photo of grain mill, with flour pouring out, and the words Operation Use My Grain Mill

As I explained a couple of weeks ago, I’m working to make better use of my grain mill in an occasional series inspired by Trish of Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity called Operation Use My Grain Mill.

The first grain (besides wheat) I played with in my grain mill is barley. I didn’t find a barley bread recipe that interested me, so I took this advice from Flour Power by Marleeta F. Basey:

Although it makes poor yeasted bread by itself, about 25 percent barley flour added to wheat bread provides variety. p. 154

I modified my Golden Sunshine bread slightly to include some barley with great results. I’ll put the recipe below.

While playing with barley, though, I kept thinking about barley cakes. I think in every romance set in Scotland, some matronly character will pack barley cakes for the hero for a journey. Somewhere on that journey, he will have occasion to share those barley cakes with the heroine.

Recipes for barley cakes and barley bread

Barley flour on the left and oat flour on the right.

So, I wanted to make barley cakes. According to CeltNet Recipes, oat and barley milk cakes are a modern reconstruction of an ancient recipe, from back in the pre-history period of humans. The instructions are not terribly detailed but I found they came together like biscuits, so I relied on my previous experiences with them when I wasn’t certain what to do.

The recipe made more than I expected — a couple dozen or more cakes. But, they were travel food, after all, so I assume they keep. I wrapped them up in groups of three or four and froze the excess.

Recipes for barley cakes and barley bread

Cooking barley cakes in a skillet

Having so much batter allowed me to play with different ways of cooking them. I’ve confessed before that I’m the world’s worst fry cook. The instructions have you prepare them as griddle cakes. Mine turned out okay, but I had an unfortunate tendency to smoke the oil. Plus they take time to cook, with constant monitoring required.

Since the dough reminded me of biscuits, I decided to experiment with baking them. I used the toaster oven so I could try different methods on small batches. What worked the best was baking them in a hot oven, 450 degrees, for half an hour, turning them once in the middle. They browned most evenly if I was careful to flatten them on both sides when I first put them in the baking pan. Obviously, this took much longer than cooking them in a skillet, but the oven did most of the work, so I could go off and do other things while they baked.

The recipe says they’re good with fruit and cheese. I can attest to that. They are also good with jam, honey-sweetened yogurt cheese, or whiskey.

Recipes for barley cakes and Sunny Barley Bread

Barley cakes with half a loaf of Sunny Barley Bread

Bread Machine Sunny Barley Bread
by Joy Weese Moll

1 3/4 cup whey, fat-free milk, or water
1/4 cup cottage cheese
2 Tablespoons sorghum
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, chopped up a little in the food processor
4 ounces freshly-ground barley flour
12 ounces freshly-ground whole wheat flour
1 cup white bread flour
2 tablespoons garbanzo bean flour
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 6 or 8 pieces
2 teaspoons yeast

1. Mix the whey, cottage cheese, sorghum, honey, and salt.

2. Stir together the sunflower seeds, flours, and the butter.

3. Follow bread machine instructions for adding liquid and dry ingredients and the yeast.

4. Bake using the whole wheat bread setting.

new Weekend Cooking logoEnjoy more Weekend Cooking posts today at Beth Fish Reads. She had her skillet out this week, too, to make skillet corn bread.

Signature of Joy Weese Moll


Fun with Barley — 14 Comments

  1. This post expresses the essence of what cooking/baking is all about. Just perfect! I notice that you did not rave about the taste. :<) I remember a song from when my kids were little which was on a Raffi album – "Oats and beans and barley grow" – I've never been wild about barley but I do try to add it to stews sometimes.

    • The barley cakes taste okay, but you’ll notice we mostly added sweet things to them. I think I’ll probably make them when I want biscuits because the whole grains are so much better for me and do provide a more complex texture and flavor.

    • I don’t think gluten really adds anything to these. They are essentially unleavened bread. How about using the oat flour and trying one of the gluten-free grains for the barley? Or even, make them oatcakes and just use gluten-free oats to make oat flour?

  2. I have some barely flour and generally just add a little to bread. I never thought to make my own cakes — Love how you experimented with the cooking method.

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