The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Barley Soaker

tsjohnson85's picture

While combing through odds and ends in my grain cupboard—and whilst keeping in mind my dark rye starter was getting low and I was out of said dark rye flour—I thought it might be nice to use a barley soaker. 

The formula is nothing special, except for a very small amount of rye starter for the levain and my thought that it might be interesting to use the remaining water left over from the soaker in the final build.  I think I may have under estimated how much kick my rye starter actually has, given the big oven spring the loaf had—even with 24 hours of proofing (the last 4 atop a warm oven).


120 g whole wheat flour

90 g tepid water

10 g rye starter @ 100% hydration



50 g pearl barley

1 cup boiling water (approx. 240 g)

Preferment and soaker were both left out at room temperature (roughly 65 F / 18.3 C) for 12 hours. 

Final Dough

All of the preferment

300 g water (tap and water not absorbed by barley soaker)

15 g molasses

100 g whole wheat flour

300 g bread flour

11 g salt

Water and molasses were mixed with the preferment and then added to the remaining flours.  The dough was then left to rest for 30 minutes.  After resting it was kneaded for 5 or so minutes and then the salt and barley were added.  I have no good method for adding in whole grains—or nuts or raisins for that matter.  I spread out the dough as if I were to give it a good stretch and fold and then spread the barley across the top.  Then, I rolled the dough up and kneaded it: if my hands have different speed settings, this would have to be considered a low setting.  And each time a grain of barley popped out of the dough, I diligently—if not altogether Quixotically—poked it back into place.  Once the barley appeared to be integrated into the dough I formed it into a boule and placed it into a lightly oiled bowl. 

Stretch and folds were done to the dough at 30 and 60 minutes.  The total bulk fermentation time was 2 hours 30 minutes.

At the end of fermentation I turned the dough out, pre-shaped it for my oval banneton and let it rest for 20 minutes.  After the rest, the loaf was shaped, dusted with flour and parked in the banneton.  The banneton then went into the fridge for a nice and long 20 hours. 

After 20 hours the bread was removed from the fridge and placed atop a warm oven for 4 hours to finish proofing and come to room temperature (on low while breakfast was being prepared, then the oven was cranked up to prepare for the bake).  

The bread baked at 500 F with steam for 15 minutes and then another 25 minutes without steam at 450 F.

The bread has a good wheaty taste with a slight sweet-pungency added by the molasses.  The smell is definitely molasses as well, but not quite to the level of sticking your nose in the molasses jar.  I cannot say I can taste the barley, but the grains do give it a nice textural surprise. 


Appleseeed's picture


This christmas my Dad and I decided to combine our two passions (homebrewing, and baking, respectively). He came up with the idea of making two different types of soakers, a sweet mash of various homebrewing grains, and a sour mash of "acidulated barley malt". I was extremely interested, and so we went out and tasted the malts until we decided which ones ot use, and I just eyeballed how much of each, and the rest of the proportions, based on my past usage of soakers in breads (maybe twice). We then grinded the grains very coarsely by hand, and proceeded with the soakers. This is the recipe we ended up at:

OZ                  ingr                      Grams                  %

Sacc Mash   
1.5White Wheat42.521.45%
Sour Mash   
57Bread Flour1615.9255.00%
103.64 2938.14100.00%

The sweet mash malts were ground very coarsely by hand. I think we actually forgot to grind the sour mash malt.  The sour mash was at 98 degrees fahrenheit (the LB bacteria thrive at body temp), and the sweet mash was at about 145 degrees fahrenheit (no real reason, was actually shooting higher, but we just wanted to get maximum enzymatic action to release the sugars in the malt). We immediately put them into a warmed lunch box, in a warm cooler, and let them sit overnight.

Today I mixed the dry ingredients, added the mashes, then added the water. My initial guess ended up being way too much water so I ended up having to add about 20 oz of flour, and some salt, and adjust the numbers a bit, until it felt kneadable.

Kneaded it for a while by hand, with a few 20 - 40 min long autolyses. It was a lot of dough so it took a while. Ended up being nice and quite tacky but not overly sticky. Let rise until doubled. Degassed/shaped into two loaves and one boule, ~33g a piece.. Let rise until fingerprint didn't pop out again. The boule was overproofed, even though i put it in a 50 degree environment.  Extra hour did the trick and caused a slightly flatter bread than would have been possible. No biggy. The second loaf pan went into fridge for an overnight retard, will bake tomorrow and update blog. Pics:




Turned out great, although slightly underdone, and a few of the barley grains were a bit too crunchy(maybe the acidulated malt). Next perhaps time a slightly finer grind, and a longer baking time. Today the final temp was around 200, and I didn't have my instant read digital. Tomorrow I'll make sure it hits 210.

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