100% Barley Bread

LeadDog's picture

I used a little bit of my wheat sourdough starter to get my barley starter going because it is easier to do that than make a starter from scratch.  I feed through a couple of days so that the starter was basically 100% barley.  The hydration of the barley starter was between 60% to 70%.

Barley handles mostly like rye so I made the loaf like I would make a rye bread.  The dough felt like the clay that you would use to make pottery and never feels like a wheat dough.

The Dough

Ingredient Metric Imperial Baker's Percentage
Barley Flour 526 grams 18.57 oz 100.00%
Water 358 grams 12.64 oz 68.06%
Salt 11 grams 0.39 oz 2.09%
Sourdough Barley Preferment 68% hydration 105 grams 3.71 oz 19.96%
Total Flour Weight:
526 grams

Percentages are relative to flour weight (flour equals 100%) and every other ingredient is a percentage of this. Flour from the starter is not counted. This recipe was originally in grams and has been automatically converted to other measures.


Mix all the ingredients together adding the salt last.  The dough feels like a wet clay.  I placed the dough in a oiled bowl and let it ferment about an hour.  I then shaped the dough and place it into a brotform for about 10 minutes.

This was done just to get impression of the basket on the dough,  The dough was then turned out on to a parchment sheet and covered to finish fermenting.  I really didn't know what to expect but was hoping that cracks would develop like a rye bread indicating it was ready to bake.  The cracks did appear so I heated the oven up to 460°F and placed the bread on the stone covered with a large roasting pan.  The roasting pan was removed after 30 minutes and the loaf was cooked another 15 minutes.  I ate a slice of the bread after it had cooled for 2 hours and before I was done I was wanting another slice.  I was only able to resist the urge for a second slice for 5 minutes.  The crust is a bit thicker than a wheat bread and kind cookie like in texture.  The crumb isn't very open and was like a rye loaf in texture.  It is a good bread and people liked it.  Next time I make  I might try adding a little bit more water to see what it will do.

409 users have voted.


jem 2010 September 15

Hey this is really nice to see. I have wondered about barley bread before.

My mum makes a kind of finnish barley bread called "ohrarieska" but I am yet to try it

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 September 15

 manicbovine I didn't taste the starter so I don't know.  I also haven't taste a wheat or rye starter.

Jem that looks like an interesting bread, maybe it can be made with sourdough?

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 September 16

 manicbovine this is a recipes for 100% Barley bread for people who are allergic to wheat.  I have not tried to find out if different starters will make a bread taste different.

JohnD's picture
JohnD 2010 October 26

good stuff dawg...looks really edible!...would make a great bannock. Which barley flour did you use?

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 October 26

 You know it was edible and I'm sure I could live on it if I had to.  I had to google bannock because I had no idea what you were talking about.  The barley flour is home milled and the sifted to about 95% extraction and I got the grain from http://www.josephsgrainery.com .

JohnD's picture
JohnD 2010 October 26

Thanks, Bannock is the traditional way to make a barley bread in Britain, but its very ancient. throughout the world...it means you dont have to worry about a conventional bread aesthetic, that is height and architecture...so means its easier to make a barley bread as a "flatbread" which is how bread was mostly made in the past..an example is the Bere bannock of the Orkneys, still made from the unusual "bere" barley. I agree, barley bread is very nice. Sometimes, a proportion or toasted barley is added which really improves the flavour....roast the whole grains until lightly coloured and pleasantly smelling...cool it and grind...mix in as 25% of flour.

best John 

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 October 26

 Hey John do you have a sourdough recipe or guidelines for making Bannock?  Or was it unleavened?  I would like to give it a try.  I'll try some toasted barley next time I make Barley bread.  Thanks for the tips.

Mariah 2011 January 9

I thought the bannock was a cowboy bread. You know where they wrap the dough around a stick and hold it over the fire turning slowly so it cooks. i bought some barley flour today and can't wait to use it. I love my barley malt powder and syrup, the taste and color. I think I will try a flat bread first.


sparky's picture
sparky 2011 January 9

First post here, but been a lurker & sourdough slave for a while. Hello!

Bannock is traditionally leavened with bicarb soda. I have a couple of recipes in 'The Scots Kitchen' (First printed 1929, reprinted 1947) that I inherited from my mother. This is the 'modern' method - the 'old' method does not use bicarb.

