01 Feb 2010 @ 7:59 AM 
 

Homebrew: Making Bread with Spent Grain

 

I’m a big fan of using every part of the buffalo, as it were. I try to recycle my brew water (especially in the summer months) and be as eco-friendly as possible. My spent-grain goes directly into my compost pile so that it can go right back into a garden somewhere, but sometimes it seems a shame to let microbes and other beasties get all that great grain when I could be eating it, myself. So I make bread.

It’s a lot like brewing, really. I mix up water and grain, I add yeast and patience, and in the end I come up with something awesome that I can consume.

It’s taken me quite a few tries to come up with a good recipe for bread with spent grain. Since the spent grain is so wet it’s easy to make a loaf that is cooked solid on the outside but still pretty much raw dough on the inside. It can also make a huge difference in the composition of your bread; it’s rather hearty – after all, the grain is only crushed not milled – if you add too much it can be incredibly dense and chewy. So, since I’ve gotten this down to a recipe I enjoy, I’ll share it with you.

Caveat: I tend toward artisanal free-form loaves, rather than something in some sort of fancy pan. I like my bread rustic and chewy. On the other hand, that’s really easy to make. Here’s the deal (all these photos are clickable, if you want a closer look):

3 1/2 cups of flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup of spent grain
1/4 tsp of kosher salt
1 tbsp bread yeast

Put all that in a bowl.

Ingredients

Add 1 1/4 cups of lukewarm water. Mix it. There. Bread dough. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

You know all that stuff that your grandmother does with putting yeast in a cup and letting it soak to make sure it’s going before adding it to the bread? Yes, she’s making a starter. Never thought about it that way, did you? Well don’t worry about that. Bread yeast science has gone through just as many leaps and jumps forward as beer yeast science has. Unless you’re using yeast that’s as old as your grandmother, just stick it in the bowl and mix the whole thing together. I have a Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook and it is my friend. If you don’t have one, switch arms so you don’t look like Popeye from one side.

The dough - pre-rise.

It makes a pretty wet dough, but not so wet as to be soupy. It needs to be firm enough that you can shape it later, but not too firm or it’ll be a rock later. It’s not going to be a pretty ball of dough that you can knead. It’s a sticky mess. That’s okay. You also don’t have to knead dough to make awesome bread. Now that you’ve got that sticky lump in the bottom of your bowl, just cover it up with something breathable like a kitchen towel and leave it for a few hours.

Letting the dough rise.

I find that the top of my kegerator works quite well because in the meantime I also get to have a beer. You want to let the dough rise for at least 2 hours, until it’s flat on top.

The dough: risen.

That is dough that is ready for action. If, at this point, you’re having a busy day and you have something else to do, this is a good stopping point. Just throw the dough into some tupperware and throw it in the fridge. It’ll keep in there for up to a week. If you do end up refrigerating it, just take some extra time on the next step.

Preheat your oven to 425F. If you can, use a pizza stone. If you don’t have one, a cookie sheet will do, but you may want to lightly grease it and dust it with flour. If you have a broiling pan, put it in on a rack below your pizza stone (or below where you’ll put the cookie sheet). We’re going to actually steam-cook the loaf.

You want to take that sticky mess of a dough (throw some extra flour on it so it’s not as sticky) in your hands and shape it into a loaf. Keep on adding flour to the outside of it as you form it in your hands to keep it from sticking to you. You can make a big round boule, if you want. This time, I went for the oblong loaf. Go ahead and place it on a pizza peel that’s been dusted with corn meal. If you’re using a cookie sheet, throw a little corn meal on there, too, and go ahead and stick the dough on it.

The dusted loaf (great name for an artisanal bakery)

You want to let the loaf rise at least as long as it takes for the oven to heat up. 20 – 30 minutes. Longer, if you’re working with cold dough. After it’s risen, use a serrated knife to cut a few slashes in the top of the loaf or maybe a scallop or an X or whatever you want and then slide it carefully into the oven onto your hot pizza stone (totally not a euphemism).

Pour about a cup of regular tap water into the broiling pan. The water will evaporate during cooking and help caramelize the outside surface of the bread. It’s the secret to a nice chewy, flavorful crust.

In the oven

Let it bake for 35 – 45 minutes. The top should be golden-to-dark brown, and if you tap the loaf it should sound hollow.

Fresh out of the oven

Remove the bread from the oven when you deem that it is finished, but allow it to cool before cutting into it for best results. In the first few minutes after you take the bread from the oven you should be able to hear it cracking as the caramelized crust contracts. That’s how you know you’ve got the dial set to awesome.

