Each brew day there is a mountain of spent grains left over and it seems like such a waste to just throw them out. Some people use them as a special treat for their chickens, others compost them, and the number one brewer in my life has been dropping hints for a while now that these grains should be used in baking. I decided to experiment with some grainy beer crackers. For these crackers I used the grains wet, straight from the mash tun, but I have also dried some grains to be used in baking adventures for another day. Here’s what I did…
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup grain (straight from the mash tun)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt (plus extra for sprinkling on top before baking)
- ⅔ cup beer (I am lucky that there is always a keg in the garage, so I used a hoppy home-brewed Pilsner, but any beer will do!)
- Olive oil for brushing onto the crackers before baking
For extra KAPOW!
- Crush garlic into olive oil before brushing onto crackers. Sprinkle with salt.
- Or, brush with olive oil then sprinkle with caraway seeds and salt.
- Or, just use salt – yum!
What to do:
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
- Combine the grains, flour, and salt. I did this in the food processor to get the grains a bit finer, but you could also do this the good old fashioned way with a bowl and a wooden spoon.
- Add the beer and mix until a dough forms.
- Turn your dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until the dough becomes more elastic. If the dough is too wet add more flour.
- Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for half an hour.
- Take a chunk of dough (roughly ¼ of it) and roll it out on a floured surface. After some trial batches of different thicknesses, I found that the dough has to be rolled really thin (about 1mm) to get crispy crackers. If you want a cracker that has the texture of an over-cooked thin pizza dough then go for 2mm – It’s up to you.
- Use a big knife to cut the crackers into the shapes that you want. My desired shapes for this batch were rectangles. Next time I might get more adventurous and use cookie cutters to create Batman-style batarangs and throw them at people as they walk by, then catch the batarang in a big bowl of hummus when it boomerangs back to me.
- Next, put the crackers on a baking tray lined with baking paper. They don’t really expand so there’s no need to space them out too much.
- Here is where you can let your creative juices flow and chuck whatever you want on them (see suggestions above). No matter what you put on there, I do suggest brushing on olive oil and sprinkling with salt.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. This really depends on how thin you made them so keep an eye on your first batch and adjust the cooking time accordingly. You don’t want them undercooked because the middle of the crackers might be a bit chewy rather than crispy, but then no one likes crunching down on a piece of charcoal either. I went for golden crackers with browned edges – perfect!
- Let them cool on the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Put the next batch in and watch your cracker pile grow!
These crackers are very moreish, and I will definitely make them again. Next time I might try to make a shorter dough that resembles more of a cookie mixture than a pizza dough. I kept the dough mixture pretty basic for my first attempt at these grainy beer crackers and the flavour of the hoppy beer with the grains and salt were such a good combo, but playing around with the flavours of the dough (such as adding rosemary) would be tasty.
If anyone I know in the Auckland area wants to grab some spent grains from the next brew to try make these just leave me a comment and we can sort it out with the Y I Brewing boys. I only used a small fraction of the leftover grains, so there is plenty to go around.
If you have any ideas for what flavours I could try next time, let me know!