Homemade Spent Grain Bread: The Smell and Taste of Heaven

Recently, my man has taken up home-brewing. Right now we have two ciders complete, two meads a brewin’, and 3 varieties of beer to enjoy. Yes, we are the new LCBO in town…well, not quite.

One of the many perks of home-brewing is the spent grain. After a big brew-fest last weekend, we were left with a large amount of spent barley. So we decided to make bread. And man, is it good.

This is a two step process as you first need to make the ‘sponge’ and then, 24 hours later, the dough. Believe me, the lengthy timeline is totally worth it.

For the sponge you will need:

  •  1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 c water (room temp, s’il vous plait)
  • 3/4 c spent grain from brewing (we had barley)
  • 1 1/2 c bread flour (buy the bread flour, it is totally worth it…yes, we tried both regular and bread flour)

Dump the 1/2 tsp of yeast into the lukewarm water. Stir. It will become cloudy. Perfecto.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, spent grain and water concoction together.

The evolving ‘sponge’ will become quite annoying as it becomes more and more attached to your stirring device. Do not despair. Wash those mitts and get them in the mixing bowl and knead your little heart out.

Once it is all mixed and pretty, set aside. Cover it with a tea towel and let the ‘sponge’ sit for 24 hours. Magic awaits your eyes. You will understand why it is called a ‘sponge’ following the 24 hour wait period.


It’s business time.

For the dough you will need (sorry, I forgot to take a pic):

  • The sponge
  • 4 c bread flour
  • 1 cup water (room temp)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp salt
Mix all the ingredients together.
Here comes the ‘sponge’!
Now comes the kneading process. This is a fairly long and arduous process, but stick with it – a slice of heaven awaits you. Knead until all the ingredients are combined, and combined well. This may take 10-12 minutes of kneading. You will need breaks and to remain hydrated. Perhaps a few sips of the beer that brought you the spent grain, no?
Once you are done the kneading (yes, a very exciting moment), you will need to move the dough ball into a well-greased bowl and cover it with plastic. Let it sit for a 2-3 hours. Magic, once again, awaits your eyes – see dough ball after 2 hours of rising time, below.
Separate this dough ball into two lovely little loaves. Evan did this by flattening it out (see below) and cutting it down the middle. Once evenly split, form into the shape of a loaf. Set each loaf into a 9×5 inch greased pan and, once again, cover with a dish cloth to let the dough rise (I know, it’s intense).
While you’re waiting on the dough, turn on your Bake-Master 3000 to 450 degrees. In tandem, or shortly after turning the oven knob, place a cast iron skillet (or deep metal pan) on the bottom oven shelf.
Using a serrated knife, cut three slits on the top of each loaf. Not to deep.
When the oven is ready to go, put in the loaves. In addition, add two cups of water to your pre-heated cast iron skillet to create steam.
Bake for 15 minutes, watch for uneven browning. If uneven, turn the loaves and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
Take the pans out and let cool for 10 minutes. After, place them on a cooling rack. I would recommend slicing a piece as soon as possible. I am not sure if there is anything better than freshly baked homemade bread right out of the oven.
Two days later, we went totally crazy and made 9 loaves (only 8 shown here as 1 had partially been consumed). We are currently quite popular with friends and family!
Thank you Evan for your passion and dedication to this project. You are quite the brewer and baker.
Recipe courtesy of Michigan Beer Blog. Thank you!

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