Mix a pound of barley meal with 4 ounces of flour & 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Put 3 cupfuls of buttermilk into a jug and stir in 2 teaspoons of bicarb. Stir as it fizzes and mix into the flours.

Make a soft dough and handling as little as possible, shape into rounds 1/2 inch thick and bake on a girdle(a flat hotplate).


Umm. Don't forget to stir the liquids in 'Deiseal' or clockwise. The other way (widdershins) is unlucky:-)

palmydays 2014 January 21

Hi, I am in the UK and the ingredient "Sourdough Barley Preferment 68% hydration" does not mean anything to me, please could you give me some idea of what it is.



farinam's picture
farinam 2014 January 21

Hello palmydays,

Basically this is a sourdough made with barley flour.  As LeadDog said, he started with his wheat starter and converted it to barley flour over a period of time I would guess by feeding it with progressively greater proportions of barley flour.

The hydration of a starter (or dough for that matter) is a measure of the ratio of water to flour (by weight) in the mix.  A 100% starter would have equal amounts of flour and water while the 68% starter would have three parts flour to two parts water (about).

Pre-ferment is often used to indicate an amount of starter that has been prepared to make a loaf by feeding in the last several to 24 hours to ensure that it is properly active before preparing the dough.

Hope this helps.


palmydays 2014 January 21

Thanks Farinam,

It make a bit more sense now. The thing I need to find out now is how would I start making a barley only starter? I see form some other posts I could use even quantites of flour & water in a bowl but are there some things to watch out for & how do you proseed with the feeding but?? As you can tell I've never done this before!! :\



LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2014 January 21

You can make a barley starter the same way that you make a wheat starter.  The hydration can also be explained like this, for 100 grams of flour you add 68 grams of water.  That will give you a starter that is 68% hydration.

farinam's picture
farinam 2014 January 22

Hello Dave,

LeadDog was only trying to explain the concept of hydration a bit better than I did.

If you follow SourDom's method but use barley flour instead of wheat (maybe still include the rye) you will eventually get what you are looking for.



LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2014 January 22

I would follow SourDom's method but used 100% barley if that is the starter that you want.  When you get an active starter them you can make the 68% hydration preferment that this method uses to make the bread.

farinam's picture
farinam 2014 January 21

Hi Dave,

If you haven't already, I recommend that you read SourDom's beginners blogs on this site (link at top right of page).  If you follow his technique you will probably not go wrong.  You need to be a bit patient sometimes and whatever you do, don't go off chasing around for 'magic' recipes, all you need is flour and water (and a sprinkling of aforesaid patience).

If you start off using the rye/white wheat flour blend (a reliable and well tried method) until you get the starter going and well balanced and active, then you can convert it to barley (or whatever) by changing the feed to barley (or whatever) flour.

Good luck with your projects.


Jamilah 2016 April 30

Can you just follow the recipe At the top but ommit the sour dough if you want just plain barley bread? 

I wanted to use unhulled barley and just grind it then use it to mix with water and make the dough. Could i then just continue following the recipe? 

Colc's picture
Colc 2015 April 11

This recipe sounds like what I am seeking, could you advise what time was involved in the final ferment?

Geoffrey Levens 2016 October 13

I have been making 100% barley bread lately using flour I grind in Blendtech blender. Seed culture is rye then I make a levain using some of the flour and some of the water from the recipe so basically starter is almost all barley.  In the end about 80% hydration. It feels and handles more like kamut dough, just a little slimier and less extensible than that but still stretchy and very hand foldable! I just do one rise but for a long time.  First get levain bubbling well, then add rest of flour and water, and mix well. Let stand for 30-60 minutes then 8-10 stretch and folds and let sit again and repeat. Total of 3 sets of stretch/fold at 1/2 to 1 hour intervals. On the 3rd one, I shape loaf more or less and put in bread pan (does not hold shape well enough for Dutch oven, much like Kamut). I proof 15-20 hours then bake at 450F for 45 minutes. Flavor is excellent, yes like barely but with sourness from the ferment.

Reason for posting though is that I have seen many state that barley dough handles like rye and that is not at all my experience. Would LOVE TO SEE ANY COMMENTS ON THAT!

Help 2020 April 1
I left my dough out overnight to proof, it was so beer yeasty sour it was inedible. Help please.

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