Making Spent Grain Bread

Living in an urban area can leave a homebrewer with a lot of leftover spent grain, and nothing you can really do with it besides throwing it out. In rural areas you can compost, or give the grains to a local farm, but neither are really do-able in a city. However, you can make bread from a portion of the spent grain, so not all goes to waste. Best of all, making bread from spent grain is an easy and rewarding venture.

Spent Grain Bread Recipe

Yeast Starter Ingredients

• 1 1/4 Cup Warm Water
• 1/4 Cup of Sugar
• 1 Packet of Baker's yeast

Other Ingredients

• 3 Cups Wet Spent Grain
• Flour (as needed)
• 1 Egg (beat)
• 1/4 Cup Milk
• 1 tsp Salt

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Process

1. Mix the three ingredients in the "Bread Yeast Starter" section together, then allow them to sit for up to 30 minutes.

2. Once the yeast is bubbling (around 30 minutes), mix in everything else  (Other ingredients column) except for the flour.

3. After everything is mixed in well, slowly add the flour (about 4-5 cups), kneading it until the dough stops sticking to your hands and begins to form a ball into a ball.

4. Place your kneaded dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel, allowing it to rise for 30 minutes.

5. Once the dough has risen to twice it size, punch it down. This releases the gas created by the yeast. Note: Punching should be more like a push with a fist than an actual "punch".

6. Then split up the dough into the amount of loaves you want to bake and set them up on a baking sheet. Make sure you throw down a layer of fine cornmeal first.

7. Pre-heat your oven to 375F.

8. Allow the loaves to rise again, another 30 minutes. Score them with a knife then bake  for about 30 minutes or until you can stab it and the knife comes out clean.

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Troubleshooting Spent Grain Bread Issues

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• Your spent grains retain moisture so you may need more or less flour than what this, or any other recipe recipe states. So it's important to add the flour incrementally to ensure the right amount is used.

• Keep a bowl of warm water in the oven. This adds some humidity, which keeps you bread from drying out while rising or while baking.

• Don't let the dough rise in the oven (Step 4 above). If your oven exceeds 90F during rising, you risk drying out your dough. (Which when baked leaves you with a tasty, but dense bread)

• Choose a fine coarse cornmeal to layer on your baking pan or just use a better baking pan. This helps keep the bread form becoming hard on the bottom.

• Bake directly on the pan (with cornmeal) for a oval, rustic bread type shape. Let the dough rise (Steps 6-8) and bake in a loaf pan to create a more generic loaf shape for sandwiches and toast.

• Punching vs Folding - The more you punch your dough (Step 5), the denser the final bread will be. If you are going for a more airy approach, punch gently and fold the dough lightly to keep those big air pockets. This will give you a lighter, more airy bread.

• A darker mix of spent grain will bring out darker flavors in the bread.

The bread is hearty, malty and full of flavor. It pairs well with butter, honey, garlic, cheesy soup, salad etc. It also pairs really well with the beer you made the with the grains in the first place. Just freeze them till the beer is ready, then make the bread. This recipe gets a big star for its simplicity. It may be time consuming, but is definitely worth it.

The next time you brew an all-grain batch, save some of the spent grain and give this recipe a shot!

written by Felicia Reninger

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17 comments on “Making Spent Grain Bread”

  • I use my spent grain making dog treats. My two Boxers go through more bisquits than my wife and I go through bread. :)

    Reply
  • This recipe was NOT written by a baker. You shouldn't need any more than 5-15 minutes for a yeast 'starter'...ever. A quarter cup of sugar? Absurd! For this recipe I'd use 1 tablespoon of sugar (white or brown) and 1 tablespoon of salt. The dough should be turned in a bowl with a small amount of olive oil so it covers all sides which prevents the dough from drying during the rise. Grease would not work AT ALL for this purpose. The dough rise would actually be closer to an hour than 30 minutes. Humidity during baking creates a crispy outer crust and has nothing to do with preventing your bread from drying out. You certainly wouldn't "add a bowl" of water to your oven to accomplish this unless you want a mess. Cornmeal is used to prevent sticking and to crisp the bottom crust. The addition of egg and milk is unnecessary unless you want a dense and eggy bread...not to mention it's a large portion of additional liquid.

    Reply
    • Joe, Thanks for the "pro" baker comments. Can you tell me if this can be done in a home bread making machine? We got one years ago, but rarely use it. Now that I'm brewing a lot, it would be nice to put it back in service!

      Reply
    • Sandy the Magpie November 9, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      Except cut the salt to about 1 teaspoon. Salt is necessary to regulate yeast so it doesn't multiply too fast and use itself up, leaving nothing for the final rise, but you can overdo it.
      Also, maybe the extra sugar and proofing time is because some of the gluten and/or other proteins in the grains have been used up in the malting and steeping?

      Reply
  • Any thoughts on adjustments for using this dough for pizza crust?

    Reply
    • Leave out the milk and egg and only use a tsp of sugar in the starter and add aTBS or two of olive oil. Also, use Joe's advice. You can also let the dough rise over night (more yeast flavor). You dont need a lot of gas for pizza dough.

      Reply
  • In days of your, the bakeries were situated right next to the breweries. Instead of yeast, the bakers would use the foam from the krausen. Supposedly, bread made this way goes stale faster, but you can always freeze half the loaf.

    Reply
  • Michael

    My spent grains go to my chickens, I freeze then in 1 pound gallon bags

    Reply
  • A nice idea, but only gets rid of 3 cups of spent grain per loaf!

    Reply
  • Spent grains are spent grains. The sugar and carbs have gone into the wort. While IMO the spent grains are for the compost, there's a real treasure in the trub.
    I've very succesfully used trub to make a yeast starter that brings out a really nice complex malty flavour. Here's how: 100g trub, 100g water, 60g rye flour. Mix and leave until it is bubbling away. Then add 780g flour - combination of rye, whole wheat, all purpose - 420g water, 17g salt. knead and leave until doubled in size - a few hours. This will give you 2 700g loaves. fol, stretch, proof for 1-2 hrs and bake as you normally would fo this size of bread.
    I'm pretty sure it was the trub that bakers of yore were using, not the grains, which had likely been sparged a couple of times to make weak beers - all the goodness extracted from them.

    Reply
    • David Doucette

      The sugars aren't all gone unless you manage 100% Efficiency.But that alternate recipe looks pretty cool. Thanks!

      Reply
    • The carbohydrate has gone (mostly) but the protein content is still there: was 12% in raw grain but would end up about 50% of the 'spent' grain (dry weight) - fantastic for making bread and a terrible waste to chuck out.
      Great way to use the whole of the grain.

      Reply
  • Great post guys! I make sourdough regularly, and often use soaked grains and seeds to mix into a basic dough. You can use any basic white or whole wheat flour bread recipe and fold in the grains in after the initial dough has been mixed. You should fold the grains in after mixing the dough and development of gluten. You will find more success not trying to cram too much of the spent grains into a loaf, which will damage the gluten structures needed for successful rise and "oven spring". Use just enough to incorporate flavor and texture into the dough, and add more or less on the next batch. Have fin and happy bread making! If you have any questions feel free to DM me on Instagram @sourdoughsteveca

    Reply
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