The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Barley Flour

janij's picture

Barley Flour

I have a lot of barley and a mill.  I was wondering if anyone uses regular milled barley in their bread?  I know it doesn't have gluten so it would have to be added in small quanities.  I am just wondering if I could add some to my wheat or white bread.  Anyone have any experience with this?

GaryJ's picture

Here's a recipe that uses barley flour. I confess that I haven't tried the recipe myself yet. It is on my list of things to do and make though.

The recipe is from 'The Blessings of Bread' by Adrian Bailey (Paddington Press Ltd, 1975):-

"Haidd: Welsh barley bread

4 cups barley flour

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 package of dry yeast

1 cup warm water

Set the yeast working with some of the warm water and sugar. When frothy, add to the flour which has been sifted with the salt.

Add the remaining water and mix to a dough with a wooden spoon, until all ingredients are thoroughly blended. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and leave to rise. Punch down, knead lightly, and place in a round layer cake pan, about 8 inches in diameter. Haidd is a round hearth loaf. Bake at 400º for 25 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when the underside is tapped."

I'm guessing this recipe would make for a fairly dense loaf.

Haidd (pronounced highth) is the Welsh word for barley. Barley bread would be called bara haidd.

Let me know how you get on if you do give it a go.



sojourner's picture

Gary, as you mentioned barley bread/bara haidd, I wonder whether you have any recipes you can share for bara brith? If you think it's off-topic, perhaps you can let me know so that I can find another medium. Thanks,



GaryJ's picture

Hi Sojourner,

More than happy to share a couple of bara brith recipes with you...

Bara brith (which translates as speckled bread) comes in two distinct varieties;  traditional bara brith, which is a yeasted bread speckled with dried fruit, and, also, a richer, more cake-like, version. Both are delicious and well worth making.

This first recipe is for the richer version of bara brith. This is my father's recipe. I grew up eating this so am very fond of this version.


Bara brith

450g dried mixed fruit (400g if using mixed candied  peel)

150ml of strong hot tea

110g sugar

250g self-raising flour

1 egg

2 tablespoons of marmalade OR 50g of chopped mixed candied peel

2 teaspoons of ground mixed spice

2 tablespoons of milk

Soak the dried fruit in the hot tea, sweetened with half of the sugar, for a minimum of six hours, preferably overnight.

Combine all of the ingredients, mix well. Spoon into a greased 2lb loaf tin and cook in a preheated oven at 170ºC for 30 minutes, cover with foil to stop the top burning and cook for a further 45 minutes or until a skewer poked in to the loaf comes out clean.

Allow to stand in the tin for 5 minutes. Then remove to a rack to cool. If you can resist, this kind of bara brith improves if left for 24 hours or so, wrapped in foil, before eating. This loaf will keep for weeks if wrapped in foil, so it is worth making two or three at a time.


Next up is the more bread-like traditional version...


This recipe is taken from 'Welsh Country Cookery' by Bobby Freeman (Y Lolfa, 1998)

"Bara brith

450g wholemeal flour

1 teaspoon dried yeast

50g molasses sugar

75g butter

150ml milk

75g seedless raisins

75g currants

25g candied peel

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon mixed spice

Add the spice to the flour and make as for bread, cutting the butter up and melting in the warmed milk for the dough. Work the sugar and fruit into the dough at the second kneading. Bake in a 3pt. loaf tin 20-30mins, in a hot oven (425ºF, Gas 7, 220ºc), covering the top with paper for the final 10 mins. Leave to cool a little before turning out. Brush top with sugar syrup to glaze."

I like to make this using 50% strong white bread flour and 50% wholemeal. Makes for a lighter loaf. If I haven't got a loaf tin to hand I shape the loaf as a boule. I also tend to put a little more mixed spice in mine. Honey also makes a good glaze. 

Tea-soaked fruit is now synonymous with bara brith so you can, if you wish, substitute some of the the milk for tea. Soak the fruit overnight in 150 ml of hot tea. Drain the tea from the fruit into a jug then add lukewarm milk as necessary to make the liquid quantity back up to 150ml.


