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.

      Moreish mushroom bread pudding recipe

       

      I’d like to introduce you to this gorgeously moreish mushroom bread pudding recipe. It combines mushrooms – luxuriously delicious and earthy in their own right – with a velvety and creamy bread pudding base. The perfect comfort food, it’s also a great way to reduce wastage of leftover or stale bread.

      Mushroom bread pudding
      Mushroom bread pudding

      This savoury bread pudding recipe makes a scrumptious side dish (serve with roast chicken for example) but also works perfectly well as a mid-week lunch or dinner, ideally with a sharp salad on the side.

      A few words on choosing your mushroom bread pudding ingredients…

      The mushrooms

      Choose your mushrooms well! They will lend the bread pudding their distinctive flavour. Go for white or brown button mushrooms if you can’t get your hands on other varieties with a more unique taste, but if available, try to at least mix in some porcini or shiitake mushrooms. Go and harvest your own wild mushrooms if you can and make them the main event of the bread pudding!

      Mixed mushrooms
      Mixed mushrooms

      “Mushrooms don’t have any chlorophyll, so are unable to harvest energy from sunlight, which means they have to do all their growing underground, feeding on whatever they find. So, mushrooms that grow under chestnut trees taste of chestnuts and soil. Mushrooms that grow under pine trees taste of pines and soil.Yotam Ottolenghi, The Guardian

      Mushrooms have also received a lot of press coverage of late for their health properties and if you’d like to read more about this, take a look at this article for a short overview or watch this video for a fascinating interview with mycologist Joe Rogan.

      The bread

      Lots of bread puddings use brioche or challah as the bread base. However, for this savoury mushroom bread pudding, I prefer the earthy flavours of sourdough bread containing rye flour e.g. pain de champagne.

      The cheese

      You can use cheddar cheese as your base cheese, but I like to at least mix in some other flavours e.g. Gruyère or Parmesan. Your cheese choice (same as your mushroom and bread choices) will have a big impact on the bread pudding’s flavour.

      Mushroom bread pudding recipe

      If you’ve only ever made sweet bread puddings, there’s no better time to try a savoury one. Warning: this is not for the faint-hearted (i.e. people on a diet), take a look at the ingredient list to find out why 🙂

      Mushroom bread pudding recipe
      Mushroom bread pudding recipe
      Mushroom bread pudding
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      Mushroom Bread Pudding Recipe

      Combine the best and most flavoursome ingredients you can find and bake this mushroom bread pudding recipe to perfection - with a crisp surface and melting interior. Choose a deeper casserole dish for a more tender pudding, a shallower dish if you like to have more of the crusty top layer. 

      Ingredients

      Ingredients

      • 300 g fresh bread cubes, ideally sourdough rye bread cut into 5 mm cubes
      • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
      • 1 onion chopped
      • 450 g mixed fresh mushrooms trimmed and cut into 1 cm cubes
      • 2 large garlic cloves minced
      • 5 tbsp white wine
      • 1 small bunch of parsley (or other herbs, whatever flavour you prefer)
      • 125 g milk
      • 100 g creme fraiche
      • 90 g single cream
      • 2 large eggs
      • 50 g Parmesan cheese grated
      • Salt
      • Freshly ground pepper

      Instructions

      How to make mushroom bread pudding

      1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
      2. Toast bread cubes in in a large shallow baking pan until golden-brown, about 10 minutes.

      3. Heat the butter in a medium-large frying pan. Add the chopped onion and fry over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften.
        Add the chopped mushrooms, minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly milled pepper. Continue to fry and stir until the liquid the mushrooms give off has evaporated (about 15 minutes). 
        Add the white wine and parsley and continue to fry and stir for another few minutes. 
        Check the seasoning and remove from the heat.

      4. In a medium-large bowl, combine the milk, creme fraiche, single cream, eggs and grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly milled pepper. 
        Whisk together well. 
        Stir in the toasted bread cubes and the mushroom mixture until coated well and let stand for 10 minutes to allow the bread to absorb some of the cream and egg mixture.

      5. Butter the baking dish. I used a square dish (20 x 20 cm), about 8 cm deep.

      6. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until nicely browned on top. Please note that the baking time will depend on the depth of the baking dish you have chosen.