Make Ahead

Buttermilk Barley Bread

April 24, 2011
3 Ratings
Photo by AntoniaJames
  • Makes 1 good sized loaf, boule or batard
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 have 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

Test Kitchen Notes

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
Victoria Ross

What You'll Need
  • 295 grams (1.2 cups 285 ml) buttermilk (1% is fine)
  • 54 grams (½ cup / 120 ml) rolled barley flakes
  • 7 grams (2 teaspoons / 10 ml) instant yeast
  • 36 grams (3 tablespoons / 45 ml) olive oil
  • 42 grams (2 tablespoons / 30 ml) honey, warmed
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 gram / 1.25 ml) baking soda
  • 6 grams (1 teaspoon / 5 ml) kosher salt
  • 405 grams (3.2 cups / 755 ml) bread flour
  • 14 grams (2-3 tablespoons / 30-45 ml) unsweetened toasted wheat germ (Different suppliers' products vary in their mass/volume. Please use a scale for best results.)
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup / 120 ml) barley flour
  • 10 grams (1 tablespoon / 15 ml) gluten
  • Olive oil for the bowl and the loaf pan
  1. Warm the buttermilk until hot to the touch - about 1 minute in the microwave. In the bowl of a stand mixer, soak the barley flakes for at least ten minutes in the buttermilk.
  2. Add 60 grams / 60 ml / 1/4 cup of water, and the baking soda, wheat germ, honey and olive oil; stir to blend. Add the yeast and stir again.
  3. Add the flours, gluten and salt. Stir just to combine. Run the dough hook for 3 minutes, stirring down once or twice if necessary to ensure that the flour if fully incorporated. Let rest for 20 - 25 minutes
  4. Knead using the dough hook for 12 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky. That's okay, because the dry cereal has not yet been fully absorbed.
  5. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil into a clean bowl; shape the dough into a ball, put it in the bowl and flip it over a few times, making sure that the dough is entirely coated with oil. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled, 60 - 90 minutes.
  6. Press the dough gently into a rectangle that’s about as long as your pan. Shape the dough into a loaf by rolling it tightly, starting with one of the long sides. Gently pinch the ends. Put the dough, seam side down, into a well-oiled loaf pan.
  7. Let rise until it domes about an inch above the rim of the pan. This should take about an hour, or a bit less. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Slash the top of the loaf and bake for 45 minutes, tenting with foil after 25 if the crust seems to be darkening quickly.
  9. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow the loaf to sit for at least an hour before slicing.
  10. This recipe was contributed by Food52 user, AntoniaJames.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • BavarianCook
  • chef_ub
  • AntoniaJames
  • lapadia
  • monkeymom

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

See problem, solve problem. Ask questions; question answers. Disrupt, with kindness, courtesy and respect. ;o)

56 Reviews

Paula W. December 18, 2021
My sister makes this bread often and I think it's a very good loaf. So I tried it today and this is entirely my fault but I do have a gripe. All ingredients are listed to measure by weight, volume and for some very odd reason liquid volume in ml. This makes no sense to me for dry ingredients. Please explain.
My big uh oh was instead of weighing 405 grams of bread flour I weighed 755 grams. As you can imagine I had crumbles instead of dough. When I went back over the recipe I found my error and simply added more buttermilk and water until I had what seemed to be a good bread dough hydration level.
I baked it in 2 loaf pans and the bread turned out well in the end.
One more thing: The salt in the recipe calls for 6 grams (1 teaspoon / 5 ml) kosher salt. Cook's Illustrated site says 1 tsp of Diamond Crystal Kosher is 2.8 gr. Morton Kosher is 4.8 gr and table salt is 6 grams. So brand of Kosher salt should be indicated in the recipe in my opinion.
When all is said and done, I can't wait to try this recipe again and measure everything correctly. I like everything about this bread.
A tip I learned from my sister is to balance another loaf pan on top during most of the baking for an incredibly high rising loaf. Remove for browning the last 5-10 minutes
Sadie June 24, 2019
I've been making a different yeast bread every week for a few years now and this is one of the favorites so far. The crumb is moist and soft. It's great for sandwiches or toasted. I followed the recipe for the most part, subbing barley malt syrup for the honey, and adding 2 tablespoons each of pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and sunflower seeds. Because of the addition of seeds I used 20 grams of gluten instead of 10. It makes a tall loaf in a 9X5 pan. My bread tested done after 40 minutes. The internal temperature was 205°. Excellent!
AntoniaJames June 28, 2019
Thank you, Sadie, for your kind words but more importantly, for your helpful tips. What a great idea, adding the three kinds of seeds! Sounds perfectly delicious. I look forward to trying that. ;o)
BavarianCook March 11, 2012
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!!
chef_ub August 20, 2011
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
AntoniaJames May 2, 2011
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)
JayKayTee April 28, 2011
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.
AntoniaJames April 28, 2011
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)
JayKayTee April 27, 2011
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.
AntoniaJames April 27, 2011
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)
lapadia April 27, 2011
Beautiful loaf of bread, beautiful story, AJ!
AntoniaJames April 27, 2011
Thank you so much, lapadia. ;o)
monkeymom April 27, 2011
I love the headnote. The photo is fantastic as well. I clearly need to get some more barley flour!
AntoniaJames April 27, 2011
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)
drbabs April 26, 2011
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.
AntoniaJames April 27, 2011
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)
healthierkitchen April 26, 2011
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.
AntoniaJames April 27, 2011
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)
TiggyBee April 26, 2011
This is lovely on every level...
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Ditto! Just lovely.
AntoniaJames April 26, 2011
Thank you so much, both of you. ;o)
JoanG April 26, 2011
I can't wait to try this. Great recipe!
AntoniaJames April 26, 2011
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)
kmartinelli April 26, 2011
It's already been said, but the bread looks stunningly perfect, the recipe looks simple enough to follow, and your headnote is beautiful.
AntoniaJames April 26, 2011
You're so kind, kmartinelli. Thank you. ;o)
Panfusine April 25, 2011
looks soo good, one is tempted to take a swipe at the screen!! I'd love to try making this!
AntoniaJames April 25, 2011
Thank you so much. I hope you do try it, panfusine. ;o)
Midge April 25, 2011
What a beautiful loaf!
AntoniaJames April 25, 2011
Thanks so much, Midge! I really appreciate it. ;o)
fiveandspice April 25, 2011
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?!
AntoniaJames April 25, 2011
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)
gingerroot April 25, 2011
Could not have said it better! This is a gorgeous recipe, AJ. Thank you!
AntoniaJames April 25, 2011
Thank you (and you're welcome!), gingerroot. ;o)
thirschfeld April 25, 2011
Such a wonderful looking loaf of bread.
AntoniaJames April 25, 2011
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)
AntoniaJames April 25, 2011
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)
Pamela's K. April 25, 2011
~ You had me at Buttermilk ~
AntoniaJames April 25, 2011
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)