By: Carol Harrison, food and nutrition consultant and registered dietitian from Toronto. You can follow Carol on Twitter @GreatMealIdeas.
Barley flour seems to be the ‘modern baking’ ingredient, and I’m always up to speed on new baking trends! However I must admit, up until a few months ago, barley flour was not on my radar. After hearing you can replace at least half the white flour in baking with fibre-rich barley flour, I had to try it out.
I had three days of vacation and with this cool summer we’ve had in Ontario, I don’t mind turning on the oven and baking. Here’s what I tried and how it worked.
Day 1: A bit brave perhaps for my first time using barley flour, I tried barley pancakes with my daughter and her pals at a sleepover.
I found the barley flour smooth and soft: a definite plus for kids who balk at grainy textures. The barley flour incorporates easily into the wet ingredients, just like all-purpose flour. There’s nothing tricky about using it.
The pancakes turned out smooth, moist, fluffy and golden brown. The taste? Slightly nutty—more like a whole-grain pancake.
And sure enough, the smell of pancakes and bacon brought the girls out of the basement all sleepy-eyed and still in their jammies. Were the pancakes a hit?
One word: HOOVER.
Tip: To keep pancakes fluffy, don’t over-mix the batter.
Day 2: I decided to get bold and try the Yogurt Barley Fruit Scones. Typically, scones are made with a hefty amount of butter that is worked into white flour by rubbing it with your fingertips.
This recipe is much easier: just stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. And it’s healthier, too. Using barley flour triples the fibre content! And the Greek yogurt makes for a moist, lower-fat scone with almost as much protein (5 g) as one egg (6 g).
Spread some peanut butter on the scone for added hunger-curbing protein and you have an energizing start to the day!
Tip: You can freeze scones for two to three months.
Day 3: After having success for two days, I tried the ultimate test: Barley Herb Loaf. If bread can be filled with fibre and still have the warm doughy texture and taste, then I’m sold. Although this recipe needs a little more attention to detail and an extra bit of love, it only took 40 minutes to bake. The nutty herb fragrance filled my home with comfort. It’s texture is still fluffy and light— but filled with additional substance. I am officially a true believer in baking with barley.
Tip: Barley flour holds a lot of moisture, so you may find you need to add a little more liquid to your dough.
Barley flour 101
While you may find barley flour in grocery stores next to the wheat flour, bulk stores may be your best bet.
Sniff before you buy. An off odour means the flour has gone rancid.
Because the shelf life of barley flour is shorter than all-purpose flour, only buy what you think you’ll need for a few months.
Date and store it the fridge/freezer. Use within a few months.
Use barley flour to replace half to all the white flour in muffins, pancakes, quick breads, cookies and waffles.
For best results with yeast breads and pizza crusts, only swap a quarter to a half of the total flour with barley flour.
Go ahead and “fibre up” your baking with versatile barley flour—and when you do, let me know how it goes.