Barley flour is one of my new favourite ingredients. A big prairie crop, barley is high in fibre and a source of many essential vitamins and minerals, including thiamin, niacin, folate, riboflavin, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium. Barley is finally getting the recognition it deserves - after years of work, Health Canada has approved a health claim linking the consumption of barley beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre, to reduced blood cholesterol.
While I love cooking with pearled and pot barley, whole grain barley flour is even easier to incorporate into my day to day cooking. It's fine-textured - not as tweedy as whole wheat flour, and is even higher in fibre, yet it's often overlooked in the bakery aisle - although in most grocery stores you'll find bags alongside the wheat and whole wheat flours. I love using it in chocolate chip cookies - it adds a deeper, nuttier flavour and chewy texture - and barley flour absorbs moisture from the air, keeping them chewy longer.
Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups barley flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until pale and almost fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
Add the barley flour, baking soda and salt and stir or beat on low until almost combined; add the chocolate chunks and stir just until blended.
Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes (depending on their size) until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle. Let them set for a minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.