Full admission – my sister-in-law got me a really misleadingly named book about making bread a few years ago, and I’ve been a full convert ever since – this recipe is not from there, but I made it following the theories and basic recipes from this book. It is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and I still use it pretty much constantly.

If you try this recipe out, let me know how you like it.

Tags Tags: , , , ,
Categories: homebrew
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 01 Feb 2010 @ 09 46 AM

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Responses to this post » (54 Total)

 
  1. Kevin says:

    I now feel like an idiot for not getting some spent grains from you yesterday. That looks fantastic.

  2. erik says:

    And that was rising in my kitchen while you were shoveling crap off my deck!

  3. christopher says:

    I love the idea but I’m having trouble accepting that I can only use a few oz out of many lbs of spent grain (SG). Have you tried anything else with them? I’m pretty excited to test out growing mushrooms on SG (spent mushroom cakes can then be composted or fed to livestock in an easier to digest form). I also want to try blending the SG into a paste before making dough or pasta to hopefully up the SG content. Lastly I’m thinking of using it as a filler in brats, sausages, haggis…Prolly won’t work but its worth a try.

  4. erik says:

    I haven’t tried much else. I can tell you that if you put in more spent grain than this, you get some pretty damn chewy bread and the husks are pretty evident. With this concentration, you get flavor and some chewiness, but it’s still a nice bread with a good creamy custard.

    There are recipes for dog biscuits out there that I’ve thought about trying.

    I love the idea of growing mushrooms on spent grain. I think that’s an awesome idea. I wouldn’t even know where to start, though.

    I have thought about drying and milling the grain in order to make flour – paste for pasta is also a good idea. The problem (for me, anyway) is that these are all time-intensive and that’s the one commodity I don’t have much of.

    Bread I can do. Composting I can do.

    I think you should explore all of this and then let me know how it all works and I will SEND you spent grain if you need it. :)

  5. notaro says:

    great post!

    now I’m hungry

  6. I need to start doing this. The loaf looks really nice and rustic.

  7. erik says:

    I’m still eating sandwiches made with it today. So good.

  8. josh says:

    I squeezed (squoze? – haha) the wet grains to get the liquid, heated it quickly in the microwave and used it for the warm water – I think it added a bit to the flavor/sweetness (I tried a control group with water to compare)

    Thanks for sharing – the bread is delicious!!

  9. erik says:

    Hey – that’s a great idea! I’ll give that a shot next time I brew.

  10. mike says:

    I have heard of people making dog bisquits with spent grains. Haven’t tried it myself, but may do it on my next brew. In the meantime, I feed the spent grains to my father-in-law’s chickens. They love it!

  11. [...] to use some yeast from my recent porter for a pizza crust in the near future.  Incidentally, Erik at Top Fermented detailed how he uses spent grains for baking bread as well.  It seems that beer and bread are [...]

  12. Eric says:

    Just made this after brewing a bourbon vanilla porter. Came out great! Had to add about a half cup of extra water.

    • Antonio says:

      I know that feeling all too well. I burn the life out of gailrc bread and have been banned from using the oven for life. :) Luckily, my 16-year old daughter is a great cook, so between her and hubby they keep us all well fed.

  13. platypotamus says:

    many thanks for sharing the recipe, man. made some damn fine tasty bread with the spent grains from my porter last weekend. photo

    cheers.

  14. kara says:

    thanks for the recipe! made it today with used grains from a belgian my husband made this afternoon! twas a hit. thanks!

  15. erik says:

    Awesome! I especially like it, lately, when I’ve been brewing with rye.

    Yesterday, I threw a bunch of fresh rosemary and shredded cheese into the dough and it was delicious.

  16. Brett says:

    Awesome! I tried this over the weekend, but used slightly more grain (2/3 cup). It turned out a little doughy on the bottom, but nothing that a little extra baking time can’t fix. Overall flavor and texture was beautiful. And I loved hearing that crackling crust! Great overview. Thanks so much for sharing!

  17. Sage says:

    Brewed Chocolate Porter this weekend and thought I’d try to make bread w/the spent mash. Came out awesome! I used a full cup of the grain (took 1/2 cup and turned it to powder w/the coffee grinder). I did have to add 1/2 cup extra water. The bread is beautiful; a nice hearty artisan loaf. Cooked evenly in 35min.

    Thanks for posting this!

