Now that Christmas is over and I've eaten more Italian food than I ever thought possible, I have a question for you. And it's an important question.
Are you a beer brewer? Do you have any friends who brew beer? If not, it is my professional suggestion that you change that. Quickly. Seriously because not only is home-brew really good beer, so is bread made from the grains used to make the beer. Lucky for me I'm married to a home-brewer and I have several friends and family members who brew their own beer.
I made this a few weeks ago with some spent grains I got from one of our beer-brewing friends. He was making a Chocolate Stout, so the bread had a really delicious rich grainy chocolaty flavor. You could use any kind of grains from any kind of beer-making adventure you embark on. It would be really fun too, because the type of beer would dramatically change the flavor and consistency of the bread.
I brought two giant muslin bags full of spent grain home and then had to figure out what to actually do with them. After a little bit of Googling I found a few recipes for Spent Grain Bread. A lot of them seemed to use the grains as an accessory to the typical bread ingredients, except this one which highlighted the grains and used a ton of them (which was great because even after making this is still have ¾ of the grains left in my freezer). I wanted the bread to be really dense and grainy and that's exactly what I got.
Spent Grain Bread
Source: Adapted from Beer At Joe's
The grains can be frozen until you want to make the bread. It might be a good idea to grind them up in the food processor first and then freeze them, but I thawed them in the refrigerator and then put them through the food processor and it worked just fine. The dough can also be frozen in loaves on a cookie sheet and then thawed and baked later. Or you can just freeze the baked bread and thaw and eat later.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
3 cups spent grain
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup melted butter
1 cup milk at room temperature
To prepare the grains, pulse them in the food processor until they are the desired consistency. I left mine a little chunky instead of grinding it into a finer mix (see above picture).
Mix the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer (if you're making it by hand just use a large bowl). Add the yeast and the spent grains and combine. Add the melted butter and mix until combined. With the mixer running add the milk, just until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl (you might not use the whole cup, depending on how wet the grains were). If the dough gets too wet, add more all-purpose flour. If it's too dry, add more milk. If using the electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 5 minutes. If not, knead for about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat. Let rise for about 1 1/2 or 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size.
After the dough has risen, separate into thirds and form each third into balls. Let rise on a cookie sheet for 1 hour, covered with plastic wrap.
Preheat oven to 350. Score the loaves and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 40 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through.
Let the bread cool for about 30 minutes on a wire rack.