alcohol | beer | breads | snacks | spent brewing grain | traditional with a twist | unique | yeast

Hearty spent grain French bread.

January 27, 2014

Just a few days ago I posted about bagels, now it’s bread. I know, it’s crazy. But winter time is time to bake a lot of warming, comforting things. And bread is definitely one of those, don’t you think?

Back in August I told you all about my friend Pete, and his home-brew supply store, Homebrews & Handgrenades. I told you all about how he gave me a ton of spent brewing grain to bake with, and I made that bread.

Well things have been a bit busy around here since then. I remodeled almost the entire place, had no appliances, and then there was Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. It hasn’t been conducive to insane recipe experimentation like is required when you get something brand new, like spent grain. So whatever I haven’t used yet is sitting in jars in my freezer, waiting for me to decide what to do.

What is spent grain?
Spent Grain is a byproduct from brewing process. The chemical composition of wet spent grains is given below:
– Water, 80%
– Protein, 5%
– N-free extract, 9%
– Fat, 2%
– Cellulose fibres, 4%
– Minerals, 1%


Spent brewing grain, drying in the oven (click through for cracker recipe).

First, I dried out a bunch of the grain by laying it out on a cookie sheet and baking it at my oven’s lowest setting (170° F) for 7 hours or so, basically “overnight.” This was important because the grain was wet when I got it, and I froze it immediately. That means there was a lot of moisture trapped in there!

Once it was dried (and a little toasted, ’cause I raised the temperature a bit for the last hour), I let it cool completely. Then I used my KitchenAid grain mill attachment to grind it into a flour. I used a somewhat medium grind, it wasn’t too fine but not too coarse. And then- voila- I had spent grain flour! Which, by the way, you can store in your pantry in sealed container for as long as you like.

Spent brewing grain French bread.

Once the grain is ground, you can use it in TONS of recipes. Like this one:

French bread made with spent brewing grain.

SPENT BREWING GRAIN PAIN ORDINAIRE or classic French bread (adapted from a recipe by Dennis Midden, April 1997)


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (organic or all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup spent grain flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg white whisked into 1/2 cup cold water for glaze


  1. Proof the yeast by stirring it into one cup of warm water (115° F). When the mixture is creamy (about 10 min.), pour it into a large mixing bowl and add 1.5 cups of lukewarm water.
  2. Start adding the flour handful by handful, stirring after each addition, at first gently and then vigorously, with a wooden spoon. As the batter becomes thicker, it will also become more elastic. You are actually trying to create strands of dough much like taffy that extend from the spoon to the dough in the bowl each time it is whipped in wide, slow, sweeping motions.
  3. After all but one cup of flour has been added (this will take about 10 minutes), turn the dough out onto a work table, sprinkle the salt over the dough, and knead it for about five minutes while adding the rest of the flour.
  4. Because the dough has been whipped up vigorously in the batter stage, it will not have to be kneaded as much in the dough stage. The dough should be moist and satiny. Place the dough in a bowl large enough to accommodate its doubling in volume. The bowl can be greased or ungreased as you prefer (I used some olive oil in mine).
  5. Cover the bowl with a moistened dish towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot, out of the way of drafts, for 1.5 to two hours or until it has doubled in volume. Punch the dough and let it rise again for another 30 to 45 minutes.
  6. Divide the dough into two pieces. Round the dough into a tight ball. Cover with a cloth so the outside does not crust over, and allow to rest on the table for 15 minutes.
  7. Shape the dough into a loaf. Place each on a baking sheet that is greased or lined with a parchment paper.
  8. Let the loaf rise, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour, until it has doubled in volume. With a razor blade slash loaf four or five times, and then glaze with the egg-white mixture. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, the loaf will look golden brown in color and sound hollow if they are thumped on the bottom.
  9. Place loaves on a wire rack to cool.

A delicious classic French bread made with spent brewing grain.

The best way to serve this bread, is probably, of course, with a beer.

However, it’s also just so good for breakfast with some jam or butter. Homemade butter is particularly good.

A classic French bread made with spent brewing grain.

Is this an easy recipe? Yes, but it does take a long time. It’s an all-day kind of project, unlike those bagels I posted last week. But it’s worth it! And the recipe can be doubled, so you can make 2 loaves of bread at once, or you can make long baguettes out of it & make more. Bread like this does freeze well, but for more tips on that, click this link.

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  1. As a faithful reproduction of Dennis’s recipe, you have also left off the baking temperature.

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