Monday, March 13, 2017

The spent grain baker

I love everything about brewing beer. The way it perfumes my kitchen. The happy memories of my first experiences homebrewing with a former partner in his tiny little Brooklyn apartment. The excuse to gather friends together to make a 5-gallon batch, and the sitting around and laughing and cooking and eating it always entails. (The cleanup can sometimes be a pain, especially when a stovetop boilover happens, but it's a small price to pay. Plus I already spend half of my professional life washing, drying, and organizing dishes, so what's another few hours on the weekend?)

In recent years, I've found one of my favorite parts of brewing is figuring out what to do with the spent grain after it comes out of the wort. Sure, I could compost it -- a perfectly acceptable means of disposing of it -- but instead I save up my gluten chits (yes, I am still trying to cut down on it) for brewing days because I know there is going to be some spent grain baking involved. Even since my favorite spent grain recipe source -- the Brooklyn Mash -- took down their website, I have not been deterred. Just had to get more creative on my own. This time around, we made some spent grain biscotti that was, according to various taste testers, pretty stellar. So much so that one of my foodie brewing friends asked for the recipe! So, here it is....

Lemon Almond Biscotti
Adapted from Country Living Magazine. Though it might seem like an unusual flavor combination, the mix of bright citrus and smooth, grassy olive oil works incredibly well in these classic Italian cookies. Makes 48 biscotti, or so. Best dunked in your morning coffee.

1 cup spent grain flour
1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup plain almonds, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup olive oil
Zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 bar dark chocolate, melted, for drizzling
sea salt for sprinkling


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Stir together eggs, sugar, olive oil, lemon zest, and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until dough just begins to come together. Do not overmix. Stir in nuts.

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using damp hands, shape each piece into a 12" long log, 1/2" high.

Bake logs until firm, about 28 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Reduce oven temperature to 250F. Cool logs on baking sheet for 12-15 minutes.

Transfer logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice cooled logs into 1/2" thick biscotti. Place biscotti back on parchment-lined baking sheets, with a tiny bit of space between each slice, and bake until until slightly crisp, about 14 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Drizzle with melted chocolate, then sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate to set chocolate.

Will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for... well, the record for not eating them is two days, so at least that long.