If you want to bake a medieval style bread then this barley bread recipe might be just what you are looking for. Modern day bakers tend to use little barley in their baking. They choose wheat more than any other cereal. However, in recent years, bread makers have become more adventurous offering options of rye or multi-grain and seeded bread.
If we look at barley as a cereal, it is not as popular today as it used to be. In medieval times, barley was commonly used in baking and barley bread was really popular.In fact, when you look into the history of bread making, the cereal was actually used long before that. Historians believe that barley bread was made in Britain as far back as the Iron Age. How far back is that? About 3,000 years ago (to 1,000 BC). That is a lot of history in support of a little cereal!
What Makes Barley Bread Special
What I particularly like about this barley bread recipe is the combination of the cereal with honey and ale. The bread that you get as a result of this has a wonderfully, earthy smell and taste which comes from the barley and the ale.
Baking barley bread reminds me of my childhood. My grandmother always baked her own bread and she often used ale as an ingredient. In particular, she liked to use Yorkshire Ale. She was Yorkshire born and bred and it was a traditional recipe passed down to her from previous generations. Sometimes, for a special occasion such as Christmas, she would add some chopped walnuts to her bread recipe. However, it was the ale that gave her bread the most distinctive of flavours!
Click here to read more about the drinking and culinary use of ale in medieval times.
|1 loaf||20 minutes|
|Cook Time||Passive Time|
|20 minutes||60 minutes|
This type of barley bread was popular amongst medieval monks. They knew that barley was a good source of sustenance and many monks brewed ale. It was a key ingredient in good medieval bread making. Some monasteries also had their own apiary, so honey was readily available.
- 8 ounces barley flour
- 1 lb strong wholemeal flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 ounce fresh yeast
- 2 teaspoons clear honey
- 1/3 cup brown ale
- 2 cups warm water
- Mix the flour and salt together.
- Blend the yeast with a little of the ale to create a creamy paste, then mix into this the rest of the ale, honey and 1.5 cups of the warm water.
- Add this liquid mixture into the flour and salt until you have a firm dough. NOTE: You may need to add a little extra water to get the right consistency.
- Shape the dough into a ball, leave in the bowl and cover with clingfilm. Place the bowl of dough in a warm area of the kitchen and wait until the dough has risen to about twice its original size.
- Remove the clingfilm, press the dough down firmly and split into 2 halves.
- Place each half of the dough in a bread or cake tin (depending upon the shape of loaf you want to bake). Cover each tin with a cloth and set to one side to allow the dough to rise further.
- Bake in a preheated oven (230 degrees Celcius) for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and turn out the loaves onto a wire rack. Leave until cold before cutting and serving.
Barley flour can be difficult to find. I order mine from a local wholefoods supplier.
Barley bread recipe by Shelagh Caudle