Today, we'd like to share a special recipe to make unbelievably crunchy barley "bruschettas" at home. It's called barley rusk — a traditional barley crispy-bread from Crete, Greece. Even saying the word "rusk" sounds like biting on something crunchy!
The two most unique properties of this recipe are the use of barley flour and the twice-baking cooking technique.
You may know barley as one of the key ingredients used to make beer. But did you know you can mill barley into flour and bake with it? This cereal has less gluten than wheat and has a more robust flavour. In the right quantity, it can bring unique character to your bakes. Note: Although the amount of gluten in barley is low, it's still not suitable for celiacs or people intolerant to this protein.
Twice-baking is a technique designed to make food extra crispy. In this recipe, rusks are first cooked at high temperature for a crunchy crust and then at a lower temperature to make them crispy inside.
Based on our research, there are two ways to shape Cretan barley rusks:
As a long and thin baguette-shaped roll which you slice into discs
As multiple round bun-shaped rolls that you cut in half
We opted for the latter because the shape reminded us of the Friselle Pugliesi we grew up eating as kids. Happy memories!
Finding barley flour shouldn't be a problem in most countries. Our US readers should find it with ease at Walmart or Whole Foods. In the UK, not all major supermarkets have it. If you can't get it at your local grocery, you can make it yourself from pearl barley. That's how we've done it. You can read how to make barley flour at home here.
There are so many ways to enjoy these barley rusks. You can top them with salad, crumble them in greek yogurt, enjoy them plain, or spread something tasty on them. If you are into the last option, check out our sundried tomato tapenade recipe.