Low glycemic index bread: barley flour bread recipe

 

Although barley is almost exclusively used in the brewing industry on account of its very low gluten content, barley flour is a really nice ingredient to introduce into bread baking. You’ll have even more reason for using barley if you are looking to keep the glycemic index (GI) of your home-baked bread as low as possible. I’ve been baking with barley flour ever since I came across the delicious barley rusks (used to prepare Dakos) hugely popular on the Greek island of Crete and after lots of research and experimentation I’d like to share my barley flour bread recipe with you.

Dakos
Dakos – If you’d like to make Greek barley rusks at home try this recipe which uses 44% barley flour… https://akispetretzikis.com/categories/snak-santoyits/kritharokoyloyres

 

Firstly though, I want to give you some background on barley flour and the glycemic index GI/ glycemic load GL values of different types of grains.

Barley flour bread is low GI bread

I’ve recently looked into low glycemic bread options as I’ve had to ensure my blood sugar levels were as stable as possible throughout the day for health reasons connected to my pregnancy. Out of all the grains, barley seems to come out on top. It contains a soluble fiber called beta-glucan which has been shown to slow glucose absorption and thought to help lower blood cholesterol.

The table below shows (reasonably) comprehensive information comparing the GI and GL of different grains, flours and one specific brand of bread. Data source: http://www.diogenes-eu.org/GI-Database/Default.htm

“The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels. Glycemic Load (or GL) combines both the quantity and quality of carbohydrates.  It is also the best way to compare blood glucose values of different types and amounts of foods. The formula for calculating the GL of a particular food or meal is: Glycemic Load = GI x Carbohydrate (g) content per portion ÷ 100.Source: https://www.gisymbol.com/

The Glycemic Index Foundation suggests that a GI of 45 or less is classified as low GI. For GL, 10 or less qualifies as low GL.

From the table below, we can see that only barley is low GI and none of the grains or flours listed qualify as low GL. Nonetheless, barley scores well.

Food nameGI valueGL
Pearl barley raw2521
Vogel’s sunflower and barley brown bread4016
Porridge Oats5820
Crispbread rye6445
Bran wheat7019
Wheatgerm7031
Rye bread7032
Wheat flour wholemeal7045
Wheat flour brown7048
Wheat flour white for breadmaking7053
Rye flour  whole7053
Wheat flour white plain7054

My barley bread recipe has taken inspiration from the above-mentioned Vogel’s sunflower and barley brown bread, incorporating both wheat and barley flours as well as sunflower seeds.

Barley flour bread recipe (sourdough barley bread)

Opt for barley bread if you are looking for a hearty addition to a low-GI diet. 

Barley flour bread recipe
Barley flour bread recipe

It is best to use barley flour in conjunction with high-gluten flour. My barley flour recipe uses 50% barley flour and 50% wholewheat flour to ensure the bread rises better. By adding at least 50% wheat flour benefits the crumb. In the interest of flavour and extensibility, I wouldn’t recommend to increase the % of barley flour. The higher the percentage of barley in relation to wheat, the less extensible the dough. I increased the dough hydration as well in order to account for the higher water absorption of the flours.

Barley flour bread low glycemic
Barley flour bread – low glycemic index bread
Barley bread recipe
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Barley flour bread recipe

Barley flour adds a pronounced sweetness and a suggestion of maltiness to this loaf. This is even more pronounced due to the added barley flake soaker. Add in some pre-boiled barley kernels to make a coarser type of barley bread if you wish.

Servings 8

Ingredients

Ingredients

    Sourdough Ingredients

    • 100 g wheat sourdough starter 100% hydration
    • 50 g wholewheat flour
    • 50 g water lukewarm
    • Barley Flake & Sunflower Seed Soaker Ingredients
    • 50 g barley flakes
    • 50 g sunflower seeds
    • 100 g hot water

    Main Dough Ingredients

    • 250 g wholewheat flour
    • 250 g barley flour
    • 10 g salt
    • 320 g water lukewarm
    • 100 g natural yoghurt

    Toppings

    • 1 handful of sunflower seeds
    • 1 handful of barley flakes

    Instructions

    How to make barley flour sourdough bread

      Day 1  - Refresh your sourdough starter & prepare the soaker

      1. In a medium bowl, combine all the sourdough ingredients, cover with a lid and keep at room temperature until the next day.

      2. Toast the barley flakes and sunflower seeds in a frying pan (no oil) to release the nutty flavours, then take off the heat, add the boiling water and cover immediately. Set aside at room temperature.

