Barley Cake | Magyk: Septimus Heap

‘Sally had just been around the tables sharing jokes, offering some newly baked slabs of barley cake and refilling the oil lamps that had been burning all through the dull winter afternoon.’

-Magyk; Septimus Heap, Angie Sage

For fans of Septimus Heap, here's a barley cake recipe from Sally Mullin's cafe.

While I’m well aware of barley and it’s use in beer, when it came to turning pearl barley into a cake, I was stumped.

There’s recipes for parmesan barley cake and apple and barley cake online, but I really wanted to make one that was more rustic. More old fashioned, where the main ingredient was the main taste.

Having recently made an old Canadian recipe called success bread (corn meal is the base), I felt that a similar recipe, replacing cornmeal with cooked pearl barley, was quite fitting. It worked beautifully, tasting wonderful warm with a pat of butter.


Barley Cake | Magyk: Septimus Heap

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  • Author: Bryton Taylor; Food in Literature
  • Cook Time: 50 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins


Units Scale
  • 2 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1/4 cup wheatgerm
  • 2 cups precooked pearl barley*
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp bicarb soda


  1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Spoon into a greased bread pan.
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes.


*To precook pearl barley, rinse and remove any discoloured pieces.
In a bowl, pour in the pearl barley and cover with cold water. Let sit and soak overnight (6-8 hours min). Drain and place in a saucepan. Pour in fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, until cooked (tender).
-pearl barley cooking notes adapted from McKenzie’s packaging.

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