I recently came into possession of some “spent grains” from a fairly famous local brewer. 🙂 Spent grains are basically “the leftover malt and adjuncts after the mash has extracted most of the sugars, proteins, and nutrients.” They can be used for all sorts of things, but of course, I used them to bake something delicious.
In researching different recipes to utilize the grains, I became somewhat disheartened, because so many comments to the recipes noted how dry the end product was. I decided to use a recipe I already had, and use a small amount of spent grains to add some toasty flavor. I sort of eased my way into using spent grains so I wouldn’t end up with a dry and bitter banana bread on my first try. To use spent grains in baking you typically have to dry it out in the oven for several hours, then grind it up into a flour consistency. I used the method found here to make my spent grain flour.
Spent Grains pre-drying in the oven.
Dried spent grains being ground into flour.
Alas! Spent grain flour.
My god is this banana bread good. I’m fairly certain I semi-collapsed when I took my first bite, fresh out of the oven. It helps that I had an amazing base recipe to start with, but I am definitely patting myself on the back for this one. The recipe comes from Dominique Ansel, a very famous New York pastry chef. I used to work mere blocks from his bakery, so I am verrryyyy familiar (embarrassingly so) with his talents. One variation in technique I always make to my banana breads, is to microwave the ripe bananas before mixing them with everything else. This draws out a lot of the sugars and gives them a sort of roasted flavor. I’d like to think Dominique himself would be interested in this technique. It really adds something special in my humble opinion.
This recipe is perfect (seriously you should just stop what you’re doing, go buy some “Manager’s Special,” overripe bananas, and get down to work on this right now), but next time I work with spent grain, I think I will make a hearty, savory bread to really highlight the toasted flavor of the grains. And then perhaps pair that hearty bread with a complementary brew. Excuse me now while I go look into that …
Banana Bread with Spent Grain
Recipe from Dominique Ansel
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups flour (or 2 cups flour if you’re not using spent grains)
- 1/2 cup spent grain flour (omit if you’re only using regular flour)
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 4 overripe bananas, mashed
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Note: This recipe is for 1 regular sized loaf. If you’re making mini loaves like I did, do everything the same except only bake for about 25 minutes. It could take less or more time, but that was how long mine took.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Place peeled bananas in a medium bowl and microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. This will draw out some of the natural sugar and juices.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, spent grain flour (if using), baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and combine with the mashed bananas. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix together until just combined. Fold in the melted butter until fully incorporated.
Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan (or mini loaf pans) and bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Mini loaves will take about 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.