Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spent Grain Pretzels

This year, Waldfest was on Sunday, July 17.  This year, we would do it in style.  What better way to kick off the day than to have and authentic Bavarian breakfast with weisswurst, a hefeweisen, and of course pretzels.  Not only pretzels, homemade pretzels using spent grain.

I decided to try something different this time with my grains, don't get me wrong, I like them in my breads, but they and the remaining husks can be a bit obtrusive when you are trying to eat a slice of bread.  In the past, I have tried to grind them using a food processor, but it is very difficult and more and more water has to be added since it turns into a paste and the grains are not properly ground.

As an alternative, I decided to dry out my grains by baking them in the oven at 250ºF for about an hour, occasionally turning them.  When they were dry, I put them in the food processor on high for about a minute and ended up with an excellent consistency, just about as course as sand, with no large husk pieces.  I was very happy with the results, as was my wife since I decided that from now on I would dry and grind my spent grains and put them in a Tupperware as dry storage, and they would no longer take up a shelf in the refrigerator.  The only problem is, the two cups that I saved (I needed one for the pretzel recipe), once dried and ground was only about 1/2 of a cup.  Looks like I would be making a half batch of pretzels.

Here is the recipe I used (the recipe is for a full batch, I just made a half batch).  The half batch made about 7 decent pretzels that are about 3/4" thick at the centers, so a full batch should make about 10-14 depending how big you make them.

1 pkg yeast
6 cups flour
1 cup dried and ground spent grain
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water
5 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse salt for topping

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients and knead.  Do not leave dough to rise.  Flour surface and then take a ball of dough, roll it out, and shape the pretzel.

Once all the pretzels are made, drop them in a pan of boiling water that has 5 teaspoons of baking soda.  Once they are done cooking, they will float to the top.  Remove them, put them on a greased cookie sheet, and sprinkle them with coarse salt while still wet.

Bake for for about 15 minutes, until they start to brown on top. Cool on a rack and enjoy.

When they are done baking, they should look like this:

For everyone that isn't going to be making these pretzels, I will give you a little something you can enjoy, even if you're not coming to Waldfest:

Primary: Lite American Lager, Ginger Ale
Carbonating: Honey Dunkelweisen
Total for 2011: 60 Gallons


  1. Thanks for the recipe! My husband brews beer and we are about to enjoy our first batch of homemade spent grain pretzels. Yum!

  2. Glad to hear you enjoyed them so much!

  3. This is probably obvious to those who have made pretzels before. But where the author says to 'combine all ingredients and knead', I don't think this includes the 5 tablespoons of baking soda. Later he mentions using 5 teaspoons of baking soda in the water but I think he meant tablespoons there. I compared with other recipes and the baking soda is just for the water and 5 tablespoons sounds like the right amount.

    I actually included the baking soda in the pretzels the first time I tried it and they came out pretty bad. Trying again today!

    1. How were they the second time? Just last night I did exactly as you described (didn't see your comment beforehand)!

  4. Second time making these pretzels in as many weeks. Everyone loves them! Great recipe.

    1. My husband works at the local brewery, so no shortage of spent grain....

    2. Did you add 5 tbsp baking soda to the pretzel or only the boiling water??

  5. As a professional baker, it only makes sense to add the baking soda to the water. that or food grade lye. therefore, I feel safe in saying, do not add the leavening agent to the dough itself.