It’s been three months since I started selling Marlais and Dulais loaves from the honesty box and I felt it was time to offer something new. Inspired by the whole-grain, heritage-grain ethos of Tartine Book No3 and coming across the work of Edward Dickin to revive an ancient grain, I started experimenting with naked barley.
Historically barley was the staple flour in bread across Wales, along with rye – these two grains being better suited to our climate and soil. So much so that the Welsh barlys is an amalgamation of bara (bread) and llys (herb or plant, etc): barley was literally the bread-plant.
Cannot any body see, with half an eye, that the word barlys should be wrote baralys or bar’lys
Additional letters of the Morrises of Anglesey (1735-86), ed. H.Owen
I was interested in using naked barley because it doesn’t need to be processed (‘pearled’) in the same way as normal barley so can be used whole, and it requires less fertiliser and water than wheat. Bangor University has a helpful FAQ page that explains its history and health benefits.
Once I’d sourced some naked barley flakes, I did a few test bakes using Tartine’s Barley porridge-Linseed recipe. At 120% hydration it was way wetter than doughs I’m used to. While it tasted great, I’ve reduced the water to 95% to make it more manageable on the worktop.
As well as being wetter than the Marlais and the Dulais, it’s also different because I ferment the baralys dough in the high 20s, and stretch and fold every 30 minutes to help build dough strength and structure. It also gets a slightly longer bulk fermentation and is 25% wholemeal flour, while the Marlais and Dulais rely on a bit of rye to boost flavour.