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Pot barley orange and sesame pudding

Dessert Winter
Serves 2-4
Featured in
Plenty More cookbook

Pot barley takes longer to cook than pearl, but an overnight soak in water will speed things along. It's a robust grain that, if overcooked, won't collapse but will become more tender. This recipe is like rice pudding with texture, for those who don't mind using their teeth to eat pudding. It's also totally delicious.


½ tbsp each white and black sesame seeds, toasted (or use 1 tbsp white) 
1½ tbsp dark muscovado sugar
125g pot barley, covered with cold water and soaked overnight 
750ml whole milk
½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped or ½ tsp vanilla paste 
½ lemon finely grated zest
1 orange finely grated zest
20g tahini
1 medium orange
40g caster sugar
¼ tsp orange blossom water


  1. Start with the orange syrup. Shave off a long strip of orange peel, avoiding the pith, and put in a small pan. Trim off top and bottom of the orange, then cut down its sides to remove all the skin and pith. Working over a small bowl to catch any juice, cut out the segments by slicing between the membranes. Add the segments to the bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the caster sugar to the pan with the peel and add 75ml water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves – this should take less than a minute. Set aside to cool, then add the orange segments and juices, and the orange blossom water.
  3. Roughly crush the sesame seeds in a pestle and mortar with a teaspoon of muscovado sugar, and set aside.
  4. Drain and rinse the barley. Tip it into a medium saucepan with the remaining muscovado sugar, milk, vanilla pod and seeds, citrus zest and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the barley is cooked but still has some bite: if it's becomes very thick, add a little milk towards the end. Leave to cool for five minutes, then remove the vanilla pod and divide between four bowls. Dribble a teaspoon of Tahini over each portion, spoon over the orange segments and syrup, sprinkle with sesame and serve.