Heirloom Barley Flour and Aquafaba for a Fantastic Muffin

Heirloom Tibetan Purple Barley makes a Beautiful Muffin

If barley seems to be the star of my blog these days, there’s a reason. I’m visiting the barley and wheat fields of the Pacific North West this week, to expand my whole grain horizons. For us grain nerds, Washington and Oregon are a mecca of great grains and flours, in large part because of the agriculture programs at Oregon State and Washington State Universities.

I’ll be at Washington State U attending and presenting at the Grain Gathering, a unique brain trust of grain breeders, growers, millers, bakers, chemists, ag economists, food politics people, and anyone else who is interested in whole grains. If you’re into learning more about baking or any part of the bigger picture of whole grains, you might want to attend next year, if you can get one of the limited number of tickets.

There are hands on baking classes,field tours, talks, and lots of tasting of breads and baked goods, whole grain foods, and the main thing most people consume made from barley: beer.

Tibetan Purple Barley

This week I’ve been sampling the beautiful heirloom Tibetan barley grown in Camas County Oregon. This particular grain is “Purple Karma Barley,” named with a nod to the Tibetan Buddhists. These ancient barleys are revered by the Tibetans, who have to keep themselves warm and energized in a bitterly cold, mountainous environment. You can try out the Tibetan way of eating barley with Tsampa, which I wrote about previously.

This time out, I wanted to grind the whole barley into flour, and see how it performed in a muffin bound with aquafaba in place of eggs. I did add a little bit of wheat flour, just to give it a little gluten to hold it together. The resulting muffin has a lovely texture, full of little bubbles. The barley muffins are moist and tender, without a hint of the coarseness that plagues the reputation of whole grain foods.

Heirloom Tibetan Purple Barley Makes a Beautiful Muffin

Heirloom Tibetan Purple Barley Makes a Beautiful Muffin

Aquafaba-The Magic of Bean Juice

If you haven’t tried aquafaba yet, it’s time to give it a go. You don’t have to be a vegan to want to save money and resources by baking with the water leftover from cooking chickpeas. I always drain my chickpeas and freeze the leftover liquid until I feel like baking, and that’s what I used for these tasty muffins.

To make the liquids that come from a can of beans a little more powerful, I did boil them down a bit to concentrate the starches and proteins that do the work of eggs. Then, I whipped them into a frothy mix in the Vitamix, and drizzled in oil to make an emulsion. Then the other liquids went in, and it all melded into a creamy blend.

Once I stirred it into the purple flour, it was clear that it was going to be beautiful. I folded in some delicate, just picked raspberries and lemon zest, and baked them.

The results are a not-too-sweet muffin, with some heft without being too heavy. They are perfect with a dab of jam and a cup of tea.

I hope you’ll try purple barley, although you could make these with the equivalent weight or naked barley, or pre-ground barley flour.

Because barley is an ancient and nutritious grain, sustainable and full of flavor.

Start seeing barley, or as the hardworking barley geniuses at Oregon State’s Barleyworld say: Make #barleyalwaysgreatagain

Barley Flour Muffins with Raspberries and Aquafaba

These muffins are studded with fresh, tangy raspberries, and the purple barley flour gives them an exotic hue.
Servings 8
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 1/2 cups whole purple barley ground to make 2 cups (196 g)
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup chickpea water boiled to make 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 8 muffin liners
  • 2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar for topping


  • Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line 8 muffin cups, or use the free standing liners I used in the photo, by placing them on a sheet pan. Spritz with canola oil.
  • Grind the whole barley in the Vitamix dry grinding container, or the regular container. Secure the lid, start on low, and increase to High speed. Grind for 2 minutes. Dump out on a plate to cool.
  • Measure the flour and put it in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to mix.
  • In a cup, stir the non-dairy milk and lemon juice, reserve.
  • In the Vitamix, place the reduced aquafaba, and blend on high for 2 minutes. The mixture will be bubbly and pale. On low speed, drizzle the oil in through the hole in the lid. Pour the non-dairy milk mixture in gradually. The final mixture will be white and creamy.
  • Pour the contents of the blender over the dry ingredients, and stir in gently. When mixed, sprinkle over the lemon zest and raspberries and fold in just to combine.
  • Scoop 1/2 cup measures of batter into the prepared cups and top with Turbinado sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in a center muffin comes out with no wet batter attached.
  • Cool on a rack.