After seeing how many pounds of grain it takes to make beer, I decided that the only sensible thing to do is to use that grain as fully as possible. And thusly, I located a spent grain bread recipe and gave it a whirl.
And while I was pretty enthused with it, it was a bit too… hardy. It would probably go amazing with a big ol’ bratwurst, with sauerkraut and whole-grain mustard. But we typically make sandwiches, and this dense bread can lead to a tiresome amount of chewing.
So I went on the hunt for another recipe to try out. I landed on Snappy Service Cafe’s spent grain recipe. Pam, the author, stated that the recipes she saw were all made by brewers and therefore “a little on the heavy side.” True that! She continues to state that, as a baker, she developed a spent grain bread recipe that is “light and chewy at the same time.” Sold!
I decided to make two loaves with this recipe. One as intended by Pam, and one with gluten-free ingredients (you know, aside from the spent grains part, haha). I bet Pam could have done a better job improvising the second version of the recipe, but more on that in a bit.
This recipe is pure gold as far as I am concerned. I think this is the one we’ll be using as a base from now on. I may get a little stir-crazy from time to time, and try to mix things up with garlic, cinnamon or cheese, but I think we have a winner. A quick, easy experience, resulting in beautiful, delicious bread.
My only issue is with step six, which calls for a large handful of ice to be thrown in the bottom of the oven. I had never heard of this before, and was instantly excited about trying something so out of the ordinary. But at the same time, it sounded a bit odd to me, so I did a Google search, whereupon I came across many people fervently declaring that this should never be done, for safety reasons.
I am sure Pam is an expert, and has done this many times, but I haven’t, and I don’t know much about how ovens are made, so I wasn’t able to judge how accurate I felt people’s statements were on the subject. However, I read a suggestion that seemed easy enough to follow.
Simply throw the large handful of ice cubes in a baking tray under the bread. Since the point of this exercise is to get steam in the oven so it crisps the outside of the loaf, this seemed a reasonable alternative to the horrors described in the baking forums I read.
Well, it warped the crap out of my nice, relatively new baking tray, so I am not sure I feel it was a good idea anymore. Actually, I am pretty bummed. More research will have to be done.
In the “gluten-free” loaf, I used Red Mill all purpose gluten-free flour (largely made of garbanzo beans). Most gluten-free recipes I glanced at online called for xanthan gum, which I did not have on hand (and which is very expensive, at least at my local Kroger). I saw that cornstarch could be used in a pinch, so I went with that.
Not my favorite thing to do, and I probably didn’t get the amount right, because the loaf never really got as high as the original recipe’s loaf did.
The darker color of the second loaf can likely be attributed to the fact that i put the grains in very late in the game for the first loaf, and very early on in the second loaf, so there was more time for them to get broken up and mixed about in the dough.
As far as I am concerned, the gluten-free version was mostly a failure. We’ll eat it, to be sure, but it’s not the easiest size and shape for sandwich-making, which the only thing we ever use bread for. Alas.
But, like I said earlier, the original recipe is fabulous, and we’ll be using it again. if I make any fun variations, figure out how to do “gluten-free” properly, or learn more about using ice in ovens*, I’ll be sure to make an update!
*Pam helpfully suggested that I use a dedicated pan for tossing the ice in. If my currently messed up pan turns out to be permanently messed up, then it will serve. Otherwise, perhaps a trip to the thrift store is in order.