A day at the office…

My job as a cereal scientist sometimes affords me the joy of a full day of baking, product development, and promotion of our work and the farmers who are putting their money where their mouth is and growing food barley.

In all the products shown below, the flour has a minimum of 10% stone-ground whole barley. The long loaves and the pretzels have 50% wholegrain barley flour and the big sandwich loaves have 50% barley with 35% stone-ground whole-wheat. The remainder is plain baker’s flour.

This was for our successful  “Barley and Friends” field day. {link} held this May 9th.

And good practice for our event at the “Kneading Conference West” in September {link}.

The barley pretzels are, of course, the natural accompaniment to that other barley product, good beer!

Thanks to Jake Mattson of the Oregon State Food Science department for helping to divide, shape, and dip [in 1M NaOH] the 100 pretzels we made!

More whole grains at Oregon State

I’ve been having a work “vacation” – working with Craig Ponsford at the “Ponsford’s Place”  Innovation Center [link] to fine-tune our barley bread formulations.

We uncovered some interesting processing challenges that point to the particle size of the barley flour as being a suspect.

We played with the water because barley has so much great soluble fiber as mixed linkage beta 1-3, 1-4 glucans that it soaks up water like a sponge. These breads had 50% by flour weight whole-milled barley flour and respectively left to right 90% or 100% [flour basis] water. 100% water on this basis is equal weights of flour and water, and still it made bread.

Oregon State University’s “Streaker” hull-less barley going into the mill.

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 http://communitygrains.com/using.html 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.