Table with two plates of barley button buns and a jar of wholegrain mustard mayo

If you are wondering what Barley Button Buns are, think mushrooms on toast, only better. A freshly baked bun wrapped around a hearty mushroom and barley stew, served warm from the oven are my idea of comfort food.

These make a very tasty lunch, especially in winter. But these bite size buns also make perfect party finger food. Par-bake the buns and reheat just prior to serving. While they are delicious on their own, they achieve an entirely new level of delectability with the addition of a mustard-mayo dipping sauce. The sauce is insanely easy to make. Add 2-4 tablespoons of whole grain mustard to half a cup of mayo. Alternatively use your favourite savoury sauce.

A barley button bun with a side of yellow wholegrain mustard mayonnaise

The filling needs to be cold before filling the buns, so you can make it ahead or make a double batch and freeze some to use in a shepherds pie or serve with potato noodles. Otherwise prepare the the bread dough and let it rise while you make the filling. This recipe makes 10-12 buns.



  • 500g strong white flour
  • 7g active yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 150ml water
  • 175ml oat milk or plant-based milk of your choosing
  • 80ml olive oil

For an oil-free bread dough you could try this easy recipe.


Put the milk and water into a jug and stir in the yeast.

In a stand mixer bowl or mixing bowl, add flour, sea salt and olive oil. Whisk briefly to achieve a crumbly texture.

With the mixer running, pour in the liquids and knead until the dough is smooth and wraps around the dough hook. If making by hand, pour the liquid into the bowl and mix the dough together with a spoon. Turn out onto a clean bench and knead until smooth, silky and springy.

Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and set aside to rise. Alternatively, the dough can be made the night or morning before you want to make the Barley Button Buns by putting the dough in the fridge for a slow proof – for 8 to 12 hours.

Depending on the size of buns you wish to make, divide the dough into 10-12 portions. I like “hand size” buns which use approximately 70-80g of dough.

Roll the dough into balls and flatten with your hand or a rolling pin. You want the edges thinner.

Place the circle of dough in the centre of your hand and add about 2 tablespoons of stew. Pinch the edges of the dough together around the mixture. Arrange on a lined baking tray, smooth side up.

Bake at 180ºC for 20 minutes.

Button Barley Stew


  • Mirepoix – an onion, a carrot and a stem of celery
  • 250g tiny button mushrooms
  • 250ml plant-based chicken style stock
  • 125ml red wine
  • 40g pearl barley
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce* (anchovy free)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • olive oil or extra stock for an oil-free sauté mirepoix


Combine stock, red wine, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce in a jug and add the pearl barley and set aside. This will help the pearl barley it cook more quickly.

Wash the button mushrooms, halve or quarter if they are bigger than 1-1.5cm.

Peel and finely dice the mirepoix ingredients, add enough olive oil or stock (for an oil free mushroom stew) to coat the base of your pot. Slowly sauté the mirepoix over a medium heat, cook until the onions are soft and opaque.

Add the mushrooms bay and thyme, cook for a few minutes then add the cornflour and stir to coat the ingredients. Slowly pour in the stock mixture while stirring. Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or until the pearl barley is cooked and the sauce is thickened.

Taste the sauce and season. You can add more tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce or extra dried herbs if you like. For a richer sauce you could add a teaspoon of marmite or miso paste instead of salt.

*Worchestershire Sauce traditionally contains anchovy, which isn’t suitable for those of us who have a fish allergy or for vegans. You might be thinking you need to buy a special vegan version – which you could, but there are a number “everyday” Worcester sauces available which don’t use anchovy.

        1. ishbel says:

          Hello Luis, definately would work with pearled farro! I’m not sure if Farro would absorb more( or less ) liquid than pearl barley, so that is the only thing I would keep an eye on.

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