Lemon Barley Loaf

Does “lemon bread” conjure for you an image of sugary, cake-like, bright yellow slabs that make a fine dessert but a lousy ham sandwich? This lemon barley bread, adapted from the Lemon Barley Cob recipe in Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf, is nothing like that. This is real bread, with a strong lemon flavor that goes well with anything from a drizzle of honey to slices of tomato with a basil leaf or two.*

The Handmade Loaf is a book well worth owning. It showcases dozens of unique breads and bakers from across Europe, as well as Lepard’s minimalist mixing method. This generally consists of 20–30 minutes of doing nothing more than allowing the dough to rest and collect itself, punctuated by two or three short bursts of hand kneading.

Lemon Barley Loaf

Yield: 600 g (one loaf)


  • Elaborate sourdough starter
  • Mix final dough: 25 minutes
  • First fermentation : 1 hour
  • Shape: 2 minutes
  • Proof: 1.5 hours
  • Bake: 45 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 75F


  • 100 g barley flour
  • 150 g high-gluten flour (I used Sir Lancelot from King Arthur Flour)
  • 133 g water at room temperature
  • 1 g instant yeast
  • 5 g salt
  • 14 g fresh lemon juice
  • finely-grated zest of one lemon
  • 30 g honey
  • 167 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • coarse salt for sprinkling


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt, and yeast.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the starter, honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and 90% of the water.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix with your hands until everything is incorporated. Adjust the water as needed to achieve a medium-soft consistency.
  4. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-oiled counter and knead for 10 seconds (yes, seconds).
  6. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and allow it to rest for another 10 minutes.
  7. Turn the dough out and knead for 10 seconds more.
  8. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and allow it to ferment for one hour at room temperature.
  9. Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured counter and shape it into a batard.
  10. Place the batard, seam-side-up, in a lightly-floured couche. Cover and proof for 1.5 hours at room temperature.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 410F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  12. Just before baking, spray the loaf with water, sprinkle with coarse salt, and make a single slash down the long axis of the batard.
  13. Bake at 410F for 10 minutes with steam, and another 20 minutes or so without steam. Reduce the temperature to 375F and bake for another 10 minutes. The turn off the oven and leave the loaf inside for another 5–10 minutes, with the door ajar.
  14. Cool on a wire rack.

*Remember how I said the bread goes well with tomatoes and basil? I have to confess that this week was the second time in a couple of weeks that I made this dough. The first time, I have just returned from vacation, and when I finish mixing the dough and turn my thoughts to dinner, I open the refrigerator to find it virtually empty, except for an unopened container of ricotta. I do have a garden full of ripe tomatoes and beautiful basil. Hmmm, sounds like a pizza, if only I had some dough…

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Lemon? Huh, I’m going to have to think about that and figure out if it would just taste weird or if it just requires a different type of topping than normal water/flour/yeast/salt breads…

  2. says

    Yes, YES, YES on all counts! This is a wonderful book. I’ve baked many loaves from it. Now I’m trying to figure out how I’ve missed this one. Got to try the lemon in this!
    And the pizza – sigh – gadfry that is smashingly beautiful!!

  3. says

    I just saw a barley bread for BBD a couple od days back. This one has a tang of lemon. I really have to go look for barley flour.
    Its the pizza that’s calling to me.:) It looks delicious.

  4. says

    Glad you have Dan’s book, I met him last year in Wales, he is not only a generous teacher/baker he is just a wonderful human being!

    happy baking!
    Bread looks great, my new oven is coming tomorrow!

  5. says

    Susan, as you’ve shown, lemon actually goes quite well with bread. In fact, if I remember correctly, one of Della Fattoria’s signature breads is a Meyer Lemon Rosemary bread.

  6. says

    Nice looking loaf!
    So, a few weeks ago, I bought a container of citrons confits, an ingredient often used in North African cooking (tagines, etc). There is liquid and the soft, whole lemon. They aren’t sweet, they are just lemons. I made a lemon lamb tagine last night, but I have heard of lemon bread. Your recipe could be a good one to try with them. But lemon zest is very strong while these are milder tasting. What do you think?

  7. says

    Caitlin, it’s definitely different, I guess your taste would determine if it qualifies as weird…

    Erin, thanks, do have a look at the book!

    rainbowbrown, it definitely gave the pizza a unique quality!

    Tanna, the book has so many wonderful recipes and I’m sad to say I’ve only tried a few… I don’t know how Dan L. would feel about me using this as pizza crust!

    Aparna, I’d be interested to know if barley flour is readily available in India?

    Jeremy, what an opportunity, to meet Dan in person. From his writing I can believe he is indeed a wonderful and generous person.

    kitchenmom, I think you won’t be disappointed in the book.

    SteveB, yes. I’m going to have to look for that bread next time I’m in Della Fattoria country.

    Jude, yes, it’s really striking how just a little mixing and a lot of resting can develop gluten so nicely.

    Laura, the barley does not jump out at you but lends a nice nutty quality.

    Jane, I can’t vouch for preserved lemon in this bread but I imagine it would be great.

    Madam Chow, I think you’d like the book a lot.

  8. walter fargo says

    hi Susan
    what do you mean when you say “Elaborate” sourdough starter?
    just wondering if i should be doing anything to my starter like making a sponge before i use it?
    walter fargo

  9. David says

    I think this may help answer the question about elaborated starter, but you may need to further search for the meaning of 100% hydration relative to dough consistency.
    Quote from another site:
    Elementary terminology question

    I’m having a crisis of terminology. When I make bread these days I often initially elaborate the starter into a mixture of flour and water at 100% hydration, which I allow to ferment for 12 hours or so. This mixture is then converted to dough by the addition of more flour and water and salt. I don’t know what to call that intermediate stage; the elaborated starter that is the preferment. I’m happy calling the intial little bit of stuff that I feed every day “starter”, and I’m happy calling the complete mixture “dough”, but I don’t have a term that makes me happy for the initial elaboration of the starter, ie the starter, flour and water that preceeds the dough. I’m interested to entertain any suggestions. Thanks for your indulgence in trying to make me happy.


  10. EL says

    The last place I lived, a bakery made a non-sweet yeast lemon bread that was great for tomato sandwiches and also to have with blackberry jam (dinner and dessert). I loved it. So I have been looking for a similar bread and hope this will work. I do have reservations about the amount of honey that you put into the bread. thirty grams seems like a huge amount. Is that really necessary?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>