Rusks; barley flour, pressure cooked

Since I haven’t tried barley flour pressure cooked I decided to give that a try.

1 cup barley flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons instant potato
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup (approximately) water

The water quantity is an approximation. I add the water slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts sticking together in clumps I let it mix longer before I add each additional tablespoon. Towards the end the dough will clump together and stick to the mixer’s paddle. In the beginning the mixer is on low; once the dough starts clumping together I put the spatter shield on the bowl and turn up the mixer’s speed. At this point, after each tablespoon of water it needs to mix for a minute or more before I add another tablespoon. As soon as it starts sticking to the bowl I stopped adding water and turned the mixer’s speed up to high. I also felt the dough with my fingers to make sure it wasn’t too stiff or too wet.

Then I put it in a greased plastic bowl with a snap on lid, but before putting its lid on it I press some plastic food wrap down onto the dough. Even with plastic on it the top darkens. I let it rest for at least an hour before I transfer it to the loaf pan and cook it.

I let the dough rest for at least 2 hours.

The reason I let the dough rest is that I read that whole grain flours don’t absorb fluids as quickly as white wheat flour does. And that the bran needs extra time to soak up its fluids. Additionally, there is enzyme activity going on that adds complexity to the flavor of the bread, but that probably requires a longer rest (for example, a day).

After its rest I put it in the mini loaf pan, buttered, tightly covered with aluminum foil, and cook it at high pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure go down naturally.

I set up my pressure cooker by putting the pressure cooker’s trivet in it then I put the folding steaming basket on top of it (with its center handle removed). I want the loaf pan up away from the water and I put in several cups of water.

I chill the cooked loaf overnight in the fridge. I prepare it for the fridge by wrapping it in 3 layers of paper towel and then put it in a plastic bag which I wrap around it. The paper towels pick up any moisture that comes out of the loaf; without the paper towels the moisture collects on the plastic bag and gets back on the loaf and makes its outside sticky and gummy.

Next I slice the bread at the 2 setting. I couldn’t help myself and kept eating the odd bits that weren’t well sliced. Barley flour bread is very tasty; rich and buttery, which is why I used butter instead of oil in this recipe, to accentuate the barley flour’s flavor.

The slices are drying at 115 degrees; I set the timer for 10 hours.

After drying and several hours of resting and relaxing … quite nice. Wonderful taste; nice and rich and buttery. The texture is good as well. My only complaint is that it was hard to slice them well with the slicer; the top or bottom is thinner than the other side.


6 Comments on “Rusks; barley flour, pressure cooked”

  1. heathertwist says:

    I’m interested in the whole concept of “pressure cooker bread”. I don’t think I’ve heard of it before, but it sounds like you might be onto something. Any words of wisdom, or is there a post I missed about the theory behind it?

    • Rusty Wright says:

      I wrote this about the advantages of using the pressure cooker for making these rusks:

      The rusk bread I’m making is unleavened; I don’t know how it would work with a leavened bread (baking powder, yeast, etc.) since that rises. I’m tightly covering the loaf pan with aluminum foil; you couldn’t do that with a leavened bread since the bread would press up against the aluminum foil. With leavened bread perhaps you could construct some sort of cover for the loaf pan; for example, an inverted bowl. Or maybe a tent of aluminum foil. The bread needs to be covered because water drips on it from the lid of the pressure cooker.

      A normal loaf pan doesn’t fit in my pressure cooker. But for other breads you could use a round spring form pan; again though, there’s the issue of covering it.

      For a leavened bread he texture is very likely not going to be the same; for example, the sides of the loaf won’t be dry, nor will the top. It will probably be moister than if it had been baked in the oven. It may also be denser; I don’t know if it will rise as much.

      Happily, none of these issues are a problem for these rusks since I want a brick and I’ll be drying the slices in the food dehydrator after it’s cooked in the pressure cooker.

      I got the idea because I had read a recipe for it somewhere but I didn’t really pay attention. There’s also Boston brown bread, which is steamed in empty coffee cans, but that’s in or over boiling water, not a pressure cooker, although I’m sure you could make Boston brown bread in a pressure cooker.

      If you do a web search you can find recipes, although most of them are about making the bread directly in the pressure cooker, without a loaf or spring form pan, and are by or for people on sail boats. It seems to me that that would scorch on the bottom.

      • Rusty Wright says:

        Also note that when I say “I want a brick” that that’s an understatement for what I get; the loaf has the density of a block of cheddar cheese.

      • heathertwist says:

        Now you see, THAT is really interesting to me. I’ve been looking for a way to make gluten-free crackers that are really hard and crispy, like Wasa brot. I never liked “spongy” bread, even when I was a kid. But the idea of baking bread that isn’t leavened, then slicing it, didn’t occur to me.

        Now, Chinese Hum Bows are cooked in a steamer, and yes, they aren’t browned. I’m not sure what the pressure would do though? I cook my bread in an oven with a water pan, and it makes the bread rise better, and somehow it browns anyway. But the pressure would change things for sure

        The Asians also cook lumps of tapioca or corn starch, mixed with shrimp, and slice and dry them. Those are then fried (they puff up) make shrimp chips, which are very good. But they are so hard that they aren’t really edible before frying. So the idea of eating unleavened “rusks” didn’t occur to me at all. You seem to have solved that by adding bran, which is a good idea. I really like not having to cook in the oven. Ovens are absurdly wasteful, and hard to work with.

        So now I have to experiment!

    • Rusty Wright says:

      Another issue is that flavors change in the pressure cooker and are different than with baking in the oven. So a spiced bread, like a gingerbread loaf, may not come out the same.

  2. Rusty Wright says:

    That’s funny about the shrimp chips. My mother had some of those way way back when I was in high school. I don’t remember if they had shrimp in them though; they were different colors; red, orange, green, etc. And you had to fry them and they puffed up just like you say. I’m toying with the idea of getting an electric deep fryer ( ). If you have the name of those chips I’d love to see if I can find some; there’s a big Asian store near me that is fun to wander around in. And they have a great selection of vegetables and fungi.

    So far I’d say that the sorghum and barley rusks have the best texture. I haven’t tried making sorghum without any spices to see how they are plain. Barley tastes the best and works well when sliced thinly; sorghum can be sliced a little thicker. Unspiced/Unflavored barley really tastes wonderful. I don’t know how much it has but it’s not gluten free.

    If you get serious about rusks and you don’t have one, using an electric deli/meat slicer will give you consistent slices, especially when you need to make them thin. I got the EdgeCraft 610 food slicer from Amazon; it was highly rated there.

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