Adventures in whole-grains at Oregon State – barley breads

What barley foods can do for you…

They can keep you satisfied with outstanding flavor as well as keep you healthy and regular, as our whole-grain experiments in fine food here at Oregon State University are showing us.

Sourdough barley boules: 50% of the flour is barley in the style of a light rye via Michel Suas’ “Advanced Bread and Pastry

Barley baguettes made with a yeasted biga – again 50% of the flour is wholegrain barley and of that 10 to 25% [depending on the day] is our own “Wintwax” winter-habit hulled waxy variety. The rest is our beautiful mutli-colored hull-less winter food barley, also milled as a whole-grain on our stone-mills. Both varieties were bred here at Oregon State University by the denizens of Oregon State University’s BARLEYWORLD. The lack of AMYLOSE in the waxy barley flour gives an outstanding softness and moistness to the crumb. Too much though leaves the bread too soft to support itself: we need that retrograded amylose network. Too much waxy starch also reduces the flavor formation in the crust: clearly messing with the water activity too.

Off to make a “Willamette Valley Sourdough Barley” the autolyse is ready to mix.

Poolish barley baguettes soon as well as great 100 % whole-grain breads made from wheat varieties bred and grown in Oregon by the Oregon State University wheat breeding team, the hard red winter wheat Norwest553 primarily,  and of course wholegrain barley bread by the Oregon State University barley breeding team.

My favorite food – bread

Great discussion of the bread-making process by award winning, erudite, and articulate baker Craig Ponsford. Craig is a past chairman of the board of  the Bread Bakers Guild of America and won the French and Specialty Breads category in the 1996 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in France, the win helping to energize the artisan bread movement in the USA. Craig is incredibly generous of spirit as I have luckily come to know over the last year.

[Tom McMahon was the founder of the BBGA]

CRAIG’S “OBSESSIVES” VIDEO at Chow: a beautifully straight-forward exposé of the craft

Craig just opened a new place in San Rafael CA. PONSFORD’S PLACE. It’s worth visiting the website, but if you’re in the area visit the bakery.

You can also see Criag in action at making a whole-wheat ciabatta [formulation here].

On the theme of community grains keep your eyes out for the Kneading Conference West in the state of Washington September 2011, where if plans go right I will be presenting on formulating barley flour into hand-crafted breads. This is a new extension of the well regarded Kneading Conference in Maine. The barely work is part of our push to reintroduce barley as a mainstream food. The major partner in this is our barley breeding program led by Pat Hayes.

Other proponents of barley as food can be found at…


Both sites have info and recipes to help make barley a part of your day.

Why would you. Well apart from great taste it’s good for you.


Rubbery and unstable – How I feel today

A link to Prof. David Weitz’ words on the glassy and stable state. to quote him “A glass is permanent, but only over a certain time scale. It’s a liquid that just stopped moving, stopped flowing…”

Here is a link to the original letter in “Nature”

Nature 462, 83-86 (5 November 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08457; Received 30 April 2009; Accepted 21 August 2009

Soft colloids make strong glasses Johan Mattsson, Hans M. Wyss, Alberto Fernandez-Nieves1, Kunimasa Miyazaki, Zhibing Hu, David R. Reichman & David A. Weitz

Asleep at the wheel

How did I miss this series?

Thanks to Martin Lersch at Khymos for being on the ball and posting about this very interesting series from the Harvard School of Engineering and  Applied Sciences and introduced by Prof. David Weitz the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics.

Here is the YouTube link “Science and Cooking”

It will take a lot of viewing, around 24 hours if you watch every minute of the whole series.