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fail: spent grain cake

Posted by aleta under recipe fail, vintage recipes

I have enjoyed some luck with used book stores and cook books that were sold to housewives for a fundraiser 40 years back. People share treasured family recipes that often turn out great (or are at least interesting enough to try to modify). However, for the record, I’d like to advise all of you against spending $5 on this ditto-machined little avocado number.

Recipe for a successful guild year.

I think that’s supposed to be Julia Child contact-papered to the cover there. Also, there were foil stars, one can only assume for extra pizazz, and a recipe for something awful titled Deviled Eggs Supreme that calls for cream of celery soup.

The guild year poem.

Here’s where the trouble started.

Where the bad idea began.

I thought for sure I could coax this cake into being an acceptable vehicle for the several pounds of spent grain in my freezer.

I call this one "Spent grain in pyrex" for lofty artistic reasons you aren't likely to grasp.

For the uninitiated, that there is a byproduct of brewing beer, and since it seems like everyone we know is a homebrewer, it’s plentiful and free around here. Spent grain is an all-natural high-fiber cereal, neutral in flavour, but similar in texture to cooked rice or oatmeal. You see why it might just work. Once upon a time I posted a recipe for spent grain cookies, but harvette did a much better job of the recipe by excluding peanut butter.

I took a picture of oatmeal too.


I have no good reason for sharing that other than it is a particularly nice picture of oatmeal, wouldn’t you agree? So anyway, I made two cakes tonight, one oatmeal, one with spent grain.

Brown sugar--always gorgeous.

More cakemaking.

. . . and while they didn’t look too bad . . .

Failed oatmeal springform.

Bundt grain fail.

They were best served like this . . .

Spent grain fail.

. . . directly into the trash can. This cake was way too sweet, never ever (ever) finished cooking, was super dense, and lacked any kind of complexity to its flavour, even after I bastardized the recipe (swapping shortening for butter, more flour, maple syrup, etc etc). Yuck. After just a couple bites I suddenly wanted to eat nothing but vegetables for the rest of my life.

So apologies to the faithful who check up on Thursday mornings, I have no recipe to share today because this one is too awful and people might actually expect to be able to eat it afterward, which um, isn’t really a realistic option. I am, however, just putting the finishing touches on an article with a really bad working title like Omnomicon: Special Edition: how to buy spices. I would like to get that post up tomorrow with not only that how-to, but also a recipe to test out all your new spices. Why? Because I would hate to disappoint anyone. I . . . I love you man!


spent grain chocolate chip cookies

Posted by aleta under sweets for sharing

Lookit what I got!

Spent grain.

In case you aren’t a homebrewer, that there is spent grain. This is what’s left after you brew the beer (but before it ferments), and it’s often used as fertilizer, mulch or animal feed. But it’s just grains, full of fiber and totally good for you, so my pal Heather filled up a nice big bag for me to play with. What a doll!

I found this recipe and tried a couple batches. The first was the recipe as written (which includes peanut butter—not my favourite), and the second was my little take, sans peanut butter and nuts. And the winner is . . . definitely the recipe as written. Mine came out dense and I daresay even fudgy, but not the good kind like you want. Also, the peanut butter doesn’t shine, it just adds to the nuttiness of the grains, and though I could probably work out some butter in its place, I would make this with peanut butter again. I did replace the oil with butter because I think it makes things a little fluffier and I felt these ran the risk of being too dense. But these tasted like super-earthy oatmeal cookies. I used only whole wheat flour and it didn’t even taste like dirt!

And hey if you don’t have access to these, no worries! I would imagine this recipe would work well for any grain mixture you might prefer. I’m thinking of bulgur in particular, but I’m not big on grain cereals. Since these grains are wet when they go in the recipe, make sure yours are cooked (and wet) before you measure them and toss them in.

Let’s take a look!

It begins.

Say what you want about the taste and calorie content, peanut butter is beautiful. Onto the dry ingredients.

Now the dry stuff.

At this point, I felt like it was time to spread these on a pinecone, and was a little skeptical about the recipe.


These are generous tablespoons smushed down just a little bit so they’ll have a nice cookie shape.

Plop down generous tablespoons.

My MY aren’t you all so lovely.

Hey kid, cool it!


Tender, cakey, delicious, healthy.

Nutty Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from a recipe featured by Seven Bridges Cooperative.

1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups spent grains (or alternatively, 1.5 cups of your favourite grain meal, prepared and still wet)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Mix in the peanut butter, regular butter, sugar, milk and vanilla. Then add the flour, baking soda and salt. Once that’s all mixed, stir in the nuts and chips.

Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 425F for 8-10 minutes until the tops are just getting golden, but before the bottoms burn. Let sit on the pan for about five minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool. Serve with love.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies after batter sampling.