Spent Grain Bread

Last weekend we stopped by the neighborhood brewery, Moccasin Bend Brewing, on our walk home from dinner. How lovely to live in a neighborhood where you can walk to dinner and stop by the local brewery as well! As we were leaving you could smell the great yeasty smell of a new batch of beer fermenting. I thought to ask what they did with their spent grain. Normally it goes to feed the chickens of the brewers mother in law but they were so kind to give me a few cups so that I could make spent grain bread.

The recipe I use is from Peter Reinhart and it is definitely the most involved bread recipe I’ve ever used. It involves making a biga (or starter) and soaker the night before. Both can actually be made several days before you want to make the bread which gives you some flexibility in your planning. A biga is a flour/water/yeast mixture that, because of the long resting time, is able to develop a much richer flavor. The soaker is a flour/water mixture that helps the flour absorb more water which keeps the bread moist. This is especially important with this recipe because it is 100% whole wheat which tends to be a bit denser and drier.

I love the smell of flour and water. It reminds me of being very young and playing with a friend whose mother let us “cook”. We made wonderful pies out of flour and water and we made tray after tray of …. ice. Yep, we thought we were on to something grand. Guess I got my start early 😉

When you are ready to make the bread you chop up the biga and soaker and add it along with the grains, honey, more flour and yeast and proceed to kneading and resting like any dough recipe. The wet dough will rise a good bit but the final baked rolls will be fairly flat due to the heaviness of the bread. Don’t fear, it still has a great crumb and an excellent flavor!

Unfortunately, these got wrapped and frozen before I got a good picture. The freezer is great for storing bread. Simply wrap each roll individually in plastic wrap and then store in a Ziploc freezer bag. Pull them out about 20 minutes before you want to serve and let them thaw still wrapped in plastic.

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