Barley Porridge Flaxseed Bread — Tartine No.3

 

50% whole wheat and 50% barley porridge, 77% hydration dough

When you taste this bread, you won’t know that it is made with 50% whole grain. There is no bitterness or coarseness. There is the custard-like texture that makes you think you’re eating moist white bread, but softer. It’s been a challenge to reduce the amount of refined white flour while maintaining the open and tender crumb structure. Cooking the grain, in this case the barley, and folding it in the dough solve all those textural issues. On top of that, the complex flavor and nutritional benefits of making grains more digestible are working in favor of the porridge breads. That’s a game changer; changing the way I make whole-grain bread.

I have made porridge breads from cooked brown rice, farro and oat, now barley, with equally successful results. It opens up a wide range of possibilities. I can practically make breads from any kind of cracked, rolled, or flaked grains I find in the food market. It’s very exciting to find this approach in making whole-grain breads that’s not only tasty good, but also good for my health.

To believe it is to bake it. Barley is one of the oldest grains and generally used to make beer. Barley contains a small amount of gluten and barley flour is not ideal in making open crumb bread. Following this porridge bread recipe from Tartine Book No 3, barley porridge makes up 50% of the total flour weight. Not an insignificant amount. The best way I’ve found to prepare the porridge is by using a rice cooker which takes out most of the moisture and requires less drying time. That’s the short cut as well as a foolproof method to keep the hydration level manageable at 75%-80%. (If you don’t have a rice cooker, prepare porridge by cooking it with 2 parts water and 1 part barley over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, cook until barley is softened, about 15-20 minutes. Be sure the porridge is as dry as possible before folding it in the dough.)

The fact that this bread has 50% of total flour, in both whole wheat and barley porridge, and still manages to achieve the desirable open crumb that it does is stupendous. I break out a happy dance!

 

Barley and flaxseed are cooked in a rice cooker

 

50% barley and 5% flaxseeds

 

 

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