Erica and I have decided to start baking our own daily bread rather than buying it from the store every week. Part of this decision came from the situation that occurs when I bake bread just because I want to, but we also have a store-bought loaf in the fridge – carb overload. If I’m baking bread already, why don’t we just stop buying it from the store? Fair enough.
One of the problems we encounter when I bake bread, though, is that it is extremely difficult (for me, at least) to slice the bread with any kind of consistency between the slices. Also, somehow all my slices are about 4 normal bread slices thick. Immediately my mind wandered back to my days as a senior in high school, when I would spend my afternoons over at Macomb County’s Career Prep Center (CPC) in the kitchen of their functioning restaurant, learning… life skills? Anyway, I remember they had this large electric bread slicer and I thought JACKPOT – until I looked them up on Amazon, $25 gift card in hand.
Fortunately, not all bread-slicers are German-engineered and manual ones can be found for under $20. Unfortunately, they all had a considerable number of bad reviews that made me take heed – flimsy design, wood/plastic shavings that end up in the bread, not all the pieces were in the box when it arrived, etc. Luckily, some kind soul took the time out from his rant against a particularly awful slicer design to recommend one that he personally endorsed. Unfortunately (and of course), the model was discontinued and the only one on Amazon was selling for about $80. Lucky for Erica, not only did she marry a perfect physical specimen of a man but I also have brains too – so I fired up the Ebay machine and found one for under $20. JACKPOT. Oh, I also got an electric knife – you know, for carving turkeys and the like?
As sure as I live and breathe, let me tell you – the combination of the electric knife and the Presto slicer have enabled me to cut uniform slices at least as thin as store-bought bread. Success.
Erica and I are huge fans of sourdough bread, so a few days before the Presto arrived I put together a sourdough starter out of my bread machine cookbook. This starter takes a cup of flat beer – I used Dragon’s Milk because It’s a really good (expensive, boojie, fancy, etc) beer that I cannot stand to drink. Some nice soul brought it over for a party it had been sitting in the fridge ever since. Dragon’s Milk is a very dark beer, probably a porter or stout – but I’m probably wrong because I am just awful about caring about those types of things.
Does it taste good? Yes? What’s it called?
Does it taste good? No? Into the sourdough starter we go.
Anyways, here’s the recipe for the starter I made. I’ve made a couple of loaves so far, one a white sourdough and one a whole wheat sourdough. I definitely liked the white one more, and it rose significantly more (and faster) as well, but the book says that this is a good starter for whole grain breads so I guess it’s their word against mine.
German Beer Sourdough Starter
|Serves||1 1/4 cups|
|Prep time||10 minutes|
|From book||The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook|
- 3/4 cups bread flour
- 2 tablespoons rye flour
- 1/4 teaspoon yeast ((active dry, bread machine, or SAF))
- 1 cup flat beer
|Whisk all of the ingredients together in a non-reactive (not iron, copper, or aluminum) bowl.|
|Lay a clean dish-drying towel over the bowl to loosely cover it, protecting it from any foreign debris or bugs. If it makes you feel better, you could use a few layers of cheesecloth held tight by a rubber band.|
|Leave the starter out on the counter for a few days, stirring 1-2 times a day; optimally you want the ambient temperature to be around 80 degrees, but if it's not that warm out it's ok - the yeast will just take a bit longer to do their thing. The starter is ready to use when it's bubbly and smells sour & fermented.|