Today we want to share a special recipe to make incredibly crispy barley bruschettas at home. It’s called barley rusk — a traditional crusty barley bread from Crete, Greece. Even saying the word “rusk” sounds like biting into something crunchy!
The two most unique features of this recipe are the use of barley flour and the bake twice cooking technique.
You may know barley as one of the main ingredients used in beer making. But did you know that you can grind barley into flour and bake with it? This grain contains less gluten than wheat and has a stronger flavor. In the right amount, it can give your baked goods a unique character. Note: Although the amount of gluten in barley is small, it is still not suitable for people with celiac disease or those who cannot tolerate this protein.
Double baking is a technique developed to make food extra crispy. In this recipe, rusks are first cooked at a high temperature for a crispy crust and then at a lower temperature for a crispy interior.
Based on our research, there are two ways to shape Cretan barley rusks:
As long and thin Baguette shaped roll you slice
As a multiple round bun-shaped rolls you halve
We chose the latter because the shape reminded us of that Friselle Pugliesi We grew up with food as children. Happy memories!
Finding barley flour shouldn’t be a problem in most countries. Our US readers should have no trouble finding it at Walmart or Whole Foods. In the UK, not all major supermarkets have it. If you can’t get it at your local grocery store, you can make your own from pearl barley. That’s how we did it. You can read about how to make barley flour at home here.
There are so many ways to enjoy this barley rusk. You can top them with a salad, crumble them into Greek yogurt, enjoy them on their own, or spread something delicious on top. If you choose the last option, check out our Sun Dried Tomato Tapenade recipe.
frequently asked Questions
How do you cut Greek rusks?
There are two ways to shape and slice the dough to make Greek Rusks.
In our recipe, we portioned the dough into 130g (4.5 oz) pieces, formed into patties, and then sliced horizontally. You can use cake wire or a sharp knife to cut the dough.
Alternatively, you can shape all of the dough into a single long log like a baguette. Then cut into 3 cm (1 inch) thick slices without cutting all the way through. This is how the individual slices are held together at the bottom during the second rising and first baking.
Finally, slice the rusk at the point previously scored and bake again following our recipe above.
What yeast is best for these bread chips?
You can use instant dry yeast, active dry yeast, or fresh yeast to make the rusk dough.
They are all equivalent and give the same results, so it’s just a matter of personal preference.
Fresh yeast is sold in blocks and must be dissolved in lukewarm water before use. For this recipe, swap 7g (0.2 oz) of dry yeast for 16g (0.5 oz) of the fresh yeast.
As the name suggests, active dry yeast is dry instead. Unlike fresh yeast, the yeast cells are dormant and need to be activated first. To do this, dissolve the granulate in lukewarm water and let it bubble for 5 minutes.
Finally, instant dry (or rapid) yeast is a drier version of activated yeast and does not need to be activated before use. Although you can add it to your bowl right away, we always test it first to make sure it’s working well. In this process, called “blooming,” you whisk the yeast grains with lukewarm water and flour. Then wait for the mixture to bubble and increase in volume.
Can you make barley flour from pearl barley without a mill?
Yes you can. All you need is a strainer, a powerful blender and a little patience.
First coarsely chop the pearl barley in the food processor. Then pass it through a fine-mesh sieve to extract the flour you’ve gotten so far and set aside.
Then, return what’s left in the strainer back to the blender and repeat the flashing and straining process a few more times.
You can continue adding barley grains to the food processor until you reach the desired amount of barley flour.
At the end of the blitzing and sifting process, you like to have a few barley pellets left over. Don’t worry, you can cook them just like pearl barley and make a delicious tabbouleh or hearty soup.