Eezi-Slice Bread Slicer Board Review

 

Just before Christmas, I received a beautifully presented package from Eezi-Slice, a company centered around its founder’s invention; the Eezi-Slice bread slicer. I agreed to review the bread board so here are my thoughts after having used the board for a month.

Eezi-Slice Bread Board

How does the Eezi-Slice bread board work?

The Eezi-Slice bread board is unique in what it does, the design is simple yet effective. The board has two sides which allows you to either cut a “thick” (19 mm) or a “thin” (12 mm) slice of bread (the maximum slice width is 127 mm). That’s the simple premise. If you follow the instructions (see image below), it works perfectly every single time. It’s easy to use and unexpectedly addictive! 

Eezi-Slice Bread Board Instructions

Tip: To avoid the board from sliding while cutting just put a moist sponge cloth (or other non-slip material) underneath.

See a demonstration video (by the inventor!) over on the Eezi-Slice website.

How has it performed in my test kitchen?

Having used the Pumpernickel), it absolutely delivers on all of its promises and is now the only way I cut bread. 

Having uneven, sometimes broken-up slices of bread had not particularly bothered me in the past. After all, it was always predominantly about the taste for me. However, having the bread board in use has made me less anxious (who knew I was?!) about cutting up my homemade breads. The breakfast serving of bread is now completely predictable. My guests get to taste good bread which is now also impeccably presented.

It’s also great for getting those unstable and shaky ends of bread loaves sliced up without the usual hassle. Just watch your fingers and lay your hand flat on the top of the bread to slice safely.

Eezi-Slice Bread Board and Knife

The lack of crumb catching (a feature pointed out as a must-have in this previous post on bread cutting boards) is not a huge issue as the crumbs are mostly contained by the sides (cutting guides) of the board. 

The sturdy wooden board is made from sustainable sources. The website states it’s made from woods ‘such as bamboo’, so I’m not sure if the whole board is bamboo or if other kinds of wood are used as well.

I also love the bread knife which can be acquired with the board. It’s absolutely perfect for the board and cuts superbly – even through very hard crusts and stale bread loaves.

In terms of alternative bread slicing tools, I can compare it only to the electric slicer my parents have in use. The electric bread slicer does win when it comes to versatility. The bread board offers a thick and a thin slice, but my ideal slice would perhaps be somewhere in between. However, the Eezi-Slice wins on style, it saves space and is obviously specifically designed with bread in mind (always a winner in my books).

So if you are considering buying a board, rest assured it’s a high-quality, well designed and highly useful utensil for the perfectionist baker, bread lover and/or host.

Homemade Christmas bread gifts

 

If you are looking for thoughtful DIY Christmas gift ideas, baking homemade Christmas bread gifts could be a winning option.

Giving bread as a gift has a long tradition, specifically for housewarmings, and giving bread as a Christmas present is an equally good idea.

Christmas bread gifts are perfect for festive dinner parties and can be the ultimate a little something for neighbours and foodie friends. Merry baking!

Christmas Bread Gift Idea
Christmas Bread Gift Idea

How to guide: Christmas bread gifts

If you are considering to prepare a loaf of bread as a Christmas gift, think about these three elements:

  1. Give a decorative, celebratory and tasty loaf of bread
  2. Wrap it nicely as a gift
  3. Add something of longevity, for example a pretty loaf tin, as the bread gift itself will of course be devoured quickly 🙂

The festive loaf

A lot of Christmas breads are decorative and tasty by default, so there are plenty of recipes to choose from. For example this German Stollen recipe and this easy Christmas wreath recipe.

For this year’s Christmas gift breads I’m opting for a simple brioche recipe. Its inherent richness, the beautiful bake and glossy dome make for a luxurious Christmas bread loaf gift option.

The gift wrapping

How to wrap bread as a gift? If you wrap your homemade bread gifts, you ensure your breads are recognised as the gifts they are. Wrapping bread as a gift can be as basic or elaborate as you like, but I tend to opt for something practical.

Wrap in a colourful cotton kitchen towel which allows the bread to breathe and adds vibrancy to the presentation. As a serial bread gifter, I have also invested in a personalised stamp and label set. Use baker’s twine to hold it all together.

Personalised baking
Personalised baking

The baking dish

To provide a gift beyond the homemade bread, I like to add something practical into my homemade bread gifts. Place the bread into the decorative baking tin it was baked in. Baking tins and dishes fit well into any kitchen and there are plenty of options to choose from, for any budget.

