Brendan got into homebrewing last year, and he's quite good at it. Sometimes I help out on brew day, so I know the basics now, but it's mostly his domain. We didn't brew during the holidays to save money, but we got back into it last weekend and brewed 5 gallons of rich stout. For this style we had some sweet and dark specialty grains left over, perfect for baking. You can do a number of things with spent grain such as adding it to compost, making granola, pizza crust, cookies, dog biscuits or other animal treats, and of course... bread!
Artisan Bread with Spent Grains
Ingredients (makes three 9-inch-long loaves):
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
- 3/4 cup filtered water (at room temperature)
- 3/4 cup spent grain
- 1/2 tsp active yeast
- 4 cups unbleached bread flour
- 1 cup beer (or filtered water)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp salt
Making the Bread Starter (Pre-ferment)
**Note: You'll want to do this step the night before you want to bake the bread, or at least 8 hours in advance.
Combine the yeast and water in a bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the flour to the spent grain (it’s best to do this right after brewing so the grain is still moist), then stir in the yeast solution. Mix everything together with a spatula until combined into a wet dough, then cover the bowl with lightly oiled plastic wrap and leave it out on the counter overnight to ferment.
Making the Dough
Transfer the starter (which should have increased in size overnight) to the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine the flour, beer or water, honey, and salt with the starter. Using the dough hook attachment on low speed, mix the dough for 10-12 minutes. If it’s sticking to the sides, or has a gluey consistency, add more flour 2 tbsp at a time until it stops sticking.
After mixing, set the dough aside in a bowl that’s been lightly oiled, cover it with plastic wrap, and leave it for 2-3 hours more.
Preheat oven to 450° F, and place a metal baking tray or pan on the lowest rack (this needs to get really hot for steaming, which I'll get to in a moment).
Now that the dough has increased in size again, remove it from the bowl and place it on a floured counter top or flat work surface. Roll the dough out with a floured rolling pin (it's good to put some flour on your hands as well) and divide it into three equal sections.
Re-flour your work surface and flatten out each section into an approximate rectangle about ½ inch thick. Roll up each of the rectangular dough sections into cylinders, pinching together the ends and the seam (the seam will be the bottom of the loaf), and make three scores (slashes) across the tops with a knife. Lightly grease 3 loaf pans -or a baking sheet or stone- and place in the rolled dough.
In order to get soft bread, you'll want to introduce steam into your oven during the baking process. Here's a short video on some different steaming methods. We use the simple metal pan + water method. The pan that's been getting heated with the oven should be ready to go, so keep a pitcher of water on hand and pour it on the hot pan when you need the oven to get steamy— we do it as we're putting the bread into the oven and again when we rotate the pans during the baking process.
Bake the loaves for 15 minutes, then rotate the pans, add more steam, and bake for another 15 minutes. A finished loaf should be golden-to-dark brown on top. If you’re new to baking bread, you may want to cut one of the loaves open to check that the middle has baked through (to be honest, we usually still do this).
Let the loaves cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes and serve!