Barley Bread

Barley Bread Recipe

Barley bread

This dense, rustic flat bread has a satisfying nutty taste and crunchy texture around the edges. It's great served with soups and stews, or salads. It's also nice on it's own, spread with honey or avocado as a snack or light meal. Best served warm, right from the oven.

Because it's wheat-free, this bread doesn't contain the amount of gluten that a wheat-based loaf would, so therefore it doesn't puff up and create a light, airy bread like wheat-based loaves. It's more a cross between a flat-bread and a cracker, crunchy around the edges. But I love the texture, it feels much more substantial than a typical airy loaf. It's chewy in the middle, crunchy around the edges and much more flavorful than wheat flour. Oh, and it's vegan as well.

This is one of the easiest and quickest bread recipes I've ever used. No bread maker or mixer required, it's easy enough to do it all manually. You don't need to wait until the dough rises (proofs), so it's a great option for whipping up some bread at the last minute to go with your meal.


2 cups barley flour
2 tsp wheat-free baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flaxseed (linseed)
2 tbsp sunflower seed


Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. You can use a fine-mesh strainer instead of a sifter. Just use a spoon to tap the sides of the strainer to sift the dry ingredients through the mesh. You can also use the spoon to ‘stir' the flour if you prefer, make sure the spoon is touching the bottom of the strainer and stir in a circular motion just inside the rim of the strainer.

Once all the dry ingredients are sifted, blend the water, olive oil, flaxseed and sunflower seeds in a high-powered blender until liquefied. The non-vegan version calls for cream and milk, so you're creating a seed milk substitute. Fold this seed milk into the flour and mix until it forms a dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and using your hands shape it into a flat round shape about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick.

Slide the loaf onto the baking sheet and use a knife to score the top of the loaf to form the slices. Then using the prongs of a fork, make indentations all over the top of the loaf.

Bake until pale golden in color, about 15-20 minutes. Cut or break into wedges along the score lines and serve warm.

Barley Bread Slice

Barley Bread Slice, ready to eat

Makes 1 small loaf.


  • Add a handful of sunflower seeds to the sifted flour just before adding the liquid ingredients.
  • Add 2 tbsp citrus zest (lemon, lime or orange) to the flour mixture just before adding the liquids.
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31 Responses to “Barley Bread”

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  1. azar says:

    barley bread

  2. Maria says:

    Very tasty. Nutty and crunchy, easy to prepare, great with cheese, tomatoes, olives.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Maria, making my mouth water right now thinking about it with cheese, tomatoes and olives. Yum. I love it warm from the oven with honey on it too!

  3. Donna says:

    I’m not sure exactly how long it will last, because I tend to eat all of it within a couple of days. My guess would be that it would last a week at least, as long as you make sure it’s completely cool before putting it in the bag. Any heat still in the bread will form condensation in the bag once it hits the colder temperature of the fridge. It’s that condensation trapped in the plastic bag that will cause mold to grow. I find any time I put bread in the fridge though, that it makes it a bit dry and hard. So I try to leave it out as long as I can. I know this bread lasts for at least 3 days out of the fridge in a paper bag. If it does get too dry after a few days I recommend toasting it, it’s great toasted too.

  4. kat says:

    I am going to try this as a griddle bread.

    • Donna says:

      Hi Kat. I’m sure it will be great as a griddle bread. I imagine it will really enhance that nutty flavor. Let me know how it turns out.

  5. Clotilde M. says:

    Looks absolutely delicious!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Clotilde, it was delicious. Very nutty and chewy. Great warm with butter… and honey too. If you try some let me know what you think.

  6. Avigayil says:

    Jan. 17, 2011

    Hello……Thanks for this great rustic recipe for barley bread…..I was so pleasantly surprised at the flavor and smooth consistency inside the delicious crust. Thanks again…..Avigayil

    • Avigayil says:

      I left a comment above….what does “comment is awaiting moderation” mean?

      • Donna says:

        Hi Avigayil, it just means that I have to manually approve comments before they become visible to everyone. It just helps to cut down on spam comments. I have approved both your comments now, thank you for the great feedback and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Fiona says:

    My body doesn’t respond well to flax, would i be able to substitute another seed like maybe sesame?

