I knew the Great Spent Grain Baking Experiment was going to leave me with a kitchen full of bread. But I tend to have a very “well, the oven’s already on” attitude toward baking, and when I started seeing recipes for things like pizza dough and crackers, this had the potential to get out of hand very quickly.
Somehow, nothing was a total disaster, and I ended the experiment with several recipes I’ll make again the next time we brew. Here’s how the non-bread recipes shook out:
This was actually the first thing I made, but I didn’t bake it until last night. I added another cup of flour to the recipe, split it into two balls of dough after it rose, and froze them in plastic bags. Yesterday morning, I plopped one of the frozen discs in a lightly oiled bowl, covered it with a towel, and let it rise for about eight hours (pretty much my standard procedure for pizza dough).
This dough is very wet and stretchy, so I had to act fast to get it into a pizza shape, and it took a lot of cornmeal to get off the peel and onto my pizza stone, but the result? Amazing: thin and cracker-like with a perfectly puffy edge. This is a keeper for sure, and I’ll probably make a double batch (at least) next time. (Also, yes, that’s the Potesto again, with basil pesto this time.)
I did some finagling with this one: I used my favorite Smitten Kitchen soft pretzel recipe, halved it, added a cup of spent grains to the dough, and then just kept adding flour until the dough cleared the sides of my mixer (four-ish cups, I think; at some point I just stood there with a half-cup of flour at the ready and dumped in a bit every time the dough started to stick again).
These are perfect. Honestly, perfect. They are soft pretzels, so it would be hard for them not to be great, but I love the touch of whole grain flavor and the softness the spent grains added. These kept perfectly for two days in an open bowl covered with a kitchen towel, and I’m so sad that they’re gone. Absolutely going in the rotation.
The ultimate “oh hey, why not?” recipe of this experiment, these came out well — not a blockbuster, but they do use 1.5 cups of grains and contain chocolate and peanut butter, so how bad could they be?
These remind me most of the pumpkin cookies I sometimes make, big and puffy and hearty. (I could almost pretend they were healthy in an energy bar kind of way.) I could see myself making a batch of these right after the grains come out of the beer to fuel us through the rest of the brewing process.
I didn’t quite give myself enough time to bake these till they were fully crunchy — the top tray got there, but the bottom tray could have used 10-15 minutes more — and they really have to be thin to crisp up. If I were to do these again, I’d roll them out right on the baking sheet (maybe even flip the sheet over, top it with parchment, and bake them right there), because transferring them from my cutting board to the baking sheet took forever.
On the plus side, this makes a ton of crackers. The crispy ones are best, but the puffier ones just taste like pitas, so I’m not too bummed. I’ll just leave myself more time to bake next time.
So. What would I make again?
The pretzels, absolutely, every time. The crackers, actually; I’d like to try adding seeds and spices. The herb bread, which I really want to get right; I still haven’t figured out how to bake it through, but I love the taste, so I’m not done tweaking. The pizza dough. And perhaps another rye bread; I think I know enough now to work with these basic recipes and come up with something good.
Now, who wants some bread?