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Elizabeth David’s Barley Bread Recipe

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Barley Flour is quite an unusual ingredient these days, and you usually see it mixed in with proprietary bread mixes, but if you do happen to find some (I bought mine online), do try this delicious white loaf recipe, full of flavour and delicious texture.

A loaf of barley bread

Elizabeth David introduced me to this delicious recipe via her scholarly work on bread, English Bread and Yeast Cookery. I was prompted to order some barley flour online and give it a try, so great was her recommendation:

“Although, owing to its greyish crumb, barley bread may not look immediately appetising, those who acquire a taste for it are likely to become addicts. I am one.”

Barley Flour Loaf Bread recipe

And so too am I. I will always add barley flour to my simple loaves and even try it in a granary loaf mix now, such is the subtle yet complex flavour it adds to a plain white loaf. It would also work perfectly in my simple sandwich loaf.

The process of making the loaf is exactly the same as my simple white loaf with the exception that it uses a couple of tablespoons of vegan cream or yogurt (I used natural vegan yogurt, plain), this helps enrich the dough and give a finer crumb. It also has a deliciously crisp crust.

If you don’t have barley flour, then I suggest you make my simple loaf instead or try experimenting using other types of flour. You can pick it up in selected stores or online from Waitrose or buy directly (in bulk) from Matthews Cotswold Flour or Shipton Mill. I bought a small bag from Amazon.

What is Barley Flour?

Barley flour is made from dried or “pearled” barley that has been milled very finely. Although nowadays barley is used for brewing beer, or as pearl barley, the flour has a unique, somewhat subtle nutty flavour. It contains less gluten than plain flour, so if you are trying to cut down on your gluten intake, it is worth swapping out some of your plain flour for barley flour in recipes (up to 50%, in fact). To make it worth buying a bag, you could also try my vegan Finnish barley cookie recipe.

A loaf of Barley Bread

Alone, barley flour won’t give much rise, despite containing gluten like wheat flour, so it needs to be combined with a normal flour to make a decent loaf of bread. However, it is used in flatbreads and other quick breads that don’t require much of a rise. It can also be used as a thickener in stew.

Barley flour also serves another purpose in breadmaking. Because it is lower in gluten, it will give you a lighter, tender crumb that 100% plain flour loaves can’t always achieve at home. It is also lower in calories and slightly higher in fibre than plain flour.

Is Barley Flour Gluten-Free?

No, it isn’t. Like wheat, they are both graining grasses that contain gluten.


Ingredients for Barley bread
  • plain white bread flour
  • barley flour
  • yeast
  • salt and sugar
  • water
  • vegan yogurt or cream

This is ONLY a list of ingredients for the recipe; please see recipe card below for complete printable recipe.


barley bread mixing flour

Mix the activated yeast into the flours

Barley bread dough before being kneaded

Mix into a raggy dough

Barley bread dough ball

Knead the dough until it is smooth and you can feel it yielding under your hands

Barley Bread rising

After a couple of hours, the dough should have doubled. Knock it back and knead for a couple more minutes more.

Shaping dough by tucking the edges under

Shape the dough by tucking the edges under and place in your lightly oiled 2lb loaf tin and leave to rise for another 45 mins

Risen dough waiting to be baked

Once the dough has risen and started to fill out the loaf tin, bake in a preheated oven as per directions in the recipe card.

Hint: if you leave the dough for 10-15 minutes before the first knead, this gives the flour time to relax and will be easier to start kneading.


A 2lb loaf tin is the only specialist equipment you need.


This bread lasts quite a while in the bread bin or wrapped up in tinfoil, up to a week. If it seems a bit dry, it might be time to start toasting it!

Once the loaf has cooled completely, double wrap tightly in clingfilm and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, unwrap loaf and place in a low oven until completely thawed.

Easy Barley Bread

A loaf of barley bread
How to make a classic loaf of barley bread
4.45 from 27 votes
Prep 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Rising time 2 hours 45 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes


  • 1 2 litre loaf tin lightly oiled


  • 450 g Plain Flour - strong, white
  • 120 g Barley Flour
  • 1 tsp Instant Yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 10 g Salt
  • 340 ml Water - warm
  • 2 tbsp Yogurt - plain, vegan


  • Sift the flours and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the yeast and sugar to the warm water and leave the yeast to activate for 10 minutes or so.
  • Once the yeast is frothy, add it to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until you have a very raggy dough.
  • Then mix in the yogurt.
  • Lightly flouring your hands, bring the dough into a cohesive ball in the bowl, by gently kneading. This should take a couple of minutes.
  • Now turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes or until the dough feels springy and starts to yield against you kneading it.
  • Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for a couple of hours.
  • The dough should almost double in size. Once it has, knock it back and knead it for a couple of minutes.
  • Tucking the edges of the dough under, place in a lightly oiled 2lb loaf tin and leave to rise for another 45 minutes or so.
  • Preheat oven to 220c and bake the loaf for 15 minutes.
  • Now turn the oven down to 200c and bake for another 15 minutes.
  • Finally, remove the loaf from the tin, turn the oven down to 180c and bake for a final 15 minutes to get a lovely crust on your loaf.
  • Tap the bottom of the loaf to ensure it is baked, it should sound hollow. Then leave to cool completely on a cooling rack until you slice it.

Please note that where the recipe asks for milk, butter or yogurt, this refers to any plant-based version that you prefer.

Nutrition Facts
Easy Barley Bread
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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  1. 5 stars
    I make this bread every week now. So tender inside with a great crust. I do want to experiment with the barley flour ratio, but I’m afraid of hampering a perfect recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this recipe yesterday and it turned out wonderful.
    The crumb was perfect for sandwich bread.
    The only thing I would request of this recipe is that there would be one measurement instead of 3. There are grams, teaspoons and milliliters. The conversion of milliliters threw me off a bit, but I must have gotten it right. I did use heavy whipping cream instead of the yogurt. Going to try this recipe with my sourdough starter. I would recommend this recipe.
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. How would you adjust this to use regular dry active yeast? I live in Ecuador and they don’t sell instant yeast. 😃

    1. I don’t think you need to adjust the quantity of yeast, just the rising time. If you have access to vitamin C powder, I believe that adding a pinch is all that is needed to turn your dried yeast to the quick stuff.

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