I’m lucky enough to have a co-worker who brews his own beer… but not for the reason you may immediately think.
Lucky because whenever he makes a fresh batch, he gives me his spent grain – what’s left of the grain after the beer-making process. Here’s what it looks like:
That bag was from a batch of oatmeal stout – it’s a little darker than the usual grains he gives me…. and it made a GREAT batch of bread. Spent grain bread is incredibly healthy, and this recipe produces a slightly-sweet bread (from the honey) with a nice, deep bread flavor (from the soaker and biga). It’s more dense than the average white loaf, but still manages to have a great soft texture.
This recipe makes 2 loaves – I kept one at home and brought the other one into work for a Thanksgiving potluck – it got rave reviews and went very very quickly!
If you’re going to make it, keep in mind that it’s a 2-day process, so you’ll need to plan ahead.
Spent Grain Bread
adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads
454g (1lb) white whole wheat flour
8g (1 teaspoon) salt
1 1/2 cups water
Mix all ingredients until flour is completely hydrated. Cover and let it sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Then, put it in the refrigerator, where it can stay for up to 3 days.
454g (1lb) white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
Make a well in the flour. Pour the water into the well and then sprinkle the yeast into the water. Mix the water, gradually drawing in the flour until it is fully hydrated. Once you have a ball of dough, knead it in the bowl with wet hands for about 2 minutes. Be careful not to add too much extra water to the dough.
Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, and then knead again by hand for about one minute. This time, the dough will be slightly easier to work with (but still very sticky). Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Here’s my soaker and biga, on day 2. (soaker is on the left):
(Remove the biga from the refrigerator about 2 hours before starting to mix the final dough)
225g spent grain
113g all-purpose flour
10g (2 1/4 teaspoon) salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant dry yeast
85g (4 1/2 teaspoons) honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
Using a bench scraper, chop the soaker and biga into about 12 smaller pieces each. Sprinkle some extra flour to keep them from sticking to each other. Hydrate the yeast in a little warm water (just enough to form a thick paste). Add to the biga and soaker pieces along with the remaining ingredients. Mix with a spoon or knead with wet hands for a few minutes to evenly distribute all ingredients. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface (it will be very sticky). Knead for 3-4 minutes – it will be difficult to work with, but resist the urge to add too much flour (you don’t want the finished loaf to be too dense). Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the counter for 5 minutes.
Knead the dough again for about a minute. Place it into a lightly oiled bowl, covering it in oil on all sides. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes.
Once risen, divide the dough in two using a bench scraper. Form into two loaves. Cover loosely and let rise for an additional 45 to 60 minutes.
Before going into the oven… The recipe didn’t tell me to slash the loaves – but I did anyway.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Add a steam pan to the oven. When you put the bread into the oven, add a cup of water to the pan and shut the door. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes. Then rotate the bread and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
Cool on wire rack (don’t cut into it for at least 1 hour).