Barley and Wheat Cretan Paximadia

My recipe is inspired by various traditional breads and rusks from Crete. Scroll down to see my latest variation with  beer instead of wine, additional spices, and two different flours (oat and rye) besides the basic barley, and wheat. Read more about the origin and history of Paximadia.




For 16 large (4 1/2 Inch) biscuits


2 tablespoons honey


1 1/3 cup warm water or more if needed


2 tablespoons instant dry yeast


1 tablespoon coarse sea salt


1 tablespoon green aniseeds


2 – 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


2 cups whole barley flour


1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to oil the hands and bowl


1/2 cup sweet red wine such as Mavrodaphne or Port


1/2 cup dry red wine


Olive oil to brush the dough and the baking sheets



In a 4 cup bowl, dilute the honey in 1/3 warm water. Add the yeast, stir and let proof for 10 minutes. I
In a mortar beat the salt together with the aniseeds to get a coarse powder. In a large bowl stir together the wheat and barley flours and the aniseed-salt powder. Make a well in the center and pour in the olive oil, the sweet and dry wine, the yeast mixture and 1/2 cup warm water. Draw the flour towards the center, mixing it with the liquids to form a rather sticky dough. Knead patiently, adding a little more warm water or flour to obtain a smooth dough.


(Alternatively, work this dough in a food processor, equipped with dough hooks. Add all ingredients to the processor’s bowl, and work the dough for about 5 minutes at medium-low speed. Scrape the bowl with the spatula, as needed)




Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and continue kneading, folding, pushing, turning and folding, for another 2-3 minutes. You must end up with a soft, very slightly sticky dough.


RISING and SHAPING THE DOUGH: Form the somewhat sticky dough with oiled hands, and transfer into a 4 quart bowl, cover with plastic film and let rise in a draft-free place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it has almost doubled in size.



Cut the dough in half and divide each piece into quarters. Form each piece into a 1-inch-thick cord, then shape each cords into a small circle with overlapping ends (like a large doughnut). Place them on lightly oiled baking sheets, spaced 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover with plastic film and let rise for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.


Preheat the oven to 400 F (200C).


When you place the bread circles in the oven, reduce the temperature to 375 F. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the breads are light golden on top and sound hollow when tapped.





Let them cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to its lowest setting (175 F). Using a very good bread knife slice the circles in half horizontally. Place the halves on the oven rack and leave for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until they are completely dry. Let cool and keep in tins in a dry place.

Cretan Barley Paximadia will keep for up to 6 months or more.



VARIATION with Oat & Rye flours, plus additional Spices


3 cups All-purpose or bread flour


2 1/2 cups barley flour


1 cup oat flour


1 cup rye flour


2 tablespoons instant dry yeast


3  teaspoons sea salt


2/3-1 teaspoon ground black pepper


2 tablespoons aniseeds


2 tablespoons ground coriander seeds


1 -2 tablespoon dry oregano (optional)


1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to oil the hands and bowl


1/4 cup carob molasses, grape molasses


1/4 cup honey, date syrup, agave or any pure fruit syrup (without sugar)


1 can lager beer (12 ounces or 0, 33 lt)


1/2 cup water, or as needed



Toss the flours, salt, yeast and spices well to mix and aerate, the make a well in the center and add the olive oil, the carob, and honey or other syrups as well as the beer. Toss with a spatula or, better work the mixture in a food processor equipped with dough hooks.


Gradually and slowly add water as needed, making sure it goes to the bottom of the bowl, to make a soft, somewhat sticky dough. Work the dough at medium-low speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl with the spatula if needed.


Turn out the dough and transfer into an oiled bowl to rise; divide any way you like, shape and bake as rounds, or smaller biscuits, as described above.







6 thoughts on “Barley and Wheat Cretan Paximadia

      1. As I do not live in the US, I have no idea how much barley flour costs there, but I guess these days from grain of the poor, it has been upgraded to a luxury ingredient; and I have never seen or tasted ‘GrapeNuts’ what is it? Is the comparison favorable for the biscuits, I wonder.
        Incidentally, most Americans adore them, and a version of the recipe will be in Eating Well magazine in April. The editors told me that although they didn’t expect to like the rusks, they loved them…

  1. Thank you for this great recipe, I just LOVE paximadi, I eat it like candy.
    My darling daughter in law is from Greece, so I do get a bag from her parents once in a while. I guard the bags like a hawk, but now I can make my own.

  2. I want to try this recipe but can’t past the system of measurement. A cup of this, a cup of that. What is a cup?? They come in many sizes in the UK and are not used in recipes. Is it possible to get the ingredients in weights? Kilos, lbs – either would do.

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