Recipe: pearl barley bread

tumblr_mw259ltOLm1r81hh6o2_r1_1280tumblr_mw259ltOLm1r81hh6o1_1280tumblr_mw259ltOLm1r81hh6o3_r1_1280tumblr_mw259ltOLm1r81hh6o4_r1_1280I’m sharing this recipe with you on a Friday in the hopes that before bed, you will knock up the dough and treat yourself to a delicious breakfast tomorrow. The weather is cold and miserable so treats are most definitely in order, especially the sort that pretty much make themselves overnight.

Influenced by the course that I’ve just finished studying, this recipe uses the same method as my no-knead Dutch oven bread but is chock full of pearl barley to give texture and wholemeal flour for an extra nutty depth to the flavour. I’ve also used malted flour, which is available from most big supermarkets, but if you have trouble finding it then using strong white bread flour is fine – the great thing about bread is that it’s so adaptable!

Pearl barley bread

  • 50g pearl barley flakes (approximately 3 handfuls)
  • 250g malted flour
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of dried yeast
  • 350ml tepid water

The night before you want to bake, start off by combining the yeast with the warm water. You should start to see little bubbles appear at the edges and the water should turn milky, this means that the yeast is waking up nicely.

In another bowl, mix the salt, pearl barley flakes, malted and wholemeal flours together well and then add to the water and yeast mixture. Turn it with a spatula until everything is mixed. It will look wet and shaggy, but that’s fine, just cover with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight. The dough will enlarge to at least twice it’s size as it proves – so make sure it is in a large bowl and has room to grow.

In the morning (or at least after 6-8 hours) take some flour and generously coat your work surface. Scrape your dough out of the bowl – be careful with it, as you don’t want to manhandle it too much at this point, as you may knock out some of the air that’s developed inside it during proving, which will give you a nice holey texture when baked.

Put a lidded casserole pot in the oven, and preheat to 250 degrees centigrade. Meanwhile fold the dough over on itself once and cover with a tea towel whilst you’re waiting for the oven to warm up so that it doesn’t dry out.

Once your oven is up to temperature, carefully take out your casserole pot, scoop up your dough and put it in. with a lid on, return the dish to the oven for about 40 minutes. You may (as I usually do) want to take the lid off the pot about 10 minutes prior to taking the loaf out, so that the crust gets a chance to crisp up.

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