    • Donna says:

      Hi Fiona, thanks for your question. Yes, you could substitute another seed like sesame or poppy seed instead of the linseed. You could also just leave it out, I don’t think you would have to adjust any of the other ingredients. Or you could substitute nuts as well. I’ve not tried it but I think walnuts or pecans would be beautiful in this bread. But I think just about any nut would be nice. Just chop them up a bit so you have pieces about the size of sunflower seeds.

  8. Rose says:

    Do you know the nutrional breakdown… ie carb count.

    • Donna says:

      Hi Rose, I’m sorry I don’t know the nutritional breakdown. I don’t really track carbs and stuff like that myself. I know there are some sites on the web that will take the ingredients of a recipe and calculate that sort of thing. I don’t know how accurate they are, but it should give you a general idea.

      • Donna says:

        Hi Rose, I just found out about this online calorie counter, which gives other nutritional data as well. Click here to try it. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but it’s quite easy to use and gives you the standard nutritional data like you find on packaged food, i.e. the macro nutrients. I look at food in a completely different way, phytonutrients and trace minerals are very important to our heath. But it sounds like that website will give you what you are looking for.

  9. Janine says:

    This bread looks lovely. I would like to try it but I do not want to use flax or sunflower seeds. Do I assume that I can replace these with 3 tbsp milk? Please advise.

  10. sarabi says:

    how much does this serve i am making this for a class project and it has twenty four kids and thats just an estimation and i really need this info and i already doubled the recipe i need this info right now its due tommorow!!!!

    • Donna says:

      Hi Sarabi. This recipe makes a loaf a bit smaller than a dinner plate from memory. It’s about an inch thick. It is very dense and filling though. So it just depends on how big you need the portions to be, depending on if it will be served by itself or with something else?

  11. Deborah says:

    I don’t have to watch for gluten products, so can I use regular baking powder or does it change the recipe? Thanks

    • Donna says:

      Hi Deborah, thanks for your question. If you don’t have to avoid gluten you can use the regular kind of baking powder.

  12. Alice Evans says:

    If i was to use dairyfree milk instead of the nutty milk what ingredients do i replace with what quantity of milk?

  13. shellytoday2012 says:

    I made this Barley Bread Tonight along side some homemade wildrice and ham chowder. The bread turned out just like the photo posted on this site. I really enjoyed the rustic nature of it and it made me feel like I was eating a taste of History!! smiles

  14. Bilyana says:

    yummy. so tasty. loved it. i never knew how to make anything from barley flour. fantastic recipe.
    i would only put half of the salt, but maybe it’s just me – prefer less salty breads. thanks a lot

  15. Pamjayne says:

    Just a quick question, if I wanted to add to another type of flour would it change the recipe completely, the rest of the family are not convinced by barley on its own! I am thinking of a multi grain type flour? Thanks in advance…

    • Donna says:

      Hi Pamjayne, it would change the texture and density of the bread for sure. I’d say make it and let your family taste it and decide if they like it or not. If you do try it with a multi-grain flour let me know how it turns out. I’ve never tried it that way. Even if you they don’t like it as a multi-grain bread, try it with the barley flour you’re family might find they like it even more that way.

  16. bastiaan says:

    “Because it’s wheat-free, this bread doesn’t contain the amount of gluten that a wheat-based loaf would, so therefore it doesn’t puff up and create a light, airy bread like wheat-based loaves.”

    That sounds like a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy because your recipe uses baking powder as the leavening agent. 🙂 I suspect you would be able to get a similar rise out of barley as you are getting from baking powder, if you were to use yeast instead. (And it would improve the flavour substantially.) Though, like rye bread, it would still not be light and airy like wheat bread. See for example the 100% barley bread recipe on sourdough dot com that uses a natural leaven.

  17. Jan says:

    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. I do have a question. My flax and sunflower seed are already in powder form. Do you know if 1 tbsp. of seed is equal to 1 tbsp. of powder?

    • Donna says:

      Hi Jan, it’s usually slightly different when you powder it. I would mix everything but the flax/sunflower powder, then mix in a little at a time until the dough seems the right consistency. For a small amount it probably won’t make too much difference in the end product.