  18. Cami says:

    I made this today and it turned out perfect! One question though. Am I reading the amounts correctly?
    3 1/2 cups of flour
    1/4 to 1/2 cup of spent grain
    1/4 tsp of kosher salt
    1 tbsp bread yeast
    1 1/4 cup lukewarm water

    I followed your instructions but my Kitchen Aid mixed the ingredients together into a firm ball of dough. I decided to add another 1/2-3/4 cup of water to make it sticky like your picture. After it had risen I kneaded some flour into it while I shaped it until it held its shape and wasn’t so sticky.

    Other than my original confusion, this was the easiest (and best) bread I have ever made! Thanks for sharing!

  19. erik says:

    Hey Cami -

    That’s about right, but yes – measurements will change depending a little on your ingredients: like how wet the spent grains are or even the protein content of the flour.

    You know bread.. it’s a lot less about recipe and a lot more about look and feel. If you got it looking right and it came out tasting right, then you got it. :)

  20. Big John says:

    Excellent recipe and mine turned out great. I originally wanted to dump all my spent grains in the mix, but I see what you mean by saying it would make a very dense and chewy loaf. Looking forward to making another loaf tonight!

  21. Chris says:

    Great recipe. Thank you. Loaf just came out and it is beautiful! And it smells better than it looks! I can’t wait for it to cool enough for me to slice in to it.

  22. Becca says:

    I’ve been baking the bread from the Artisan Bread in 5 Mins book and having great results. AND my husband homebrews. This is SO perfect. He’s brewing tomorrow and I’m going to try your recipe. Thank you for this!!

  23. dustbreather says:

    just made this recipe today from grain used in a porter – WOW – awesome results

    now i am going to have to find that book…

  24. Matt Dianich says:

    Nice work, man. Made this recipe yesterday from a batch of my Ass-Blackwards American IPA. Used 4:1 flour:grain (3:1 to start and a cup throughout the dough hook dance in the KitchenAid mixer), and added 1 tsp of agave nectar and it turned out amazing. I searched for a while and always ended up coming back to this page. Simple. Occam’s Razor style. I like it. And the euphmism.

  25. Jamie says:

    Hi, and thanks for the recipe! I’m a lean dough baker and struggled to find a recipe that didn’t add milk, sugar and eggs to it – that, in my mind, is how you make cakes not bread. Anyway, a couple of tips that might improve your load;
    If your dough is sticking to your work surface you could oil (or Pam) your worksurface and make sure you have a bowl of water next to it – if it starts to stick to your hands just dip your hands in the water. This way you won’t be adding more flour to your bread and you will get a better rise.
    You’re right that kneading isn’t strictly necessary, unless you need (resisted the pun) to save time. You can use the stretch and fold technique to build the gluten which will allow it to hold it’s shape and rise when you bake it.
    Instead of doing all white flour try using say 60% white, 30% wholewheat and 10% rye flour. Let it cool completely before spread butter or pork fat on it, then try not to eat the whole loaf!
    Thanks again for a great recipe- keep up the brewing and the baking!
    Jamie

  26. Jamie says:

    Oh, btw, I did this with a mash from a carrot beer. The bread was so good we ate a loaf for breakfast then sold the rest at the farmers market – so our customers thank you too!

  27. [...] use of spent grain and yeast from brewing (bread, pizza dough, flour, dog biscuits, bird feeders, [...]

  28. Margot says:

    This recipe looks a lot easier than most of the other ones I have found – - hope to make it today! Quick question though – - only 1/4 tsp of kosher salt? Seems like a lot less salt than the other recipes I have found…
    Thanks!

  29. Whitney says:

    This was easy and tasted great. Thanks for the recipe! It doesn’t use enough to use all of our grains but it does alleviate some of the guilt of just throwing them away. Didn’t think about selling it at the Farmer’s Market though- thats a pretty fabulous idea!

  30. [...] recipe from Top Fermented  Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); [...]

  31. [...] Knead Bread recipe.  But I have neither the space or the dutch oven for it.  I considered using this one, but then thought “wait, I can make bread, why not just add spent grain to my existing [...]

  32. bimmers says:

    great recipe, thank you! ( Please remember that dogs can not have hops so make sure it’s just grains in the mash for when making the dog biscuits.)

  33. Tanya says:

    Last night, my husband and a friend of ours were making their homebrew and I asked about the spent grain – our friend was like “people make bread with the leftovers” – I was like AWESOME! Looked up some recipes, yours seemed the best overall. I made the dough this morning and let it rise and baked 2 small loaves. SO AWESOME! Thanks for the great recipe and pictures!

