I stumbled on a recipe pin for spent grain cheese crackers a little while back from Brooklyn Brewshop. I found it through Four Peaks Brewery’s Pinterest – and if you’re not following their boards yet, you really should be. They consistently curate some of the best pins for foodies, craft beer lovers, and homebrewers. Cheers, guys!
I was nervous to make crackers, I always have been. I don’t think I’ve ever even attempted them before, but something about this recipe begged to be made. If you put spent grain and cheese in a recipe, the temptation is just too great. I decided to go for it.
I’m so glad I did!
These were super easy to whip up, rolled out well, and baked up quickly.
Project Spent Grain Drying: We brewed a ginger rye saison on Sunday so I have bags of spent grain. I’ve always used them wet for bread and pizza dough but this recipe called for the spent grain to be dry. I turned the oven to 225°, put a layer of parchment paper on a baking sheet, and scooped grain onto the sheet until it was even and about an inch deep. I didn’t measure how much I put on or how long I dried it in the oven, but it was probably around three or four hours. I turned the grain every now and then so it dried evenly and pulled it out when it was dry throughout and a bit crunchy on top. I let it cool, then dumped the lot into a plastic container and threw it in the fridge. Project Spent Grain Drying was a success!
I followed Brooklyn Brewshop’s recipe fairly closely and encourage you to go to their page for the original recipe if you’d like to give that a try. Below are the changes I made and the reasons I changed things up a bit (besides the fact that I have a thread of rebel in me).
Blender vs. Food Processor: I don’t own a food processor. I know, I know, Mom tells me all the time that I need one in my arsenal since I do so much cooking. I end up just doing things by hand, in the mortar and pestle, or in the blender when a recipe calls for a food processor. I made this entire recipe in my blender, on the liquefy pulse mode, and it worked perfectly.
Sharp cheddar: Their recipe calls for straight sharp cheddar. Certainly nothing wrong with that! I’m such a huge cheese fan and sharp cheddar is always a go-to. I had a hunk of whiskey cheddar in the fridge and a chunk of cave-aged sharp cheddar. I tossed these into the blender to grate them up and it turned out to be just a smidge more than 1 1/2 cups. I used it all. I told you I love cheese.
Salt: I upped the salt from 1/8 tsp. to 1/4 tsp. and used this incredible oak-smoked chardonnay sea salt I got for Christmas. You can order this heaven-kissed product from Williams-Sonoma. You probably should do so today.
Flour: Their recipe calls for all-purpose flour. I don’t have any right now and opted for white bread flour over whole wheat flour. This may have given it a slightly finer texture but I doubt it’s noticeable.
Liquid: I found the mixture in the blender to be a wee bit dry and crumbly. It wasn’t forming a dough ball. I decided to add liquid, a small amount at a time to the blender until it came together. I used a homebrew coffee porter and added a splash at a time until it was right. For me, this meant about 1/8 c. beer and it came together in a mass when I dumped it on the counter and gave it a few squeezes but it wasn’t sticky at all. You don’t want too much moisture or it’ll just be a sticky mess. I think it is going to partially depend on how much moisture your spent grain still contains. Definitely dust your counter and the rolling pin because as you roll it out that butter will heat up and start melting and want to stick.
Design: I used a ruler to cut my crackers and then used a Play-Doh toy letter “D” to monogram them. The monogram did not stay imprinted after baking, unfortunately. It just turned out looking a little lumpy on top. The bottom was darker than the top so next time I’ll flip them over halfway through. Total bake time for me was 13 minutes. I rolled them out to about 1/8″ and like that they have a little chew to them at this thickness.
I definitely recommend these crackers. I’m going to make a few batches for a tapas party I’m having this weekend. I may make a few variations: peanut butter and curry, bacon and caramelized onion, lemon and rosemary…the possibilities are endless! Don’t fear the cracker.
Spent Grain and Whiskey Cheddar Crackers
1/4 c. dried spent grain
1 1/2 c. whiskey cheddar (or any combination of cheddar that you can rummage up from your fridge)
2 T. butter
1/2 c. bread flour
1/4 tsp. oak-smoked chardonnay sea salt (or any other coarse salt)
1/8 c. beer (or any other liquid), more or less to just bring the mixture together
Preheat oven to 350°. Toss spent grain in the blender and pulse until it’s fairly fine. Dump into a bowl. Put cheese in blender and pulse until it’s grated. Add the spent grain flour back into the blender along with the butter, bread flour, and salt. Pulse together along with the liquid until it comes together. Use your fingers to squeeze it to see if it’s forming a ball yet. Once it’s ready, dump the contents on a floured surface and form into a loose ball. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the ball out to about 1/8″. Cut them however you want. I used a ruler and cut along the edges to make square crackers. Transfer them to an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes. Check them at 10 to see how they’re doing. Ovens are all different. If desired, flip them over halfway through for even browning. Let cool, eat and enjoy!
I think these will be on our brewpub menu someday, maybe on a charcuterie plate or with spent grain soft pretzels with a cheddar ale dip.