Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pumpernickel Bread from Spent Beer Grains

You may notice that I've spruced up the site a little. It's my attempt to reflect the broadened direction I'm taking this blog. While the heart of it will remain dedicated to preparing wild game, I find that my growing interest in all things that accompany harvested proteins should also be discussed here. What I mean to say is that meat is great, but so are the side dishes, drinks and stories that go with them. In the past I have included product and book reviews, but I have other interests too - such as beer- and bread-making. And I want to tell you about them.

So to be able to keep this blog fresh, informative and fun, I am featuring a recipe I made just last week for Pumpernickel Bread from spent beer grains. I made a (failed) batch of Nut Brown Ale using a secret ingredient (Grape Nuts cereal) for a local homebrewing club competition, which we dubbed "Iron Brewer." We all drew special and odd ingredients that we had to incorporate into a beer. Although my base recipe was sound, the cereal did not hold up to the brewing process in the way that I had hoped. Oh well, all was not lost. I ended up with well over 20 cups of spent grains, mostly of Crystal Malt and Chocolate Malt, and from them I produced several loaves of hand-kneaded bread. I hope you give it a whirl!

Pumpernickel Bread from Spent Beer Grains
• 6 c. spent beer grains (wet)
• 1 Tbsp. salt
• 2 packages dry yeast (5 tsp.)
• 9 - 10 c. bread flour (may vary depending on climate)
• 3 1/2 c. lukewarm water (105-115 degrees)
• 1/4 c. dark molasses
• 1 Tbsp. butter
• 2 squares unsweetened chocolate (or chocolate chips)
• 2 c. mashed potatoes at room temperature (fresh or instant)
• 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds


Put spent beer grains in a blender with 2 1/2 cups of water and blend until liquefied. Pour this liquid into a large bowl and add salt and yeast. Mix well, then mix in 2 cups of flour.

In a small saucepan mix 1 cup of water, molasses, butter and chocolate. Heat on low heat until butter and chocolate have melted. Slowly add this mixture to the bread batter in the large bowl. Now stir in the mashed potatoes, 1 cup of flour (or enough to produce a thick batter) and caraway seeds. Stir and continue adding flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Let this sponge sit for about 15 minutes.

On a floured board or table, turn dough and begin kneading, adding flour as needed. Knead until the dough is elastic and smooth, perhaps 15 minutes. Now place this kneaded dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place. Let it rise until doubled in size. 

Punch the dough down and turn onto kneading board again. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and shape into a round ball. Place each ball into a greased 9-inch round cake pan. Cover and let rise again until doubled in size. 

Bake loaves in a 350 degree F oven for approximately 50 minutes. Remove from oven immediately and cool on a wire rack. Make sure each loaf has cooled completely before cutting. Serve with butter, honey and more beer!

Yields 3 large loaves.