Inspired by the spent grain flatbread I’ve had at Stone World Bistro (where it’s now called “Brewer’s Barley Cracker Bread”, perhaps because non-brewers are squeamish about the phrase “spent grain”), I took advantage of Chuck’s recent batch of Chocolate Porter to try my hand at making these treats. I searched for recipes in my numerous baking cookbooks and online, and found several recipes for spent-grain bread, but none for crackers. While reviewing the flatbread section of The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, I decided that the malted barley is kind of like rolled oats, and so an adaption of the “Scottish Oat Cakes” recipe would be my jumping off point for my spent grain crackers.
I wanted my crackers to be part whole-wheat, and wanted to use less butter, oil, and sugar than in the oat cakes recipe, and I was hoping the residual moisture in the barley from the beer-making would help bind the crackers together.
I started out with 2 cups lightly packed barley which had been boiled from the beer and then mostly drained.
I combined the barley with one cup each King Arthur All-Purpose flour and King Arthur Whole Wheat flour, added two tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
I then added 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened, and 4 tablespoons shortening, and creamed those into the flour and barley mixture. After mixing in the butter and shortening, I had a dough that held together loosely. I recommend adding 2-4 tablespoons of water to make the dough more cohesive, since my baked crackers had some crumbly edges.
The recipe recommends rolling out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cutting it into rectangular crackers, but I was going for a more rustic look. I used a cookie scoop to get uniformly-sized balls of dough, then squished them down to about 1/4 thick:
I then baked the crackers at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, until fairly crispy. The resulting crackers had the flakiness of a pie crust, with extra chewiness from all the barley. The whole wheat flour and barley gave the crackers sweetness, but they weren’t overwhelmingly sweet.
We had the crackers with our dinner that night, as part of a cheese plate. We had three cheeses from Taste cheese shop - Mimolette, Barely Buzzed (made with coffee – my favorite!), and Shropshire Blue. We also paired our dinner with Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point.
These crackers are a fun and tasty way to use some of the barley from beer-brewing, and I recommend making them if you get the chance!