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Nov 1, 2017

Sourdough Barley Bread with Figs and Pecans

I'm really excited about this Sourdough Barley Bread with Figs and Pecans. The sweet, nutty flavor of the barley flour adds a wonderful dimension to this fig and toasted pecan filled bread.

This sourdough barley bread with figs and pecans has a wonderful soft and airy crumb. The bread is filled with chunks of dried figs and toasted pecans, and has a very mild sourdough tang. I'm thrilled with how it came out.

The crust is deeply browned and so chewy, exactly what I was looking for. I used the same shaping method that I used with this Walnut Levain Bread, proofing the bread seam side down, and letting it open up naturally while baking. It's a technique from Ken Forkish's book, Flour Water Salt Yeast, a book that has taught me so much about artisan bread baking. I've owned the book for five years, and probably refer to it every week for tips on timing, bakers' percentages, and technique. The cover is well worn.

This bread takes about 17 to 20 hours to make, but most of that time is hands off. The most active time is the first 2 hours after mixing the final dough, where you will have to hand mix the dough and then do 3 stretch-and-folds.

Suggested Schedule: Feed your starter at 8 a.m., mix the final dough around 3 or 4 p.m., shape the loaves around 9 p.m., and bake the loaves the next morning, 8 to 10 a.m.

You can toast the pecans either by baking them in the oven or stirring them in a skillet on the stovetop. I used the stovetop method this time and loved that it was so much easier to keep an eye on the pecans so that they wouldn't burn.

Slather it with butter, toast it, grill it with some cheese, or even make a chicken salad sandwich. This bread will make you very happy.

Yield: 2 large loaves

Sourdough Barley Bread with Figs and Pecans


Levain/Sourdough Starter
  • 50 grams active starter/liquid levain (100 percent hydration)
  • 200 grams bread or unbleached all purpose flour
  • 50 grams whole wheat flour
  • 200 grams lukewarm water (about 85 degrees F)
Final Dough
  • 740 grams bread or unbleached all purpose flour
  • 60 grams barley flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour)
  • 620 grams lukewarm water (about 90 to 95 degrees F)
  • 22 grams fine sea salt
  • 2 grams instant yeast
  • 360 grams levain/sourdough starter
  • 85 grams toasted and coarsely chopped pecans
  • 135 grams dried figs, coarsely chopped


  1. First thing in the morning, mix the levain ingedients by hand until just incorporated, cover, and let rest for 6 to 8 hours.
  2. In a very large bowl or a 12 quart Cambro bucket, mix the white and barley flours. Add the water and mix by hand until just incorporated. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the salt and yeast. Add 360 grams of the levain. Dip your hands in water and mix the dough by alternatively pinching it with your fingers and folding it. This should not take very long. Let it rest for about 10 minutes, and then fold the pecans and figs into the dough.
  4. Cover the container and let it rise for about 4 to 5 hours, until it has more than doubled, stretching and folding the dough three times every half hour during the first 2 hours of rising.
  5. Gently scrape the dough from the bucket/bowl, onto a lightly floured counter, and divide it in half with a bench knife or dough scraper. Generously rub two dish towel/flour sack lined 9 inch bowls/bannetons with a wheat/rice flour mixture.
  6. Shape the dough halves into boules, and place them, seam side down, into the bowls/baskets. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate immediately.
  7. 12 to 14 hours later (the next morning), preheat your oven to 475 degrees F, and place two heat proof Dutch ovens in your oven. If you only have one pan, leave the other loaf in the refrigerator while the first one bakes.
  8. When you are ready to bake, cut parchment into two 9 inch by 15 inch pieces.Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, remove the plastic wrap, place the parchment over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Repeat with the second loaf. If you are using the Lodge combo cooker, use the lid on the bottom and the larger pan on top. This makes it much easier to maneuver with the parchment paper.
  9. Bake covered for 25 minutes, and then remove the Dutch ovens from the hot oven, uncover, and place the loaves on a baking sheet. Be careful not to burn yourself! Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 15 to 25 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is a deep brown. You don't have to move your loaves to baking sheets, but I like to do it to prevent burning on the bottom.
  10. Cool loaves completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Did you know that November 1 - 7 is National Fig Week? Here's a great way to celebrate!

Sourdough Barley Bread with Figs and Pecans is my contribution to this month's Foodie Extravaganza where we are sharing recipes with figs, hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Foodie Extravaganza
Foodie Extravaganza celebrates obscure food holidays, and we all post recipes using the same ingredient. Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you!

Would you like to comment?

  1. I love the idea of serving this bread with cheese. What a great grilled cheese sandwich you could make with this. Now my stomach is grumbling.

  2. Karen, your breads always have me wanting to reach into my computer screen and grab a loaf. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I can't wait to try it.

  3. I have a sourdough starter that I've been meaning to try baking bread with for the longest time (but still haven't gotten around to it x_x)--this looks delicious! I love that you added figs! :]

  4. Reading this post while starving at Chicago airport, waiting to fly home... is to put it mildly, cruel.. ;-)

    would love a couple of slices, right now... no butter needed. Nothing!

    beautiful loaf, Karen!

    1. Awww. Thanks so much Sally! It's a great weekend project.... =)

  5. This looks wonderful - I love that we both went for a bread yet they are still different. I must give the barley a try!

    1. Thanks Caroline! Great minds think alike. Your bread looks amazing.

  6. I love me some bread and this is totally one I would devour! Thanks for sharing on Friday Frenzy! Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck - Colleen

  7. Awesome and beautiful bread, love the crusty top.

  8. This bread looks delightful! Thanks for linking up at Friday Frenzy Link Party! Pinned!

  9. Saw this on IG tonight -- looks beautiful and delicious. Looks like a good excuse to use my starter.


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