Barley was one of the more common grains used in baking in Wales, less so in England, and its beautiful flavour and colour of the milled grain is almost forgotten. Barley is much more typical in baking when it’s sprouted and malted, and we have a great range of BakeryBits malted barley that gives loaves a great rise and flavour.
There are two ways you can use barley flour in a recipe like this. Either using Matthews Heritage Bibury Barley Flour for the whole loaf, for a great combination of barley flakes and flavour. Or mill your own using our Mockmill Tabletop Flour Mill and Hodmedods Naked Barley grain, giving you an extra fresh flavour. Or use Mulino Marino's excellent Organic Sette Effe flour which contains seven grains including barley.
I make this in the evening, and leave it to rise in a banetton overnight in the fridge, then bake it from cold in the Challenger Bread Pan or similar.
Makes one medium-sized loaf
The night before baking pour the water into a bowl, start with the smaller amount as you can add extra water later to suit your preference. Add the yeast, whisk until dissolved, then quickly stir in the flour evenly. Cover the bowl and leave for 20 minutes then sprinkle on the salt, with a dash extra water if you want it soft and stretchy (this will help create bigger bubbles in the crumb but will need a little practice first if you’re unsure) and lightly fold this through.
Leave the dough to rise covered at room temperature for about 90-120 minutes, giving it a light stretch and fold every 40 minutes. Once you have signs of aeration (like bubbles) in the dough it’s ready to shape.
Line your round banetton with a square of lightly floured muslin (or use a 18cm round deep bowl or similar). Shape the dough into a ball, place it seam-side up on the cloth, pick it up like a knapsack and lower it into the banetton (or bowl). Place this in the refrigerator to rise slowly overnight.
The following day it should have risen by about half, don't expect it to have puffed up much more. Heat the oven to 220C fan and, if you’re using it, have your bread pan heating up inside it. If the dough is quite soft and you’re worried that it might stick to the muslin, give it 40 minutes in the freezer as this will make peeling off the cloth much, much easier.
When the oven is hot, upturn the dough onto a tray (or the base of the bread pan), peel off the cloth and slash the top. Spray the top of the loaf with water (and place the bread pan top on the base if using. Place in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes, reducing the heat after 20 minutes (or remove the lid off the bread pan) so the loaf doesn't get too dark.