Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spent Grain Sourdough Bread

Things are seriously cookin' around here in the Nostalgia Baking kitchen. I can barely keep the flour off the floors and counters.

On Monday, I received some spent grain from the brewing process going on up at the soon-to-be-opened Two Rivers Brewing. It was used for a pale ale, so use your imagination. Mmmm. The contents in this plastic bag smelled delicious.

Monday is sourdough baking day anyway, so I thought it would be a suitable addition to the mix this time around.

I've been playing with the basic Rustic Sourdough recipe on the King Arthur site for months now. Sometimes, I add a cup or two of rye flour instead of using all five cups of all-purpose; other times I've used a combination of spelt flour, white whole wheat, or whole wheat.

Here's what you'll need:

1 cup sourdough starter
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant yeast
2-3 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups room temperature, lukewarm water
1/2 cup spent grains, rehydrated with water if dried (mine were not)


1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the spent grains, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let it go at a low speed for about 30 seconds or so to bring things together.
2. Once the water is mostly absorbed, add the spent grains.
3. Knead, knead, knead, for 5-10 minutes until the dough starts to look smoother and more elastic. Do not be alarmed if this bread is sticky.
4. Transfer to a bowl that's been oiled so the dough won't stick and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Set it in a draft-free, warm place for 90 minutes.
5. Go about your business; do laundry, read email, do work, etc.
6. When you return, the dough should be twice the size, and so if it is, preheat it to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. (I imagine you can also proof this, covered and in the fridge, for several hours or up to overnight.)
7. Flour a baking sheet (or use cornmeal--that's nice, too) and flour your hands. Turn the dough out onto the sheet, and separate it with a chef's knife or bench knife/pastry blade into two equal halves. Form them into whatever shape you want--I'm partial to a simple round ball--and tuck the ends underneath onto themselves. Cover them with a clean damp kitchen towel and let them rest and rise for another hour.
8. Bake in the very preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes. When the bottom sounds hollow when you tap the bread, you know it's ready.
9. Please resist the urge to cut hot bread. It's no fun on your hands and the bread just tears up. It really needs that time to cool.

Please don't be afraid of baking bread. If you want some starter and you live near me, I am happy to share. It's a nearly foolproof method for baking bread, provided you can keep your starter happy and bubbling, which really isn't too hard.

Here's how sticky this looked as it was kneading:

This bread took longer than it usually does, no doubt due to the added moisture of the spent grains (barley, wheat and crap! what else!). I actually took it out first, realized after five minutes that the inside was still jiggly, and then turned the oven back on and put the loaves in by themselves. This is a great way in general to get a better crust on the loaves. So is dousing the unbaked loaves with water before hand. In lieu of that, filling a pan underneath the baking sheet with super-hot tap water and then quickly shutting the door. Most home ovens don't come outfitted with the ability to make steam, and that's part of what makes the difference.

Oh! You want to know what it tasted like, right? It was tangy, nutty, and not nearly as dense as I'd thought it would be. See?


  1. Yum! This is a great recipe. Thanks! I put a little honey on top just before I took the loaves out, too, and it complements the sour flavor of the starter.

  2. Glad you liked it. Honey is a definite natural add--good call!