Pearl Barley is barley that has been processed to remove its outer hull. Up till now I mostly used this grain to make variations of Lemon Barley Water but I spotted a rather interesting recipe called "Durham Fluffin'"in Sara Paston-Williams "Comfort Puddings" that got me thinking. It seems to be a variation on a rice pudding - soaked pearl barley is cooked with milk until thick and creamy and then flavoured with nutmeg and brandy and sweetened with either sugar or honey. It is finished with crystallised orange or cream and jam sauce.
I did have one concern about the recipe and that was the cooking time of 30 minutes - this seemed rather optimistic and as it turns out, way off the mark. Mine took well over an hour and probably could have run to 1 and half hours. So if you try this recipe, do keep this in mind - it will be ready when the grain has softened enough and you may also find you'll need to add extra milk along the way.
4 tablespoons pearl barley
3 cups/750mls full cream milk (approx)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
vanilla bean paste
Place the pearl barley in a bowl - cover generously with water and place in the fridge overnight.
The next day, drain the barley and place in a pot with the milk. Simmer this, stirring frequently, until the barley has softened and the mix has thickened.
As mentioned in the preamble, this will be ready when it is ready. You may need to add extra milk if you find that the mix is too thick and the grains are not soft enough.
I only added the vanilla bean paste and brown sugar when the barley had softened and the mixture was thick and creamy.
Serve it immediately.
I took the advice and made a jam sauce to go with the pudding. A jam sauce issimply a mix of your favourite fruit jam, water and lemon juice. This is heated until the jam melts and then strained. I prefer a thicker, more syrupy sauce, so after straining, I re-simmered the sauce until it reduced by about a third.
Serve it on the side while still hot.
I think this could be a interesting alternative to porridge and might be worth experimenting with cooking it in a slow cooker overnight.