The benefits of wholemeal bread are nowadays widely known. Wholemeal flour is full of fiber, vitamins and minerals and a constantly increasing number of people opt for wholemeal bread globally. In Crete this has always been the case! Since ancient times, the traditional Cretan bread was and still is the famous barley rusk, known as “paximadi” or “dakos”. This is made primarily out of barley wholemeal flour which is a real fiber booster, greatly helping the digestive system. Barley is diet friendly, helps lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels and regulates the population of gut bacteria. Apart from barley flour Cretan rusks also contain some wholemeal wheat flour that is necessary for producing and manipulating the dough.
In the past, barley rusks were baked once a year by every family after the cereal harvest and milling activities. The advantage of the rusk is that it keeps, so this was the bread for all year round. Cretans were storing rusks in dry and shadowy places and were slightly soaking it in water to soften them before consumption (the degree of soaking depends on the type and hardness of the rusk).
Nowadays barley rusks are not the only type of bread consumed in Crete as some decades ago. However they are extremely popular and it can be said that there is no Cretan house not having a stock of these rusks. Of course there is not a single Cretan bakery, grocery store or supermarket not selling them. Cretans eat them as food accompaniments, in salads or in the famous dish made of rusks, tomato and feta or mizithra cheese (also known as “dakos”).