Monday, September 17, 2012

I Tried Making Spent Grain Bread

Several years ago, DH found a recipe for bread using the 'spent grains' leftover from making wort when you are doing all grain brewing (as opposed to using powdered malt or liquid malt in a can).  We've done all grain brewing for, hmm let me think back, six or seven years now.  Usually we let the grains cool after mashing and sparging, then feed them to the chickens.

This weekend, however, after DH was done sparging, I dug up that bread recipe, and gave it a try.

Let me say here and now that this post will not contain that recipe for you to make in your own home.  Because it's not quite right.  I read through it, thought it sounded a bit off on some of the ingredients and the baking temperature but followed it to the letter anyway.  That's what I do when I try a new recipe: make it exactly as told.  It's after than initial test batch that I begin tweaking.  And this one definitely needs some tweaking.  Someday, in the future (after the next batch of homebrew when I have spent grains again. . .) I'll give you the improved recipe.  But for now, you just get to hear my foray into making spent grain bread.

First, I didn't think the amount of yeast sounded sufficient.  But I followed the recipe anyway, using the small amount called for.  The dough took forever and a day (okay, over an hour and a half) to double in size.

Once it had finally swelled to the correct size, I punched it down and divided in two--the recipe didn't really say to divide, but referred to baking "loaves" not "loaf", so I inferred I should divide it. Each dough ball I shaped roughly into loaf form, and put on a greased cookie sheet. Given the lack of rapid growth on the first rise, I elected to not place my loaves into 9" x 5" x 3" bread pans, but make flatter 'artisan bread' shaped loaves.

These I covered with a cloth and let rise.  For some reason, the loaves doubled in size in about half an hour versus the hour and a half plus it took on the first rise.  No, my kitchen was not warmer then, in fact, given that the first rise happened next to the stove while I was cooking dinner and the second rise happened on the island (more room for the cookie sheet), I'd wager the immediate area of the dough was a bit cooler on the second rise.

Okay, whatever, I can go with it.  So I heated the oven to the prescribed temp of 375 degrees (hmm, all my other yeast bread recipes go on 400 or 425. . . ) and then baked the loaves on the bottom rack of the oven for 35 minutes.

Tapping the top of the loaves, they gave that familiar 'thunk' of cooked bread ready to come of out of the oven, and had a golden brown crust.  So I took them out and set them on a cooling rack to cool.

Crust much more golden in person than it looks in this picture!  
(Darn lighting anyway. . . )

Verdict upon slicing the mostly cooled bread: very dense, and chewy, but almost doughy/gooey still inside.  Delicious flavor, and definitely edible.  I'm thinking next time, though, I'll increase the baking temperature up to at least 400 and decrease the baking time accordingly (25-30 minutes total).

DH decided it wasn't really something he wanted to eat as toast or as bread and butter.  Which meant I now had to figure out how to use two loaves of yummy but gooey bread.  Here's what I came up with:

tomato cheese 'bruschetta'!

Thick slice (at least 1" thick) the spent grain bread, top with swiss or provolone cheese, and add sliced tomatoes fresh from the garden.  Broil for approx. 3 minutes.  MMMMMMM!

All we have left now is half of one loaf of bread.  :0)

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