Barley Recipes - Lesson on Ruth
Two recipes were made using barley flour, so the children could taste something similar to what the ancient Hebrews may have eaten - a yeast-free barley quick bread, and a caraway-flavoured barley bread fried up in a cast iron skillet. Both are traditional Estonian recipes in origin.
The quick bread recipe, leavened with baking soda, includes a soft Farmers cheese (we used ricotta) and yogurt (we used plain Greek yogurt), and is sweetened with a little honey. Apart from the baking soda, the ingredients are similar to what would have been available to farmers of the time, who would have made soft cheeses from the milk of their goats and sheep in order to add extra protein to their diet. The congregation (including the children!) found this bread quite tasty. The recipe was found at: http://www.averagebetty.com/recipes/traditional-estonian-barley-bread-recipe/ (The small white pieces in the bread are bits of ricotta cheese.)
A second type of barley bread was cooked in the oven, in butter, in a cast iron skillet and was flavoured with caraway seeds. This bread was leavened with baking powder, had a heavier, somewhat chewy texture, and didn’t seem rise at all. Although flavourful, with the caraway and butter, the texture was off-putting to some. (The problems may well have been with the baker, as opposed to the recipe!) This recipe was found at: https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/estonian-barley-skillet-bread-30716
The children also had the opportunity to try barley gruel, in the form of baby cereal, but found it quite bland and tasteless, compared to the breads:
Note: After manually grinding the wheat grains long enough to be considered flour in their eyes 20-30 minutes), the children felt the silky consistency of the raw barley cereal and realized how gritty (and therefore far from the consistency of proper flour) their efforts actually were! They now realized what a difficult, daily chore it must have been for ancient women to produce enough bread for their families at a time when bread composed 3/4 of the daily diet.