Spent Grain Sesame Bread




Using spent grains from the beer brewing process for baking bread.

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Step 1: Ingredients

Baking bread with spent grains, requires you to get spent grains from somewhere. If you're not in the lucky position to be a all grain homebrewer like me and many others around the world, you might consider becoming one. It's very rewarding.
Let's get serious again. If you know a homebrewer, ask him or go to a brew pub or a microbrewery. You could ask in a homebrew supply shop as well.
For two breads, you need something in the range of 1-2 cups wet spent grains. I dried two cookie trays about half a inch thick. This will be enough for 5-6 breads. I set the oven to 100C / 212F first to let it dry. This takes a couple of hours with a spoon in the oven door to let the moisture out. Next time, i will let it dry under the sun to conserve energy.
When it's dry, i raise the temperature to 170C / 340 F for around 15-30 minutes to roast it a little bit. Maybe it's a good idea to take some of the unroasted grains to compare the color. Just roast it lightly, otherwise it will get burnt and bitter.
As a next step, i ground up the dried spent grains a little bit. Otherwise, there are whole husks in your bread and they will stick between your teeth.

spent grains 50g / 1.8 oz

sesame seeds 50g / 1.8 oz

bread flour 500g / 17.6 oz / 1.1 lb

active dried yeast 1-2g / 15-30 Grains (0.5-1 teaspoon)

salt 16g / 0.56 oz (2.5 teaspoons)

water 390ml / 13.2 fl oz

I also roasted the sesame seeds a little bit in order to enhance the flavour. As you can see on the pictures, the roasting darkened the seeds only slightly. (Roasting nuts, grains and seeds enhances the flavour in cooking and baking. The seeds, that are on the crust get roasted while baking, but the crumb won't get hotter than 100C / 212F so they don't roast)
Try to get your hands on a strong gluten-rich bread flour, you can look for a 11-13% protein content.

Step 2: Making the Preferment

Making a preferment enhances the flavour, the texture, the keeping quality of a bread and it helps to soak the dried spent grains.(Or other coarsly ground grains and dry ingredients)
This preferment is a so called "poolish", it's a yeast only preferment. Most preferments use a mixture of yeast and lactic and acetic bacteria, but these are called sourdoughs.
If you want to go deeper into the details, i can recommend 2 books in english. One is "Bread" by Jeffrey Hamelman, the other is "Crust and Crumb" by Peter Reinhart.
I intend to do a instructable on the topic later on, but anyone really interested should consider one of these books.

Since i'm somewhat lazy, i use a bread maker to mix, knead and ferment most small batch doughs. (Mine works up to around 500g / 1lb flour)
But of course you can mix the ingredients with a spoon and knead the dough by hand. That's how i started as well. Later i used a hand mixer with kneading hooks. After breaking a couple of those hooks, i got a Kenwood kitchen machine. It kneads up to 1500g / 3lb flour doughs and is very sturdy.

Add the spent grains the sesame seeds and half the flour 250g / 8.8 oz into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over it and add the lukewarm water to it.
Stir it with a spoon or a hand mixer on low speed until evenly distributed. I start the bread machine on the Pizza setting, on this setting it starts to stir instantly. I let it stir for 5 minutes or so. The consistency of the preferment is batter-like.
If you want to use your bread maker, you have to look up the right program.

Now you have to let it ferment for 6 to 18 hours, depending on temperature it will start to bubble in around 2 hours. While fermenting, you have to cover your bowl with plastic wrap, otherwise a skin would form where the surface dries out.

Step 3: Finishing and Kneading the Dough

In this step you will add the remaining half of the flour and the salt.
Then you have to mix and knead it.
By hand, be prepared to knead it for 12 to 15 minutes. With a mixer or kitchen machine with kneading hooks, 8 to 10 minutes on low to medium speed will be enough. For those of you with a food processor, mix the ingredients with a few short bursts, then wait a couple minutes then mix / knead it for no longer than a minute.(Imho these devices are suboptimal for kneading bread doughs.)
With my bread maker, i let the whole pizza program run. I takes 45 minutes, kneading time is around 15 minutes but the mechanical kneading action is weaker than on a kitchen machine. But it also heats up the dough to 28C / 83F. This is the optimum fermentation temperature, if you want the fastest possible fermentation.
Now you have to let it ferment until the dough has doubled in size. This takes around 2-3 hours at room temperature. But you can prolong this time by retarding. Retarding is lowering the yeast activity by reducing the dough temperature. In this case i put the dough outside, where the temperature was around 10C / 50F. In 8 hours the dough doubled at this temp.
Of course, you have to cover the dough with plastic wrap as well in this step.