    • Mel says:

      concerns Facebook, in which he links to a really innerestitg infographic from Shoshable entitled, A world without Facebook and then connects this to a rather remarkable passage from the Bahai text, Century of Light:

  34. Matt Hayes says:

    This is such a wonderful and simple recipe. I made my first loaf of this style of bread a few weeks ago using grains from an IPA and then today I made one using grains from a smoky porter and I added a couple tablespoons of molasses and a bit of extra grain in exchange for less flour. I know the loaf will be dense, but I want it that way. Also, I added about a quarter cup of wort back to the grain after I brewed the beer a few days ago, so I wouldn’t have to add as much plain water.

    • AUTHENTIC SPINACH PIE 2 lbs. fresh spinach1 lb. Feta chseee1/2 lb. (8 oz.) cream chseee (frozen slightly)4 eggs, separate beat whites until foamy add yolks1/4 c. cream of wheat1 lb. Ricotta chseee1 bunch green onions (include green tops), chopped1 lb. phyllo dough1 lb. rendered butter (must be butter)Salt and pepper to tasteTo render, place over low heat until butter separates, use clear butter.Wash spinach well. Roll up in terry towel and squeeze until dry. Tear into small pieces in large salad bowl. Add slightly frozen cream chseee that has been sliced in thin slices. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.Grease 11 17 pan lightly with rendered butter. Place 1/2 pound of phyllo dough in pan one sheet at a time, brushing each sheet with melted butter before adding another sheet. After you have layered 1/2 pound of dough then add remaining 1/2 pound of phyllo dough one layer at a time, brushing each layer with tendered butter. Cut pit into squares before baking, brushing top with remaining butter. Bake 350 degrees for one hour. Do not microwave.

  35. Jason Warner says:

    I made this bread tonight, baked it on the bbq and it turned out great. Thanks for the recipe! My wifes only request was that next time i make it a bit more savoury, do you think that adding more salt would achieve this result?

  36. JamesH says:

    Just made this. Was super simple and turned out real well.

    Not sure if I could have done better. Didn’t seem to rise much so it’s a little dense, but I like that. Maybe my dough was too dry.

  37. Smaragda says:

    I made bread from this recipe twice already. Both times I prepared it in the bread machine and I took it out to bake it in the oven. Both times I used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour. The second time I increased the salt to 1/4 tsp. It turned out wonderfully. I like it because it is dense.

  38. [...] is a great site the shows you how to make bread using spent grain.  It is so simple and delicious!  I have made it a few times and each time I make it, I make it a [...]

  39. Jake, eh says:

    Super delicious! I love my 5 minutes a day book, so I was so happy you used the same technique. It was great straight out of the oven with some butter & honey. Thanks!

  40. [...] Some use spent grain as a culture for growing mushrooms, to make ethanol, or to make bread. [...]

  41. Charlayna says:

    I’ve made this recipe countless times now. I prefer to add 1 cup of grain, mostly because I like the extra nuttiness and crunch from them! I’m currently making a batch into mini rolls (3 loaves worth of dough gave me 16 rolls, so they’re not that mini…) of breakfast bread–basically my take on a cinnamon-raisin bread.

    They definitely smell amazing, I guess I’ll know tomorrow morning how they turned out! Oh, and I’m using grains from a brown ale (bucksnort brown, I believe). Also, I never put in the salt. I don’t think I ever noticed it in the recipe (found this in October, 2011), but I don’t miss it…

  42. Reagan says:

    By far the easiest and most flexible recipe I’ve come across for spent grain bread! Have tried everything from a dense coffee stout mix to a lighter straight forward 2-row amber base. Recommend mixing in a small amount of whole wheat flour, and fresh herbs (rosemary garlic or basil thyme for example) go perfectly. Beyond the large loafs this dough works great for sandwich buns (smoked pork shoulder and slaw…yum) and dinner rolls and finished products freeze very well….thank you for posting as I had so much extra grain after pretzels lol

  43. Jason says:

    How long can I keep the SG after brewing and before baking bread? I just brewed beer on a Tuesday, but I won’t have time to bake bread until the weekend. Will in keep in the fridge that long? Or maybe I should freeze it?

  44. Elizabeth says:

    Do you think we could do this with beer yeast rather than bread yeast?

  45. Amie says:

    Thanks for this super easy recipe! I used 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups of unbleached white, and I’m thrilled with how it turned out. Excellent!

  46. [...] of another homebrewer, I learned that a little goes a long way. Do yourself a favor and save Erik’s spent grain bread recipe for [...]

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