09 January 2010

Sourdough Spent Grain Bread Recipe

The main reason I'm posting this is--despite my well-practiced and honed Google recipe searching skills--I was unable to find any recipes that combined spent beer brewing grains with sourdough. Lots of one or the other, but nothing bringing the two together. So here's my contribution to the world. Spent grain recipes called for yeast, and were generally pretty dense loaves. Most whole-grain recipes call for enough other additives, dry milk, potato flour, etc in the balance that the 'artisan' qualities of the bread are converted to sandwich loaf qualities. Also I didn't want too much whole wheat, as barley is pretty chewy/hearty and keeps you pooping regular for weeks as it is. The "closest" thing was Essene bread, which does in fact call for sprouted whole grain (which brewing grain is, that's the 'malting' step) and sourdough. However, that's all. Essene bread is raw food, meaning the grain and sourdough are combined with a little salt, allowed to ferment a little further, and then dried, traditionally in the sun, rather than being baked.

Anyway, with some moral support from my brother, I just went for it, with a sourdough recipe I've been working on for awhile. It turned out great. Unfortunately, I wasn't smart enough to take pictures when the loaf was whole. Here's what's left:
It's stayed moister than the bread usually does, when made without the grain.
I had the bonus of having been given some wort, too, so I used that for some of the liquid, providing sugars naturally. Here's the recipe. Maybe someday I'll learn how to make this a link, instead of all the text. Don't hold your breath.

Spent Grain Sourdough Boule
8.5 oz Sourdough Starter
6 oz Beer Wort
6 oz Water (or: 12 oz Water, 1 T Sugar)
3 oz Whole Wheat Flour
18 oz Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2T Vital Gluten (or use Bread Flour instead of AP)
6 oz Spent Grain (still damp)
2 1/2 tsp Salt

-Combine all but salt, mix til shaggy, not smooth. Let rest 30 minutes. This is called autolysing, allowing the gluten to unravel before the salt is added.
-Knead salt in by hand or machine for 4 minutes. If going by hand, then rest for another 30 minutes, and knead again for 4 minutes, til the dough is cohesive and the salt is equally distributed. The dough should be a little tacky, not dense and tight. Adjust with water or flour as needed during kneading.
-Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
-Pull out and allow to rise for 2-5 hours (You can just go straight to this, if you don't want to wait overnight). The dough should get to double.
-Fold the dough down, rather than punching it, to let air out. Knead it for a minute or two by hand. This will stretch the gluten strands out all nice and nice, instead of leaving them wadded up.
-Cover and rise another 30-90 minutes.
-Fold down again, and shape into a nice ball. At this point, you can either rise it on the counter, covered, and bake on a stone or sheet pan, or you can do what I do:
-Get a sheet of parchment paper and grease it lightly. Place your dough ball onto the parchment, and using the parchment, lift and place into a large bowl. The bowl 'guides' the dough as it rises, keeping it in more of a ball shape. On the counter, it will spread and flatten somewhat.
-Rise for 1 1/2 hours, should be nearly doubled.
-After 1 1/2 hours, get out your sweet-ass enamel cast iron dutch oven (or seasoned dutch oven, or roasting pan) and put it in the oven with the lid on. Turn the oven on to 400F. Let preheat for 30 minutes.
-Slash dough top 3-5 times, or in a cross, or a pentagram, or whatever.
-Remove dutch oven from baking oven. Lift dough with parchment sling and place the whole deal into the dutch oven. Put the lid back on, and put into oven.
-Bake for 30 minutes with lid on, then remove lid and continue baking for 15-30 minutes more, until the top is a beauty dark golden brown.
-Remove, and cool yer gorgeous loaf on a rack. heh.

This also works beauty, eh with leftover cooked brown rice, scottish or steel cut oats, millet, whatevskis.
If any of y'all have questions or problems, let me know (and to be specific, I mean in regards to the bread, okay?). I'll do my best to give you quality advice.

Also, many thanks to my neighbor, Josh, who is an awesome brewer, for giving me the wort and grain. And for blessing our neighborhood with many a tasty pint.


  1. Betsy, can I share a link to this post with my "friends" on ye auld homebrewtalk.com or something? Homebrewers like bread (and toast), but you already knew that.

  2. I love it when two GREAT thing come together to make one AWSOME piece of work!!!! That looks awsome and kudos to the nice gentleman that gave you a little of his creation :-)

  3. Hello!

    I LOVE this recipe. My husband brews so I have plenty of spent grains at my disposal. I'm not much of a bread baker so have a question for you! Let's say that one night I do the mixing and stick my bread in the fridge and then I wake up the next morning and can't bake bread that day. Would it be okay to leave it in the fridge until the NEXT day?

    Thanks for any insight you might have on this!


    1. Hi Heather!
      Sorry it took me a couple days to respond, perhaps you've already figured it out by trial and error...Two days in the fridge should be fine, your loaf will just be extra sour, though you might want to knead and shape it very gently at that point, because the gluten will be VERY relaxed.

      Much longer than two days and the gluten gets so laid back that it actually starts to break down and your loaf won't turn out as well. However, if you know that you won't be able to bake for a couple of days, just scale back the quantity of sourdough you use, and substitute it with fresh water and flour. Proceed as before! Hope that answers your question, but if not, just let me know.
      Cheers! Betsy