Step 4: Forming the Loaves and Final Proofing

When the dough has doubled, it's time to take it out of your bowl. Put it on a lightly floured working surface to degas. Depending on the desired shape and size, divide the dough and roll the pieces into balls. I my case i made two batard shaped loaves. But you can make round loaves or small rolls. If the dough is too sticky to work, use some more flour on you hands and on the surface, but try to keep it at a minimum.
Put your loaves on cookie paper and cover them with plastic wrap or a damp towel.
Let it proof for at least 1 hour. I let it proof for almost 2 hours, because my dough was rather cool when i formed my loaves.
During the final proofing, you also have to switch on your oven to preheat it. My small electric takes around 30 minutes to heat up properly.
When you're ready to bake, remove the towel or wrap and slash your loaves around half a inch deep with a very sharp knife or a razor blade.

Step 5: Baking

Baking the proofed loaves the right way needs a bit more consideration, than only shoving them into the oven.
First, use a baking / pizza stone of a sort. You could use unglazed spanish tiles, but you can get gaps when they're not aligned nicely or when you move them while shoving the loaves onto them. This helps to heat up the loaves quickly from the bottom. This is important for a good oven spring.

As a next thing, you should have a steam saturated environment during the spring phase of baking. This keeps the surface elastic, since the steam condenses on the cold dough surface and keeps it from drying out too early. There is more than one way to achieve this.

1. Put a heavy skillet on the oven floor, before you preheat the oven. Just before you put the loaves into the oven, add a cup of boiling water into the skillet.
2. Spray the oven walls and the oven floor with a water sprayer, when you put the loaves in. Repeat it after a minute.
3. Buy a oven with integrated steam generator ;-)
4. Use a very small oven, like my small electric one. Sprinkle some water on the cookie sheet and on the loaves. The environment gets moist enough this way.

When the oven has reached the temperature and is steam saturated, i shove in the loaves on the sheet with the cookie tray. Then i let the sheet with the loaves fall on the baking stone by quickly pulling out the tray. Work quickly in order to keep the heat and the steam in the oven.

Start baking rather hot 275C / 530 F, then after about 5 minutes reduce the temperature to 190C / 375F for the rest of the bake. It will take a while for the oven temp to fall, but that's ok.
If you have a oven with a convection function, use it. It helps to heat up the loaves quickly for a nice oven spring and in a even browning of the loaves. If you don't have a convection feature, i'd raise the temp to around 210C / 410F in the second baking phase. And maybe you have to turn the loaves for even browning. Every oven behaves a little different, so you probably need to make some temp adjustments to get optimal results.
Breads of this size need about 35 minutes to bake. The baking time needs to be adjusted for thicker and thinner breads. If your bread gets too dark too early, reduce the temperature.

Final thoughts:
Many things about preferments, long fermentation times and baking are almost universal in making good to outstanding breads.
It takes me a maximum of 10 minutes work to make a delicious plain wheat bread.(cleaning of the equipment included.) The time it takes from start to finish varies from 6 hours(with some shortcuts) to 24 hours with retarding, but it's not much work actually.
This specific bread took a bit more of my time for roasting the sesame and for drying and roasting the spent grains.

I will add another instructable of my favorite plain white bread in the near future. In the meantime some photos of it to make you lick your lips.

Happy baking


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    24 Discussions

    I have made this recipe several times after obtaining some spent grain from a local brewery. It is wonderful, chewy, crusty, delicious! The aroma when it is in the preferment stage is amazing! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I baked this bread last night and it was incredible! I used my bread machine to mix and knead as t.rohner advised and it was incredible easy. I use the no-knead method but with the machine it was just as simple - I used the pizza cycle in both the sponge/starter stage and the kneading and let it run just in the first kneading stage - I also let the rise happen in the machine. It made two large batard loaves with amazing crust (I use a pizza stone, pan of water on the bottom rack and mist several times during the first 5 minutes). I dried and processed (several cups at a time in the food processor) many cups of spent grains from my husband's weekend brew, which are now stored in pre-measured bags in our freezer in preparation for many more loaves. The only thing I will try differently next time is to substitute some of the bread flour for more of the spent grains - starting with 100g.

    Cheers to t. roher for the awesome recipe and extremely complete and easy to follow instructions!

    mr squeaky

    8 years ago on Introduction

    t.rohner, thanks for posting this.

    I tried making this bread and it all worked well - however, after i added the second part of the flour, it was still very runny (too much liquid). I added quite a bit more extra flour (100 - 200g and it stayed very liquidly.

    I was very careful about measuring the exact amounts of ingredents, apart from the yeast (I may have added too much). Could this be a problem?

    Anyway, it was still quite runny when I did the final proofing and it didn't hold its shape (it made cow pat shaped bread!). Despite the shape, it tasted very nice - I think I'm hooked on bread making as well as beer making, thanks to you.

    BTW, I used the spent grain from an Irish Red Ale - it gave the bread the texture of wholemeal bread.

    1 reply
    t.rohnermr squeaky

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hello fellow brewer.

    I just checked the recipe and found, that the water content might indeed be a little high.
    As a rule of thumb, you can say that 60% water makes a rather stiff "dry" dough, 70% makes a slack "wet" dough.
    So for 500g of flour, that's a range from 300-350ml of water.
    Your numbers may vary...