In the case of the brioche gift, it’s a nice idea to give the brioche dish away as part of the gift, for future bakes. It acts as the perfect bread loaf gift box.

Austrian Foodie Gift Ideas

 

Whenever I visit my family in Austria and return to Scotland, I bring back some tasty Austrian goodies for friends and plenty of delicious treats for myself. If you are looking for foodie souvenirs to take back home with you from a trip to Austria, have a look through my list of essential Austrian food gifts.

My favourite Austrian food gifts

I initially started this post as a small list of must-have Austrian food gifts. In the end, I got a bit carried away and it turned into quite a substantial list of all the Austrian food souvenirs I love taking home with me.

Austrian Pumpkin Seed Oil and Käferbohnen

One of my favourite Austrian food gifts is a combination of Styrian pumpkin seed oil (Kürbiskernöl) and Käferbohnen. Kürbiskernöl is the most delicious and wholesome oil you’ll ever taste. It’s made from a specific variety of pumpkin, the Steirischer Ölkürbis (Cucurbita pepo var. styriaca), the seeds of which are first roasted and then pressed. The resulting oil has a distinctively nutty flavour, deep green in colour and perfect for salad dressings. This is where the Käferbohnen (Phaseolus coccineus) come in. Also cultivated in the Styria region, Käferbohnen are large beans (up to 2.5cm long) and usually  dark-purple, red and brown brindled in colour. Combined, these two Austrian delicacies make for an awesome salad (Käferbohnensalat).

Austrian Organic Herbal Tea

My all-time favourite, all-organic herbal teas come from Sonnentor, a company based in the Austrian area of Waldviertel. More than 150 Austrian organic farmers provide the high quality herbs and spices for Sonnentor’s feel-good products. My favourite teas are Schutzengel-Tee and Druidentrank. The first is an indulgent spice tea blend combining apple pieces, coriander seeds, fennel, rose hip, mint, anise and corn flowers. Druidentrank is a delicate herbal tea blend made with hemp leaves, birch leaves, hazelnut leaves, mallow leaves, mint and mugwort.

With company values including respect for nature and a wide range of herbal and spice teas to choose from, Sonnentor is an Austrian brand which will deliver fantastic goodies for any gifting occasion.

Austrian Drinks: Rum, Schnaps & Wine

Austria has a wealth of alcoholic drinks to choose from. Here are some of my favourite drinks which will make great gifts too.

Stroh Rum – A richly spiced dark rum made from sugarcane by-products and a secret blend of spice extracts and essences. Christmas Stollen and Mohnstrudel).

Schnaps – Austrian Schnaps is brandy made with local fruit. Ask any local and they will be able to point you in the direction of locally produced Schnaps. Anyone with their own fruit trees can distill Schnaps for their own consumption. In order to sell it, certain additional guidelines must be followed but there is plenty of supply! In my local area, there are two specific Schnaps distillers I can recommend: Hofdestillerie Dicker and Edelobstbrennerei Andre Christon.

Austrian wine – Austrian wines are enjoying a worldwide renaissance at the moment and are valued for outstanding reputation, quality and innovation. 35 grape varieties (22 white, 13 red) are permitted for use in Austria with the local variety Grüner Veltliner accounting for almost one third of Austria’s vineyards. Take a look at the beautiful Austrian wine growing regions and find out more about the many award-winning Austrian wines. You really can’t go wrong with a good bottle of Austrian wine for a foodie friend.

Finally, a quick mention of Almdudler, the popular Austrian fizzy soft drink, second only to Coca-Cola in terms of Austrian carbonated soft drink consumption. I don’t want to promote sugary soft drinks on my blog, but I couldn’t omit Almdudler from this list! Almdudler tastes similar to ginger ale, but sweeter, herbier and slighly more bitter. A must-taste when in Austria!

Austrian Sweets & Christmas Treats

Perhaps the most typical and popular foodie present from Austria – a bag of Mozartkugeln. Mozartkugeln were created in 1890 by Salzburg confectioner Paul Fürst and named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The delectable confection balls made of a central ball of pistachio marzipan, a layer of nougat and an outer layer of dark chocolate. There are many plagiates out there, but if you can, seek out the hand-made Original Salzburger Mozartkugeln which are manufactured by Fürst’s descendants up to today.

