Spent Grain Bread

7 Sep

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This recipe is vegan and compatible with a whole food, plant based, no oil diet. This recipe is not gluten free.

I have been baking spent grain bread for a few years. I had spent grain bread for the first time at a local brew pub made by the head brewer at the time who was also a trained chef with a specialization in pastry. I enjoyed the flavor and loved the idea of putting what otherwise would be a waste product from brewing to good use.

When I restarted my home brewing six years ago, I resolved to use as much of my spent grain in baking as I could. Turns out three cups of spent grain straight from the mash tun fits neatly into a quart freezer bag. Spent grain freezes incredibly well which is fortunate. One batch of beer yields eight to ten quart bags of grain. One bag is enough for a batch that yields two loaves. I now have years worth of spent grain stockpiled in the 2nd freezer down in our cellar.

I started with a simple recipe I found on the American Homebrewers Association web site. I almost immediately started tinkering with it. After reading an article on cooking and baking with beer, I dropped the milk from the recipe and replaced it with beer and a little bit of olive oil. I added a second egg white to the single egg the original recipe called for. Most recently, Andrea and I have decided to eliminate eggs, dairy, and as much added oil from our diet as possible for health reasons. My family has a history of heart disease and hypertension.

I made my first pair of loaves that have no eggs or added oil yesterday. Thanks to our dietary changes and Andrea’s amazing internet research skills, we were able to find good information on baking without eggs or added oil. In short, you can substitute any of the following for oil: fruit purees, nut butters, or aquafaba. Each is recommended for different bakes. Aquafaba is a fancy word for the water left after cooking legumes. The simplest source is from canned legumes, like black beans or most commonly chickpeas. Aquafaba is also recommended to replace eggs, providing lecithin comparable to that found in egg whites.

One note of caution. Andrea has some GI issues triggered, among other things, by fiber. If you have IBS or some other GI issues, try a little aquafaba first before baking with it. Vegan mayo is often made with aquafaba so you could experiment with that. You may also try aquafaba from different legumes as I suspect that the fiber content may vary depending on the legume.

I am thrilled with the results which exceeded my modest expectations. I was hoping for something that was at least edible. I am not a particularly skilled baker. I make the spent grain bread almost entirely for myself. I have been using it in breakfast sandwiches since the first batch. I love the taste and all that extra fiber from the spent grain was already a nice heart healthy choice. The spent grain has already been solubilized during the brewing process.

The dough kneaded very well and stuck to the counter less than the version with added oil, a plus when cleaning up. The raw dough had a noticeable odor from the chickpea water that almost entirely disappeared once baked. The finished bread had a faint nuttiness to it that I am guessing is the sole flavor contribution of the aquafaba. I used aquafaba from chickpeas, you may want to experiment with other sources if you prefer a different flavor.

I added an aquafaba wash, the same way you would do an egg wash, right before slipping the loaves in the oven. The bread didn’t pick up any kind of sheen but did develop a much richer color than when I’ve used an oil or water wash. The crust was phenomenal, crispy and crunchy in all the right ways. The bread itself was light with an excellent crumb. I used a couple slices for my breakfast sandwich this morning, piling on grilled eggplant, tomato slices, and some alfalfa sprouts. Sublime.

Whether you need to remove added oil from your diet or not, I can highly recommend using aquafaba in place of oil and eggs. I believe the results are better whatever your dietary needs or concerns and suggest trying this recipe for yourself.

Thomas’ Heart Healthy Spent Grain Bread

(no eggs, no dairy, no added oil)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups wet spent grain, either fresh from the mash tun or previously frozen then fully thawed
  • 2-3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole rye flour
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 4 tbsp aquafaba (literally “bean water” save the liquid from a can of chickpeas or other legume next time you open one and refrigerate until needed; if you rehydrate dried legumes, save that water, it is also aquafaba and will work)
  • 1 tbsp agave
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast

Directions

  1. Add the agave to the hot water and allow to dissolve. Stir in the yeast packet and allow to sit until a layer of foam forms on top.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine the yeast starter with the spent grain, salt, and beer. I like to use my homebrew but any beer that you like will do.
  3. Add the rye and wheat flour, the beer, and the aquafaba and mix. Add the all purpose flour a half cup at a time, mixing thoroughly. Once the dough is firm enough to work, turn out on a lightly floured surface.
  4. Knead for at least five minutes, adding flour as needed to help keep the dough from sticking. I usually work the dough closer to ten minutes. The whole wheat and rye as well as the spent grain mean you will need to spend more time to form sufficient gluten for the bread to rise.
  5. Split the dough into two equal portions, place in floured bowls, and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise for at least an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
  6. Transfer the dough to your preferred form, pan or mold. I use a french loaf pan that makes two loaves. These fit best into my sandwich maker. Traditional loaf pans also work well, I have a pair of cast iron ones that work brilliantly. Recover with the damp kitchen towel and allow to rise again for twenty to thirty minutes.
  7. Heat your oven to 375F.
  8. Optionally score the tops of your loaves and apply more aquafaba as a wash. You won’t get the same shine as an egg wash but the aquafaba will help form a crisp, crunchy crust.
  9. Bake at 375G for 35 minutes then turn down to 325F. Continue baking for 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
  10. Enjoy fresh or allow to cool, cut into halves or thirds and freeze.

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