Whenever you brew beer at home, you're left over with a pile of grains that have had the majority of their sugars extracted. What do you do with them? You could throw them out, or throw them in the compost, but there's a much better option: make bread out of them! Spent grains add a great texture and slightly sweet, malty flavor to your home made bread.
Using a modified version of my Grandma's bread recipe, you can bake a great tasting bread using these spent grains. It's incredibly simple and easy, and the most amazing bread you'll ever taste. Baking bread can seem daunting to the beginner, but it's really very simple, and worth it if only for that fresh baked bread smell permeating your house!
Step 1: Ingredients and Tools
This is a simple bread, and besides the grains it requires nothing special:
- 1 Egg
- 1 Cup powdered milk (one liquid cup, not a cup of powder) prepared with hot water
- 2 1/4 Cups Flour
- 1 Cup spent grains, leftover from brewing beer
- 1 Tablespoon bread yeast
- 1/4 Cup warm water
- 1/4 Cup softened butter (Grandma said this MUST be real butter, no margarine!)
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1/3 Cup sugar
- Shortening (for greasing pans)
- Some extra flour (for kneading)
- Large mixing bowl
- Clean dish towel
- Mixing spoon
- A clean section of countertop (for kneading)
Step 2: Proof the Yeast
First off, the yeast must be activated, or "Proofed."
Add the warm water and milk to a bowl, and check the temperature. The bread yeast package should tell you how hot it needs to be (usually around 125F or about 50C). When it's at the right temperature, add the yeast.
Let this sit, covered by a damp towel, for about five or ten minutes. By that point, the yeast should have activated and began to bubble.
Step 3: Add the Rest of the Ingredients
Stir the sugar, salt, butter, and egg into the activated yeast. Add the spent grains after that, followed by the flour.
Mix that thoroughly, and cover it with a damp towel. Leave that for 1 hour in a warm place for the yeast to start their work.
Since I am secretly Ebenezer Scrooge, my house is often too cold for the bread to rise. My solution is to turn the oven on low, crack the door a bit, and set the bowl on the edge of the stove.
Step 4: Knead the Dough
Kneading the dough (stretching and folding it by hand) helps to add texture and stability to the bread. This step is a bit imprecise, largely due to the vagueness of my Grandma's recipe.
On a clean section of counter, spread some flour. Scrape your dough out of the bread bowl onto the flour, and sprinkle some more on top--this is a fairly runny recipe, so don't worry too much about overdoing it. The worse that will happen is your bread might end up a bit crumbly.
Fold, stretch, fold, stretch. Add some more flour. Here's the really imprecise bit: do it until the dough seems good. It will still be kind of sticky, but after kneading for 10 minutes or so, it's probably ready. There isn't a hard and fast rule about how much to knead this dough, just do it until you feel good about it, it'll probably be fine!
Step 5: Allow the Bread to Rise
Grease a couple of bread pans (or a tray, if you're making rolls). I doubled the recipe when I took the pictures, so I ended up with enough for two decent loaves and a tray of rolls.
Fill the bread pan about 1/3 to 1/2, or make 1-2 inch balls for rolls. Lightly flour everything to keep things from sticking.
Cover the pans with a damp towel, and let them rise about an hour in the pan.
At this point, you should preheat the oven to 350 F (about 180 C).
Step 6: Bake!
Put the bread on the center rack. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown.
Step 7: Eat!
Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes, then dig in! I like it really fresh, with some butter melted on top!
Step 8: Final Thoughts
Thanks for reading! This kind of bread is one of my favorite treats. I really enjoy it in the mornings as breakfast, or as a late night snack. Or for lunch with peanut butter. Or with dinner as a side. Or a midmorning snack. Okay, what I'm saying is a really love this bread!
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Finally, if you should bake your own spent grain bread, post a picture in the comments below, and I'll send you a digital patch and a three month pro membership!