Manner’s classic Neapolitan wafers are my personal Austrian packaged sweet favourite (and it seems Arnie’s too!). Who wouldn’t like tender wafers filled with four layers of delicate hazelnut cocoa cream?! The basic recipe introduced in 1898 has remained unchanged to this day. So delicious, they melt in your mouth, have a taste.

If you are looking for a fun candy gift from Austria, PEZ sweets and their mechanical pocket dispensers are the perfect present. Originally marketed as a peppermint sweets, PEZ are now available in a range of different fruit flavours. The name PEZ comes from the German word for peppermint (Pfefferminz). Classic dispener heads feature Disney, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Pokemon, The Simpsons characters and many more. There are over 550 unique dispenser heads with many variations but Santa Claus is the highest-selling PEZ dispenser to date.

Local Austrian Specialities

If you get a chance, head to one of the many local food markets in Austria, for example Schrannenmarkt in Salzburg, Naschmarkt in Vienna or any of the weekly markets taking place across the country in market towns. You can pick up local Austrian delicacies wherever you go.

What’s your favourite Austrian food souvenir? Let me know, the list is work in progress and will be updated frequently.

La Cloche Baking Dome Review

 

I finally invested in a La Cloche baking dome earlier this year and what an amazing purchase it was. My loaves now brown more beautifully and I’m able to achieve a delicious looking and tasting crust while retaining a moist and chewy crumb. The baking dome arrived well-wrapped in its box and was immediately used to bake this beautiful loaf of sourdough bread. My positive experience has prompted me to write this raving review and mini guide.

Sourdough loaf baked in the La Cloche baking dome
Sourdough loaf baked in the La Cloche baking dome

What is the La Cloche baking dome?

  • Unglazed stoneware baking dish which consists of a clay base and domed lid
  • Measures 27.9 cm x 27.9 cm x 19.7 cm
  • Weighs 4.1 kg and is heavy enough to retain heat for the baking process
  • Ideal for a 1 kg round loaf

How does the baking dome work?

  • The baking dome traps steam from the dough within the dish.
  • The clay pot is porous and moisture is trapped, but also conducted away from the surface as the bread bakes.
  • The only initial treatment you will need to give the bread cloche is to brush the bottom with vegetable oil (sunflower oil for example) to give it a light coating. The inside of the bottom piece (the bell-shaped top part of the dish) doesn’t need it.
  • To use it, turn out your proved loaf into the preheated clay baker and bake the bread in the covered dome.

Tips when using the La Cloche clay baker

  1. Always heat the clay baking dome with the oven, from cold to hot. Don’t put the clay baker in an already hot oven.
  2. Never make the mistake to spray the hot clay surface with cold water.
  3. In general, don’t do anything to cause the clay baker to suffer any sort of thermal shock in order to prevent it from cracking.
  4. Use a thin layer of semolina or corn meal in the interior base before you turn out your bread onto the clay bottom in order to prevent sticking.
  5. Uncover the bread loaf for the last 10 minutes of the bake to strengthen the crust.

Why buy the La Cloche baking dome?

  • Bread aesthetics
    Make better looking loaves of bread in your oven at home as the dome mimics a baker’s oven. If you are baking in a standard home oven, using the stoneware baking dome will almost definitely improve the aesthetics of your loaves.
  • Crust and crumb perfection
    Achieve a sublime golden-brown bread crust and a chewy and moist crumb.
  • It’s easy
    The La Cloche baking dome is easy to use, maintain and clean. You don’t need a baking stone, you don’t need to introduce water into the oven for steam, and you don’t need to dampen the cloche. All the moisture you need comes from the dough and is trapped inside.

 

Best bread cutting boards

 

Investing in a good-quality bread cutting board should be a no-brainer for home bread bakers. It’s one of the most commonly used pieces of equipment in my kitchen, so a good quality board is essential. Having used this beautiful but entirely unpractical chopping board until recently, the breadcrumb mess it left behind finally got to me and I invested in a new bread cutting board – with crumb catcher.