    I sometimes make bread with a water content up to 78%, but this is best kneaded heavily with a machine. The dough needs special handling, I don't degas it and use water on my hands against sticking.
    Then i somehow form it and immediately shove it into a very hot oven, before it can flow to a blob.

    Back to the spent grain bread. If you dried the spent grain, it will take up some water. If i calculate the water takeup the same as for flour, it gives 385ml for 550g at 70%.

    But then, different flours have different water holding capabilities.
    As stated in my "plain bread" instructable, you probably need to reduce the water content. (70ml for 100g of additionally added flour)

    I like breads with a water content at the upper end. It's has a chewier crumb, has a nice crust and a good oven spring. But the dough handling is a sticky business ;-)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    If I had everything I would be baking right now! Thanks for sharing.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I tried this around the time you first published it, but I skipped the preferment. Now that you have convinced me on the preferment, I am going to try it again on my next batch. My old breads actually weren't bad, it just took a bit of experimentation to keep it from being like a brick. I also have switched to all-grain brewing from partial mash and extract since I last used the grains in bread, so I have a lot more grain to get rid of. Thanks! Another idea for spent grains and bread is to take the wet grain and sprinkle it on top of your loaf before you put it into the oven, like you would sesame seeds for example. They get crispy and are kind of nice.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    A preferment is important for a good flavour, but you already found that out. To get a fluffy crumb, just give it a long enough final proof.(60-120 minutes) Doughs with high yeast content, (as recommended on the yeast packets) can also have depleted the available sugars for a decent final proof.(overrisen dough)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Had I read this two hours ago I wouldn't have thrown away the grain from a batch of beer I am brewing this morning.  Oh well next time.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    We just brewed a second batch of  "Berliner Weisse" on saturday. We didn't do it the traditional way. We made a mash on friday evening and after cooling it below 50C added 10% of the grist we held back. This way we added lactic bacteria and let it work overnight.
    Saturday morning we gave the now soured mash another saccarification rest.
    The PH fell from 5.5 on friday to 4.4 on saturday. We boiled it with not much hops and ferment it rather cool.
    We also bottled our first batch on saturday. I think this turns out very refreshing, even now without carbonation and too warm.
    I will go in the woods to collect some woodruff to make sirup. The woodruff sirup will be ready, when our Weisse has conditioned in the bottles.
    I was thinking about brewing a Weisse for quite some time, but i was a bit intimidated by the fact that i need lactos in the fermenter.(HDPE fermenters)
    Then i found this sour mash method somewhere online. I realized, that it fits on our equipement perfectly.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Just made these. I used grain from an imperial stout so the bread ended up brown. I slashed the bread but it didn't turn out like yours after baking. The bread is very dense but looks tasty. It's still hot.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Ok, how did it rise in main fermentation. (Double size is about ok, depending on how much spent grain you added.) Then maybe you should prolong the final proofing another half hour, if it turned out too dense for your taste.
    Do you have a pizza stone of some sort? It's really important to shove it into a very hot oven. The stone makes for a very fast heat transfer to the dough. You also increase the thermal mass of your oven with a stone. This is important to get a good oven spring, before the crust forms. This happens in the frist 2-5 minutes in the oven.

    Imperial stout huh... Mmhh beer... Homer is drooling...

    We just finished our wheat brewing season with a regular blonde wheat, a slightly overhopped (for the style) hop wheat, a raspberry and a sour cherry wheat. Last saturday we started our "Munich Helles" series, my all time favourites. (I'm only two hours away from Munich by car...)
    By the way, do you know "Obatzta". It's a bavarian beer garden treat. Take this as a starting point. Wonderful with homemade pretzels.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I homebrew, so I'm gonna try this. I imagine if you are using grain from a batch of "hop heavy" beer like an IPA, the bread would be rather bitter though. Any thoughts? Great idea, by the way.

    3 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    The bitterness from an IPA comes from the hops not generally the 2 row and crystal grain bill. The only flavoring offsets youd get is if you had a stout grain bill or a porter, where the smoked malts and flavored malts like chocolate, etc may come through. not a bad thing though would taste pretty good i'd imagine!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    How do you brew? Or better asked, do you mash-hop? I read about it, but i have never done it. In my "normal" brewing, the spent grains are separated from the liquids after mashing in the lautering step. Only after this, the hops is added in the boiler. So it won't come in contact with the spent grains. I think it's the same, when you do a partial mash. (I do all grain exclusively) If you don't add the hops to the mash, there is no bitterness in the spent grains.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    In many of the recipes I've used, the flavoring hops are added toward the end of the grain steeping. The aroma hops are added later, after the grains have been removed. I haven't worked my way up to all grain yet, started w/ kits, went to recipes that usually include canned malt & grain. I will be "graduating" to all grain soon. I will definitely try your recipe with the next batch. You can't get much "greener" than that.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This sounds excellent! Fantastic details, and beautiful pictures. I can't wait to try it.

    t.rohnerdan moulton

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    There already is one, search for "How to brew beer". The first in the list is quite a detailed instructable about all grain brewing. In the comments you can see some pictures of our "brewery"...