The quest for a bread containing barley began when I impulsively bought a 5 lb bag of barley flour at the store, telling myself, “Of course you will use it.” But, the bag of barley flour sat untouched and unused for a week and then a month and then two months. Recently, I finally decided that it was time that I put it to use and explore the qualities of baking with barley flour.
Barley or Hordeum vulgare is a member of the grass family Poaceae. It is used most commonly in animal feed, but it also an important ingredient in beer, whiskey, and many health foods. Barley is originally from Ethiopia and the southeastern regions of Asia. Both the Greek and Roman cultures highly valued barley for its use in bread making and as an essential food for athletes. Indeed, Gladiators were called hordearii, which translates as “eaters of barley.” In the Middle Ages, many breads were made from a combination of barley and rye due to the scarcity and expense of wheat.
Icelandic Fields of Barley