posted a bread to this contest. Of all your many wonderful recipes, when I think of you, I think of bread. The bread baking I have done has been inspired by you, your meticulous attention to detail, and your wonderful recipes. Thank you for sharing this.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You're welcome, and thank you so much for your kind words. I'm thankful to have inspired you and the others who have ventured into bread baking, encouraged or inspired by my recipes. ;o)

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about 3 years ago healthierkitchen

I still haven't made the leap to bread baking but this recipe is inspiring enough that I just might do it soon. I love that you've been tinkering with it over the years and always updating with new ingredients.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, HK. I hope you do try bread baking before too long. It will change your life. (Sounds a bit dramatic, but it's true.) Feel free to post or send questions, any time, about anything. ;o)

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about 3 years ago TiggyBee

This is lovely on every level...

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about 3 years ago Sagegreen

Ditto! Just lovely.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much, both of you. ;o)

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about 3 years ago JoanG

I can't wait to try this. Great recipe!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, JoanG. I hope you do try it. You'll fall in love with barley for bread making, if you haven't already . . . (Have you noticed that I've been putting barley flour into everything for about the past year?! It's wonderful in biscuits and scones, too.) ;o)

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about 3 years ago kmartinelli

It's already been said, but the bread looks stunningly perfect, the recipe looks simple enough to follow, and your headnote is beautiful.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You're so kind, kmartinelli. Thank you. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Panfusine

looks soo good, one is tempted to take a swipe at the screen!! I'd love to try making this!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much. I hope you do try it, panfusine. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Midge

What a beautiful loaf!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much, Midge! I really appreciate it. ;o)

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about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Thank you AJ for your wonderful words of wisdom, and wonderful sounding bread. Breaking bread with others is what cooking is all about, isn't it?!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, fiveandspice. I was thinking about the whole breaking bread thing yesterday on my daily hike in the redwoods nearby. Baking and sharing bread is one of an increasingly few activities that connects us with people everywhere, throughout the ages. And who doesn't love the smell of baking bread, or of a fragrant crust as you bite into a slice? ;o)

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Could not have said it better! This is a gorgeous recipe, AJ. Thank you!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you (and you're welcome!), gingerroot. ;o)

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about 3 years ago thirschfeld

Such a wonderful looking loaf of bread.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much, Mr Hirschfeld. I'm honored that you think so. Really hoping you'll submit a recipe to this contest. I cannot imagine what it will be, but I know that of course it will be amazing. ;o)

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Bevi, I hope you do make this. How nice, too, for your son. He will love and appreciate your doing this. I assume it will freeze fairly well. Not sure how much lead time you have, but you can always test it, if there's enough time between now and then. I'd probably not let the crust get too dark, and would bring it to room temperature on The Big Day, then warm it in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes at a fairly low temperature. That way, you get that wonderful welcoming smell, too. Let me know how it works out, please! ;o)

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about 3 years ago Pamela's Kitchen

~ You had me at Buttermilk ~

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, PK! If you like buttermilk breads, you should try my Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread, too. It's similar to this (comparable texture and crust, virtually the same instructions, etc.) If you search in recipes using "Buttermilk Oatmeal" it will be at the top in "relevance." I also posted a buttermilk orange sherbet recipe a few months ago, which you might like . . . . ;o)

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about 3 years ago wssmom

I love everything about this!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, wssmom! So does Mr. T. I made two loaves this weekend to test measurements, check/revise instructions, etc., and he's made short work of them. Great for toast, too. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

Great headnote. A reminder that, as Emerson said, language is fossil poetry.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love the Emerson quote. Thanks for reminding me, and for your kind comment as well. ;o)