I’ve heard beer referred to as “liquid bread”. With this in mind, I decided to make a beer mash starter, which is composed of grains and yeast, just like bread.
Disclaimer: I’ll be the first to tell you that I am not a master bread baker. There are bakers who have devoted their career to understanding the complicated and intricate art of bread making. I had bread baking classes in school and I’ve always baked bread at home, but never as a part of my job. With that out of the way–
My son, who turned 21 this year, got a beer making kit for Christmas. He loves to cook and he loves science so we figured beer making should be right up his alley, and it is.
He made his first batch of beer when he was home from school for winter break. Beer making is very similar to bread making; mix the ingredients with water and yeast, allow it to ferment to create air bubbles, bake (or bottle), and enjoy the fruits of your labors.
As I watched him siphon the beer off the grain mash a light bulb went off. I decided to make a bread starter from the mash, which is composed of grains and yeast, just like bread.
I made a couple of baguettes with the starter the next day. They were beautiful and delicious, some of the nicest loaves I’ve ever made. The crust stayed crisp even as the bread cooled and the crumb was chewy and flavorful. The bread did have a slightly bitter aftertaste, which I didn’t really mind. My son was making an India Pale Ale, which uses hops for a bitter flavor, so it’s not surprising that that came through in the bread.
I’ve used the starter several times over the past few months and by now the bitter edge is gone and it has a nice yeasty sweet aroma.
Unless you or someone in your family is into beer making you probably won’t have access to beer mash, but you could make a starter using a little dry yeast. I’ve given both options in the recipe below. There are many, many ways to create a bread starter.
Dinner for One!
Recently my husband was out of town and I’d been working long hours and just eating any old thing. After a day or two of tuna and canned soup I decided it was time to cook a decent meal, even if it was a meal for one. I was rooting through the refrigerator and saw my neglected beer mash starter.
I took it out of the refrigerator, added 1/2 a cup each of water and flour, and set it over a bowl of warm water. After an hour or so I could see signs of life, whew!
Dinner for one would be a fresh baguette with grilled veggies, pesto and ricotta salata. Perfect!