Both versions of bara brith are best enjoyed with lots of butter and a strong cup of tea.




Mebake's picture

Although I have yet to try this receipt myself, but here what i have in mind:

3 cups of Whole wheat flour (All Purpose if your Barley has lots of bran)

3 Cups of Barley Flour

1.5 tsp of Yeast

1.4 Tsp of Salt

Water, and some honey of you want

Now for the important part: You have to knead the dough you make out of Whole wheat under some running cold water. This will lead to a stickier dough, hence more gluten. (Don't Knead alot though). You can then add yeast to it and let it ferment overnight (use it as your pre-ferment). when the pre-ferment start to smell like vinigar/yeasy add it to the remaining barley flour and salt and honey.

The final dough should be stickey, and you have to seek to make it hydrated enough. (Sticky doughs prefer hydration). leeve it to proof once or twice, and then shape it in a greased whatever and bake it in a humidifyed oven for 35 minutes. Voila!

Happy Baking!


janij's picture

I will try one of these and let you know.  I am just trying to decide what to do with all the barley.

maurdel's picture

I always add barley (at least some) to all my breads. I have found it makes a healthy starter- the yeast seems to like it. I make my regular loaf almost 1/3 barley, about a third whole wheat and a third bread flour. It makes a great loaf.  Starts out a little sticky but really works out nice.

I've found all breads to be tastier w/ some barley and it smells wonderful as it bakes. I suspect it is a professional baker's secret.

I've read that barley is the healthiest grain. Lowest grain on the glycemic index. I thought that it did have a little gluten but not enough. As I said, I have very successfully used up to 1/3 barley in a loaf. 

It's great stuff, dive in.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Thirty minutes into the final proof, my loaf ripped itself apart.  It had survived an 90 minute bulk rise and was supposed to have a 1 1/2 to 2 hour rise with instant yeast.  Room temp 25°C.  The flour was fresh ground from last years berries.  I threw it into the oven as fast as I could hoping to save it.


sojourner's picture

Sara, just wanted to follow up and check with you before I have a go at making your barley cakes, which of the 2 recipes in this thread were you working from? As I want to try and emulate the way you rescued a potential flop and turned it into a success, it'll help to know which one to start from.




hanseata's picture

Farine posted a wonderful barley bread a while ago. I made it several times, grinding the barley myself. Its really nice.

Happy Baking

Isand66's picture

Beautiful looking crust.  I've seen her recipe and it looks great.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

..and with fresh barley!  

PeterS's picture

Barley flour makes good cookies, too :)

hansjoakim's picture

If you're feeling adventurous, I would definitely recommend having a go at making "raspeball" or "komle"! This is a traditional Norwegian (and Scandinavian) potato dumpling that's actually quite easy to put together: Finely shred roughly 700 gr. raw potato and combine with some 300 gr. cooked, cooled and mashed potato. Mix in some 200 gr. barley flour, a few tablespoons worth of bread flour and a teaspoon of salt, until you have a sticky, grey mass. Shape into small, potato-sized rounds using wet hands, and simmer gently in a broth until cooked through (some 30 - 35 mins.). Here in Norway, raspeball is frequently served with salted lamb (either shoulder pieces or rib pieces) and/or salted pork and a puree of rutabaga/swede: Start by simmering the meat in a large pot of water with some aromatic vegetables. Half an hour before the meat is done, carefully lower the potato dumplings into the broth and let them simmer together with the meat until finished. Depending on the type and quality of potato, more flour should sometimes be added to avoid having the dumplings fall apart when lowered into the broth; it's usually a good idea to test a small dumpling in a separate pot of simmering water just to make sure it's not coming apart...

Some additional info on Wikipedia:

Cob's picture

Gosh, I've been dying to make barley bread since I've plundered my way through Elizabeth David's EBYC. She waxes lyrical, and knowing her, it will be damned good.


Apparantly it makes the sweetest bread ever. I'll have to find the recipe for you.