August 13, 2015

Sourdough Barley Bread

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Sourdough Barley Bread

I borrowed from our library a German cookbook titled NEW GERMAN COOKING by Jeremy and Jessica Nolen, published in January 2015. I was not planning to cook German food; I was just curious and because I love reading cookbooks. Two recipes caught my eye: Crispy Sauerkraut Fritters and Sourdough Barley Bread. My sauerkraut still needs a week to ferment, so bread it is. I'll make the fritters next week. The store-bought sauerkraut won't do.

It's been a looong time, probably a year, since I baked sourdough based bread. Although I feed my Sarah regularly, sometimes I forget and let her go dormant in the refrigerator for months and months. Fortunately, she is strong and once fed, starts showing activity immediately in less than 4 hours on the kitchen counter. I love her sweet beery aroma too.

The bread takes 2 days to make as the dough has to be refrigerated overnight. The crust is thick which I adore and the crumb is dense, moist, aromatic, nutty, a bit sweet, pleasantly sour, smoky, and chewy. I love it simply with salted butter. The recipe has a sage olive oil topping which I omitted. I might use it next time.

Sourdough Barley Bread

Note on the sourdough starter: The book didn't specify if it's the wet or the stiff kind. I keep mine somewhat wet and I adjusted by adding only half of the remaining water to the sourdough starter. I didn't use the rest of the water.

Sourdough Barley Bread

Sourdough Barley Bread
adapted from NEW GERMAN COOKING by Jeremy and Jessica Nolen

sponge
90 grams medium rye flour
15 grams instant yeast
1 gram kosher salt
120 grams 100°F water

dough
200 grams pearl barley
655 grams water
225 grams sourdough starter
15 grams fresh yeast (I used 2 teaspoons instant yeast)
20 grams fine raw sugar
20 grams kosher salt

topping
120 ml olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • Make the sponge: Combine ingredients in a small bowl until all the flour is moistened. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the kitchen counter for 2 hours. 
  • While rye sponge is fermenting, prepare barley. Spread barley in a sheet pan and toast in a preheated 375° F oven for 15 minutes until golden brown. Transfer into a medium saucepan, add 470 grams water, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook until all of the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Pour the cooked barley on the sheet pan and let cool completely. 
  • Prepare the dough: In a large bowl, combine rye sponge, sourdough, cooked barley, yeast, sugar, salt, and the remaining water. Mix together using a wooden spoon until a soft ball of dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rest in a warm place for 1½ hours. Every 30 minutes, stretch the dough from all sides and fold towards the middle. Flip the dough and tuck in the folds and form into a ball each time. Divide dough in half. Shape each into a ball and place in a lightly greased half sheet pan 5 inches apart, or use 2 smaller sheet pans, Cover with plastic film and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove dough from refrigerator. 
  • Preheat oven to 450° F. 
  • Make the topping: In a small bowl, mix together ingredients until well combined; divide in half and spread evenly on top of each dough. Bake for 15 minutes then lower heat to 400° F and continue baking for another 10 minutes until loaves are dark golden brown. Transfer loaves on a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing. Wrap leftovers with plastic film and serve at room temperature. It will keep fresh on the kitchen counter up to 3 days.

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