Sourdough Cretan Barley Rusks

On our recent holiday to Crete we fell in love with the Cretan version of bruschetta called dakos. It’s just tomatoes and feta on a barley rusk, but it’s delicious. Recently Soph found a Greek deli near work that sold the rusks, so we’ve been able to have them at home.

This weekend I’m at a loss for what to do with my wheat starter, so why not try and make my own barley rusks? It’s just a matter of baking bread a second time at a low temperature for a few hours, so all I need to do is find some barley flour…

That’s not as easy as I expected! None of the major supermarkets stock it, not even the posh ones! Some stock Dove’s Farm ‘barleycorn’ but that’s mostly wheat flour with some barley mixed in. I then tried various health food places like Whole Food Markets and Holland and Barrett without luck. Then Indian supermarkets looking for ‘jav atta’ still not finding any. Eventually I traveled to North London (eww!) to Earth Natural Foods where I finally found it.

Standard refresh:

  • 250g fridge starter
  • 175g strong white flour
  • 50g strong wholemeal flour
  • 25g rye flour
  • 250g warm water

This got five hours of refreshing.

Production sourdough:

Vefa’s Kitchen p537 (online copy of the recipe here) suggests 75% barley flour, 25% plain flour, some olive oil, but it’s also got honey in it which seems odd. Searching online doesn’t produce many other recipes, but ingredients lists often say 70% barley flour, some with olive oil, but never mention honey. The ones Soph bought have olive oil, no honey, and interestingly has a similar mix of flour to my sourdough: barley, wholemeal wheat & rye. So that gives me:

  • 150g starter
  • 175g barley flour
  • 50g strong wholemeal flour
  • 25g rye flour
  • 125ml warm water
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

After kneading it got 3 hours rising, stretching and folding a couple of times. It was really obvious when stretching and folding that the barley flour has much less gluten than wheat flour, it would break very easily while stretching where the normal dough just stretches and stretches.

There are many shapes of Cretan rusks, but the ones Soph got from the deli are a spiral shape that are great for piling on toppings. Vefa suggests a more bagel shape, but I’d prefer not to have that hole in the middle (even if it does mean a sort of dog turd shape!).

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After proofing for two hours Vefa suggests scoring around the side to make them easier to cut later, but I forgot…

Vefa has them cook for an hour at 180C fan. This seems a long time… but I’m following the instructions to see what happens.

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After cooling it’s time to cut them in half.

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Wow… these were tough. The score line would have helped, but they’re next to being a rusk already so it still would have been tough. If I do these again I’d only bake for 30 minutes so they’re easily to cut – after all they’ll still get the second baking to crisp up.

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It only took 90 minutes in the oven at 110C fan for them to crisp up. Once they’re cooled I’ll store in the bread bin in a plastic bag, a bit like the bought ones.

Update

After weeks of waiting, we finally got to try them. They are crispy and taste like the bought ones. Result!

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2 thoughts on “Sourdough Cretan Barley Rusks

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