My dear friend Michele over at Moonzen Brewery gifted me with a bag of spent grains a while back.
What are Spent Grains?
Spent grains are leftover mash from brewing beer. The whole grains have been germinated and dried or sometimes lightly toasted to become malts, then crushed and steeped in hot water. The extracted sweet liquid becomes the basis of beer.
When you brew beer, you end up with a large mass of leftover (wet) grains. Back when we did more homebrewing, the mash went straight into our compost pile. I’ve never had the patience to dry them out–so I’m glad that Michele took the time and passed on a homemade bag.
Spent grains are like bran, but a little malty and maybe more “sharp” in texture–but, like bran, they add a pleasant wholesome bite to breads and cakes.
I often add a half cup of spent grains to rustic cakes. Yesterday, I tweaked my banana bread recipe by adding earl grey, cardamom, and cinnamon for a little more floral flavor. The icing and candied nuts are entirely optional, but I am a huge fan of the earl grey glaze now. Will definitely use it for pancakes and tea cakes in the future.
A note on tea
My favorite easy-to-buy earl grey is made by Tazo. Their earl grey seems to pack an extra-floral bergamot punch.
Spent Grain Cardamom Banana Bread with Candied Walnuts and Earl Grey Glaze
Wet ingredients (for cake)
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 earl grey tea bag
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
Dry ingredients (for cake)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup spent grains (or wheat bran)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
For the glaze (optional):
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 earl grey tea bag
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
For the walnuts (optional):
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
1. Steep the tea before you prep the other ingredients:
- A) for the cake batter: heat up the 1/4 cup of milk in a mug. Steep 1 bag of earl grey tea. Remove after 15 min and squeeze the liquid out of the bag.
- B) for the glaze: steep the other tea bag in 1/2 cup of boiling water. Remove after 15 (or more) min and squeeze out the liquid; set it aside for glazing much later
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
3. Combine dry ingredients (flour, spent grains, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, cinnamon)
4. Using a stand or electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add bananas, earl grey milk, vanilla extract, and eggs; mix well. Stir in dry ingredients and blend
until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove by inverting the loaf into a clean tea towel and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
While the banana bread is in the oven…
6. Make the candied walnuts: Melt butter with maple syrup and toss in walnuts and cardamom. Cook at a gentle low simmer for 5 minutes, stirring more near the end as the mixture gets stickier. Remove from heat and spread mixture on a piece of parchment or wax paper.
7. Tidy up :) this note is for myself… the most annoying thing about baking for me is all those bowls and sticky dishes… so I try to get them out of the way now!
While the banana bread is cooling…
8. Make the earl grey glaze: in a bowl, whisk 1 tsp of vanilla to the confectioners sugar. Gradually add the cooled earl grey tea mixture (from step 1.B), 1 spoonful at a time until the sugar is just dissolved. You’ll probably only need 1/4 cup of the earl grey tea. Adjust the consistency by adding tea or sugar. Stir in the cardamom for an added floral scent.
9. To glaze, set the loaf on a wire rack over a cutting board or large plate. Drizzle a little glaze in a zigzag motion. Set walnuts on top and drizzle more glaze (see video below)
10. Let cool, slice and serve.