If you soak barley grain in warm water, it cooks very slowly, resulting in a small loss of nutrients. Toasted grain is very crunchy and can be cracked or milled by laying it in a thin layer on a wooden cutting board and rolling over it with a rolling pin, before using to roll out the bars. The blackcurrant walnut bars should be eaten within 1–2 days while still fresh.
- 11⁄4 cups barley grains,
- 1⁄2 cup walnut pieces,
- 4 dates, pitted,
- 3⁄4 cup dried blackcurrants (or blueberries).
Makes 8 or more bars
- Rinse the barley grains, then soak them in warm water overnight. In the morning, drain the grains and leave them to dry out for several minutes in a strainer. Set aside 51⁄2oz (150g) of the grain and spread the rest in a thin layer over a clean, dry cloth to dry until the following day.
- The 51⁄2oz (150g) of grain you set aside should still be damp, yet not wet, and will be ready to toast. Heat a large frying pan over high heat, then turn the heat down and add the barley in small batches to toast. Ensure that the pan isn’t too crowded, and that the size of the pan enables an equal toasting of all the barley grains. Stir nonstop until the grain turns golden and makes gravely noises as you stir it.
- Leave the grain to cool completely, then transfer it in batches into a pestle and mortar and grind until lightly milled.
- Toast the walnuts in the same way as the barley, toasting it gently until golden with a nutty scent.
- When the walnuts and barley grain are ready to use, put the untoasted batch of barley grains in a blender or food processor with the dates and blend to create a paste. Move to a mixing bowl and add the blackcurrants and walnuts. Mix well. Spread the toasted barley grains over a work surface and put the paste mixture on top, rolling it out into a rectangle or pressing it into shape with clean hands. Cut into bars and put them on a rack to dry.