It’s the Chief who brews the beer, not me. He really loves beer! I’m more of a Mojito gal myself…
Say, did you see the article in yesterday’s New York Times food section about Mo-TEA-tos using this new sweet tea vodka? Has anyone tried that? I’m very suspicious of any attempt to adulterate the purity of iced tea with fancy-shmancy cocktail ideas, and I sort of think the rum is part of the tastiness of a mojito, but I admit I’m curious…
Aaaanyway, his beer is very hoppy and on the bitter side. In so far as I enjoy a few sips of beer, it’s definitely my style. He gets a kit from the brew store nearby, but he’s looking forward to branching out into his own recipes soon. It was he who suggested finding a use for the grains, and lo! there is such a thing as spent grain bread!
Since the grains are boiled and then steeped, but not for very long, I think they retain a lot of nourishment. If you don’t happen to have a handy brewmaster around, you can use any soaked grain — leftover oatmeal would be great!
This time I decided to make my bread the “fermentation” way, which I’ve been very interested in, using a poolish. You can read about these things in this book that I borrowed from the library.
You can also google the terms and come up with lots of informative pictures and methods.
Now, the recipe I saw online called for a biga, but what I made was a poolish. It just happened that way, because they are not very different.
By the way, I think those two words, biga and poolish, are two of the silliest words I have ever come across. They don’t sound like what they are or even the countries they come from. Poolish is what the French use to start bread, but it sounds…Polish. And biga is what the Italians use, but it sounds…Romanian. This drives me crazy. I’ll just say starter.
One recipe I read for spent grain bread called for a soaker. Since I have been reading Nourishing Traditions (also borrowed from the library),
I was attracted to the idea of soaking the flour before using it. I don’t have time to go into my conflicted thoughts right now about this book, but if you want to tell me what you think about it in the comments, I’d be very interested!
I wish I had thought to take a picture of the grain before mixing.
Now, I’m not going to give a recipe, because you can find one by googling it and it will be a lot more precise than what I do. I just have an outline in my head and proceed accordingly.
This is the starter,
which is an equal (more or less) amount of water and flour (2 cups each) and about a 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast. For the soaker, I mixed about 2 cups of King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour with enough cold water to make a loose mixture, and left that to… soak. Then I washed bottles…
To make the dough the next day, I mixed the starter (minus about a 1/2 cup which I used to make more starter), the soaker, the spent grain (about 3 cups plus liquid), warm water, another 1/4 teaspoon of yeast, a small dab of mashed potatoes I had lying around, about 2 tablespoons butter, about 1/4 cup honey, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, and enough unbleached white flour to make a loose, wet, not stiff, slack, sticky, and any other adjective you can find to prevent yourself from adding too much flour, dough.
Since this made a large amount of dough, I divided it into two batches and mixed each up in my Kitchenaid mixer. Here it is in my handy rising pan in the two lumps, doing the autolyse, a step I highly recommend, although these days I add the salt along with everything else and it doesn’t seem to make too much difference. But resting the dough after mixing is crucial.
After the final integration (a short gentle knead) in the rising pan:
I put it over in this warm corner to get started fermenting. (The difference between rising and fermenting is explained in that book. It’s all very chemical.) In the bowl is a bit of the poolish getting going with some more flour and water, for the next bread-baking adventure.
After a few hours I gently folded the dough and put it in the fridge until the next day, then let it rise in this spot (the dough will simply never warm up in my kitchen in February unless I do this).
Here it is partially risen.
I am particularly happy to see this gluten development:
Now it’s fully risen and ready to be shaped into loaves:
Since I find it annoying to always scoop into my big, somewhat inaccessible flour bin for every little quarter cup I might need to make a roux or flour a board, I keep a jar handy for just that “intermediate” purpose. It gets grubby but I can close the cover tightly and wash it off before putting it away on the shelf.
Since this bread is quite hefty, I made 5 small loaves and one larger one. They sat on my floured butcher block and quietly rose as I heated the oven and otherwise puttered about.
I transferred them onto a preheated corn-mealed sheet (except for the big one, which I baked in a preheated floured pyrex dish) and scooted them into the 400* convection oven (this one was my first, test, one):
They baked at this temp for about 15 minutes for the small loaves. The larger one was 30 plus an additional 15 at 350*.
The bread is tasty and moist, with a good crust. It tastes a little like beer :)
It freezes perfectly and makes a great meatloaf sandwich!