      Day 2 (about 24 hours later) - Prepare the main dough, proof & bake

      1. Combine 100g of the refreshed sourdough (the rest goes back into the fridge for future bakes) with all the remaining ingredients (the soaker you prepared the day before and all of the main dough ingredients) and knead for about 10 mins. The dough will be sticky yet pliable.

      2. Leave the dough to rest for about an hour.

      3. Oil a bread baking tin and distribute a handful of sunflower seeds across the bottom of the tin, covering the surface evenly.

      4. Transfer the dough into the oiled and seeded bread baking tin, evenly distribute the barley flakes across the top of the dough and cover with a lid or a polythene bag to keep the moisture in.

      5. Rest until fully proofed (this takes a good 4 hours in my cool kitchen) and preheat the oven to 220°C in time.

      6. Bake at 220°C for 10 mins, and at 200°C for a further 40 mins.
      7. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

      Buttermilk sourdough bread recipe

       

      Just a quick post to share my newly developed buttermilk bread recipe with you. I had a purposeless tub of buttermilk sitting in the fridge and didn’t really fancy baking any of the usual options like scones or soda bread. So, I decided to make a buttermilk-based sourdough loaf, using predominantly white bread flour, but providing depth of flavour and taste by adding dark wholemeal rye flour. The resulting loaf tasted delicious (and has been baked five times since), so do give this a try if you like the sound of a buttermilk sourdough bread.

      Buttermilk sourdough bread
      Buttermilk sourdough bread

      Buttermilk is traditionally a by-product of butter-making – the liquid that is left over after butter is churned from cream. However, what we find in supermarkets nowadays is often made by adding an active bacterial culture to skimmed milk. These cultures convert some of the sugar in the milk (the lactose) into lactic acid which causes the milk to thicken. When used in bread making, buttermilk adds a pleasing tang and tartness and makes the crumb more tender. You’ll also find that the dough has a soft and creamy quality while kneading.

      I always use organic ingredients for cooking and baking and although it is not readily available in supermarkets, organic buttermilk can be found in the UK. Daylesford Farm offers the real deal. Creamy and tangy organic buttermilk, made in the traditional way as a byproduct of the butter they produce.

      Buttermilk sourdough bread recipe

      I used only a small proportion of dark rye flour in my recipe as buttermilk tends to work best with mild flours in order for the tangy flavours to come through and the crumb to remain soft. Add herbs or spices to this buttermilk sourdough bread to play with different flavour combinations.

      Buttermilk bread
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      Buttermilk sourdough bread recipe

      An easy recipe for a wholesome loaf of sourdough bread. I love using buttermilk in sweet baking and it's a beautiful ingredient for sourdough loaves too.

      Servings 8 people

      Ingredients

      Sourdough ingredients

      Main dough ingredients

      • 450 g strong white wheat flour
      • 100 g wholemeal rye flour
      • 300 g buttermilk at room temperature
      • 120 g water
      • 12 g salt

      Instructions

      How to make buttermilk sourdough bread

      1. On day 1, prepare the sourdough by combining the sourdough starter, wholemeal rye flour and water in a medium bowl. Mix well, then cover and leave to rest for 16 -24 hours at room temperature.

      2. On day 2, once the sourdough starter is ready, combine 260g of the refreshed sourdough (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake), the strong white wheat flour and wholemeal rye flour, the buttermilk (ideally at room temperature), the water and salt in a large bowl.

      3. Combine to form a dough, then turn it out onto your work surface.

      4. Knead for 10 minutes.

      5. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

      6. Turn out the dough and knead for 1 minute.

      7. Place back into the bowl again, cover and leave to rest for a further 30 minutes.

      8. Turn out the dough and shape into a boule.

      9. Bathe the boule in a flour bath so it's no longer sticky on the outside, then place seam-side up into a pre-floured proofing basket.

      10. Proof for several hours until risen - it takes about 3 hours in my kitchen but as always the proofing time depends very much on the temperature in your room so it might take a little shorter or longer - then preheat the oven to 200°C, and - if using - your baking dome at the same time.

      11. Turn out the fully proofed loaf onto the preheated baking dome plate (if using) or a baking tray lined with baking paper. 

      12. Make several decorative slashes with a scoring knife. Put the cover on the baking dome plate (if using).

      13. Bake for 15 mins at 200°C, then turn the temperature down to 180°C and bake for a further 40 mins. Take off the baking dome cover for the last 10 minutes to finish the crust.

      14. Cool on a wire rack.