When baking, breaking away from the tried and true to take a chance on something new can be a little intimidating, especially where flours are concerned. Many of us have tried our hands at gluten-free baking only to end up with a loaf better suited to masonry than sandwiches, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Some non-wheat flours – such as barley – are wonderfully adaptive and light with nutrition and flavour to spare. Versatile barley flour is higher in fibre – both soluble and insoluble – and lower in calories than wheat flour, and its rustic nature makes it ideal for breads, muffins, quick breads, bars and cookies, though not so much for a delicate angel food cake.
For Yeast Breads: Because a good rise is key to a great loaf, go half-and-half wheat and barley flour. Barley flour is too low in gluten to provide all the lift we need, so try this recipe for Best Barley Bread.
For Dredging, Frying and Fritters: For a golden crust, season barley flour with salt, pepper, and dried herbs then use it to dredge (coat) fish and meats before frying in canola oil. Try barley flour instead of wheat flour in deep- or shallow-fried fritters and patties, too.
In a Baked Fruit Crisp: Mix barley flour with oats, brown sugar, and butter for a delicious, crunchy, and fiber-rich topping. Use this mix to stuff cored apples for baking, too.
In Homemade Pasta and Dumplings: Fresh pasta – and dumplings – need some gluten to keep them together in the cooking liquid, and since barley flour is lower in gluten than wheaten flour, go half-and-half barley and wheat or semolina flour; adding an egg will also help bind the dough.
Did you know? Minchiareddhi is a traditional pasta from the Puglia region of Italy made with barley and semolina flour.
As a Thickener: Making a roux for a cheese, bechamel, or cream sauce? Use barley flour instead. Try it on your next mac & cheese…with barley pasta, perhaps?
In Cookies, Muffins, Quick Breads, Pancakes and Waffles: Just switch out wheat flour for barely flour, one to one. No need to adjust, and prepare to enjoy a richer, nuttier, healthier result. Try it this weekend! Barley Buttermilk Pancakes.
Tip: Barley flour does contain some gluten, so it’s not the right alternative for folks with celiac disease.
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