Friday, August 30, 2013

What's Cookin' Brewtiful? {Spent Grain Bread}

Lately I've had Autumn on the brain, although here in the South it's still very much August, and despite a few teasingly cool days a week or so back it's still sweltering mid-day. But cooler temps, and the promise of a change in seasons has the lazy days of summer behind me (at least in my brain). Around these parts that means bread-baking days are deliciously present, and I'm excited to have the dough rising on the counter again in preparation for many yummy combinations to share with family and friends.

Perks of being a bread-maker's bestie who also has the brewery hookup? Spent grain bread, of course.

Naturally, I thought I'd share this with you since we're on the subject of beer. If you've never considered incorporating spent grain into your cooking, Brooklyn Brewshop is pretty much my go to source on the subject (and should likely be your first stop if you're considering dipping your toes into the world of reusing all that leftover grain from your homebrew). If you're not a homebrewer, or haven't yet made the switch to using all or partial grain for your mash, you can also usually pick some up for free from nearby breweries during off hours.

Pretty much any pre-made refrigerated dough will work. Like the kind you can get from the bakery section of the grocery store for impromptu pizza night, or the yummy biscuit dough that pops open when you whack it on the counter. Because I'm used to mixing my own, we often have a bucket of pre-mixed dough in the fridge in the cooler months, the recipe for which you can find here if you're interested in making your own.

If you want the grains incorporated throughout, flatten your dough, slather it in olive oil, massage in the grains gently, and let it rest until it puffs up and comes closer to room temp. If you don't mind a crispier, flatbread type texture, you can go ahead and just pop it into a preheated 425 degree oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or so (you'll need less time if you're using biscuit dough--just follow the package directions or wait till it looks and smells ready). Thicker loaves will need a higher temp, closer to 500 degrees, to cook all the way through in the same amount of time.

A few bready tips:
  • Position an unglazed ceramic tile (like the kind you can pick up from your local hardware store on the cheap) in the center of your oven and let your oven preheat for about 20 minutes before baking. The ambient heat radiates into the loaf and helps it cook evenly and makes for a great crust. 
  • Salt, oil, and dust the exterior of your bread with flour in different combinations for a variety of textures, flavors, and other yummy alternatives to your crust. I always coat the outside of my bread in olive oil, table salt, and coarse salt to help the spent grains toast and give the crust some lovely crunch. The result in a popcorn-like taste and texture that's absolute heaven.
  • The flatter your loaf (think focaccia style bread) the more quickly and more evenly your dough will rise, bake, and be ready to eat. So if you're in a hurry for deliciousness, or don't have a lot of time or patience to fuss over an artisan-looking loaf of bread, flatten it out and throw it in. It's home-made, so no matter what it ends up looking like, it's going to taste delicious.
Your spent grain bread will be equally delicious with: beer of any kind (yep), spicy marinara or meat sauce (oh, man), roasted garlic butter or softened butter of any sort (mhm), dragged through a runny egg, topped with fresh cheese and broiled, sopped with juices from just about any roast beast, or made into croutons for soup or salad.

Hungry yet? I'd love to know what's cookin' on your end. Let me know what you're up to, if you make some of your own spent grain bread, or if you have your own favorite spent grain recipes you especially love. And stay tuned for more delicious beer-eatery goodness. Can you say apple dumplin's and pumpkin beer? I can.

Until next time, eat well, drink whole heartedly, and savor the deliciousness of your daily life.


Inquires, comments, questions, and other lovelies can be sent to @HeyBrew_Jess on Twitter or emailed to heybrewtiful{at}

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