Delicious bread from spent grains

By Greg B.  Over the past few years, I’ve been experimenting with ways to use the spent grains from homebrewing.  Since switching to all-grain recipes, I’ve had just pound after pound of spent grains at the end of a brew day… with no real use for them.  Sure, I’ve given some away to friends to include in their compost, and I’ve tried to make dog treats (which are quite tasty, actually).  But still at the end of the day, I just toss the entirety of the spent grains.  But in the past two years, I’ve begun experimenting with a new approach: baking them into bread.

Now, I’ve made bread with brewer’s yeast before, and it’s always an interesting approach.  It needs more time to rise and you have to treat it sort of like a sourdough, more than a standard yeast (by the way, use Belgian yeasts for this, they’re really vigorous and delicious.  Most other strains just can’t seem to handle flour).  And I’ve baked breads with spent grains in them, but my bread baking abilities are still in their infancy.  Luckily, I have a buddy who has all but perfected his spent grain bread making talents.  I’m going to link to his blog here, but also re-post his recipe.  For anyone interested in watching a man experiment with his recipes, Alex’s blog is great, it’s full of information about brewing, but is also full of self-criticism which is essential to drive one’s abilities as a homebrewer.  So while I’ve linked to his bread recipe, definitely check out his other recipes and posts!

Alex’s Spent Grain recipe:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 cups spent grain
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted)
  • 1 cup milk

In the picture I’ve included as a thumbnail and here in the post, you can see how awesome this bread is.  It’s so moist and flaky, it’s perfect for toast.  Cut thick slices, toast them and slather with butter.  The flavor of the spent grains lends a deeper roasted flavor to the bread that normal bread acquires during baking (though as anyone who’s made homemade bread can attest, it’s damn near impossible to get without a professional oven).  The texture is delicious.  Most spent grain breads don’t grind up the grains before use, and I think Alex is definitely onto something here.  The ground up spent grains add a lot of texture and increase the surface area, which means they’ll add more flavor and absorb more moisture than the intact husks.  It also means that you’re adding a lot of dietary fiber, but you don’t have to deal with those annoying giant grains in your teeth, or you don’t end up chewing constantly, trying to mash down the large husks into manageable pieces.  In the end, if I save grains for bread, I’m absolutely following this recipe, and I highly recommend it for you as well.  It’s a dense, tasty bread that’s great for a breakfast option, or just to chow down on, on its own.  Enjoy!

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