Spent Grain Part I: No Knead Bread

So, Bill is the bread master at our house. I can make it, and it’s good, but it’s his joy and he’s phenomenal at it.

Mostly, he makes the basic recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.1 This year, he’s decided is the year he’s really tackling bread-making.

He’s experimented a bit over the last couple of years with the basic recipe. Amusingly, mostly experiments that his imagination has come up with. I don’t believe we’ve ever made a recipe that’s from the book beyond the basic recipe.

This was no exception. Except that it’s 100% my fault. Mostly because I got into brewing beer again while you guys weren’t looking, and I now have brewer’s spent grain (BSG) around the house. I wanted to save it for baking, but one and only time I’ve brewed so far was right before we went on a work trip. I’d almost tossed it when Bill asked me to save it for bread. I froze it, then figured out what to do with it. From there, this resulted.

If only I'd edited out that plant. This would be high art!

Instead of a recipe, I’m just going to give you some basic thoughts. The recipe is in the first link above. We swapped out 1/2 c of the flour for spent grain flour, which amounts to 1/13 of the total flour. Everything else was the same.

So, to do this, we first had to dry the grain. In our low-humidity house, this was pretty easy. We put it in the oven at 170F for as long as we could, but when we had to leave the place, we turned the oven off and let it continue to dry. Because we had a lot of back and forth, this was a few days. We got these numbers from this recipe for spent grain flour over at Brooklyn Brewshop’s site.

Once it came time to process it from dry grain into flour, though, we debated. I was going to go for quite fine, he felt it should be pretty coarse. We split the difference, sort of.

In fact, the coarse is, I think, not as coarse as he wanted.

The fine isn’t as fine as I was expecting.

No matter, they’re both awesome. I’ve made some pumpkin bread with the fine (I’ll report back on that in a few weeks), and we have been using the coarse as the flour for the no knead.

The dough is simply gorgeous. First “multigrain” bread that’s ever been appealing to me in my life.

And the finished product is also delightful. A lovely brown color, presumably from the roasted barley (I’d made a stout), with flecks of a lot of grains. Chewy, crusty, so good.

It seems to stale faster and perk up less well than other bread. I think this a hydration issue, but I’m not sure. Basically, I think the spent grain can absorb more water from the surrounding air than the white flour it substituted.

Reading over the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day links, I realize Bill and I have been doing a few things “wrong” in our bread making. So we’ll be experimenting with this further. And, honestly, I’m not going to only brew stouts, so there’ll be reports, likely, on if one kind of beer’s grain is better than another kind of beer’s grain.

Finally, and most importantly, come back on Friday. I’m going to be writing up a fascinating literature review I read in the Journal of Cereal Science about uses for spent grain. It’s honestly surprisingly interesting.

1 There’s actually a newer version of the book than the one I linked to, but I always try to link to the actual book we have when discussing challenge recipes or anything similar enough.