We always hear about quick recipes, 30-minute meals and crock-pot dinners, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a challenge. My mother can attest to this with the 14 layer cake I made for her birthday a couple of years ago. It was absolutely delicious, but let’s just say it had some structural issues.
So sometimes I feel like getting away from instant gratification and making something the way my Yiayia used to. That’s the kind of mood I was in the other day while looking through Vefa’s Kitchen. I came across a recipe for Paximadia or “barley rusks” (something I never even thought to make) and the next day I was on a hunt for barley flour.
PAXIMADIA: BARLEY RUSKS
Inspired by Vefa’s Kitchen
2 c all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tbsp dried yeast
2-3 c lukewarm water
6 c barley flour
1 tbsp salt
4 tbsp honey
1/2 c olive oil
butter, for greasing
Makes 16-20 Rusks
Combine all-purpose flour and dried yeast in a bowl. Add enough lukewarm water to make a thick batter. Cover and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume. Sift together barley with salt in a large mixing bowl. Push flour/salt mixture up on sides of bowl to create a well in the middle of the bowl. Stir honey into remaining lukewarm water and pour into the center of the well. Add oil and yeast mixture. Slowly mix in flour from sides of bowl and knead until a sticky and elastic dough has formed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a put in a warm place to rise. After two hours, the dough should have doubled in size.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 6-7 minutes. Divide the dough into 16-20 pieces. Roll each piece out until it is about 10 inches in long. Join ends of the strip to create a circle and place on a greased cookie sheet. Leave approximately 2 inches in between each circle. Once all pieces are formed, cover the cookie sheet with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently score each circle horizontally with a sharp knife so that they are easier to split after baking. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let cool.
Once the rusks have cooled, cut each piece into two equal pieces along scored line. Place back on cookie sheet and in oven on lowest heat setting (mine was 200 degrees) for an additional 2-3 hours to completely dry out. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Paximadia are usually softened with water or olive oil before eating. They’re great with olives and cheese, but are pretty versatile overall. My favorite way to have them is as part of a salad (similar to the Italian Panzanella) called Dakos which just might have to be my next project.