Acacia Handled Wooden Cutting Board
Acacia Handled Wooden Cutting Board

Having now done my research, the best bread cutting board have a few things in common:

  1. The material. It has to be wood. The usual advice for chopping boards is to go for hardwood end grain boards as they are easy on knife edges and least likely to warp. As I’m looking for a crumb catcher type design, my bread board of choice has to be made from sustainably sourced hardwood.
  2. The shape. It has to be big. Some of the loaves I bake are pretty substantial, so a small cutting board is too small for big sourdough loaves and large rye tin breads.
  3. The design. It has to catch crumbs and luckily there are some great boards designed just for that purpose.

Some of  the best bread cutting boards

Skagerak Bread Board

With a design different to most other crumb-catching boards I’ve seen, this bread board is as practical as it is decorative.

Skagerak Brottablett Pantry
Skagerak Brottablett Pantry

Skagerak Pantry Bread Board, material: teak (sustainably sourced), dimensions: 43 x 25 x 3 cm, weight: 1.2 kg

Wüsthof bread cutting board

If you already own a Wüsthof bread knife, you could get this top quality Wüsthof bread cutting board to suit.

Wuesthof Bread Cutting Board
Wüsthof Bread Cutting Board

Wüsthof bread cutting board, material: thermo beech & metal tray, dimensions: 40 x 23 x 3 cm, weight: 3.1 kg

Bread Matters Scottish Hardwood Bread Boards

Bread Matters sell bread boards which are handcrafted from local, sustainably sourced hardwood (oak and beech) in Lanarkshire. Bread Matters bread boards, material: oak or beech wood, dimensions: 40 x 29 x 2 cm

What’s your bread board like, share your tips!

Best Bread Making Books – My Favourites

 

With so much choice of bread making books out there, it’s hard to find the one book that’s right for you. I’ve bought my fair share of bread books and they are all wonderfully decorative for my kitchen shelf. However, there is only a handful of books I feel really close to and use on a regular basis. So, here they are – my top four bread baking books.

My selection of the best bread making books

Before I jump into the list, a quick word on the best bread making book for beginners. For those new to bread baking, I would recommend to start with the first book listed below. Bread Matters is a wonderful book explaining the process of bread baking in a clear and uncomplicated way. There are plenty of bread recipes for both yeast and sourdough breads, all of which are easy-to-follow. It includes a handy list of flours and their respective properties, it explains the various bread ingredients and techniques in detail and is full of practical advice for the home baker.

Bread Matters: Why and How to Bake Your Own (Andrew Whitley)

For people passionate about real bread, organic ingredients and sourdough baking. Bread Matters thoroughly explains every aspect of bread making, which ingredients are necessary and which aren’t, provides troubleshooting advice and features a superb selection of recipes. My favourite recipe in the book is Borodinsky Bread, a Russian-style rye bread with coriander seeds, molasses and malt extract.

Do Sourdough: Slow Bread for Busy Lives (Andrew Whitley)

The ultimate guide to sourdough baking, the Do Sourdough bread making book includes step-by-step instructions to making your own sourdough starter as well as recipes for basic loaves, sourdough pizza and more. This is the best sourdough bread book out there, helping to demystify the sourdough process and offering practical troubleshooting advice.

Flour, Water, Yeast, Salt: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread (Ken Forkish)

For beginners and more advanced bakers alike, it’s for everyone who wants to bake a top notch loaf at home. The book contains the best introduction to home bread baking I’ve come across so far and puts a lot of emphasis on two crucial factors which tend to be frequently brushed over: the importance of time and temperature during the proving process. Recipes range from basic yeasted breads right through to complex levain-based breads and pizzas. My favourite bread is the Overnight Country Blonde, a pure natural sourdough loaf.

Rustikale Brote aus Deutschen Landen (Gerhard Kellner)

For German speakers only I’m afraid. This German bread recipe book contains about 40 recipes for traditional German breads, mainly using wheat, spelt and rye flours. It’s a great book with clear instructions and easy-to-follow recipes. My favourite bread is ‘Vollkornbrot mit Sonnenblumenkernen’ a deliciously moist loaf with roasted sunflower seeds. You can find an English version of this recipe for German sunflower seed bread over here.

What are your favourite bread making books? Let me know!

Valentine Baking Gift Ideas 2019

 

Are you looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for your loved one? Is your loved one into baking? I have the perfect Valentine baking gift ideas for you!

I love practical gifts, so here are my top picks for your baking-loving Valentine 🙂

And if you are thinking of baking something yourself, there are some excellent heart-shaped essentials to help you bake up a storm, the perfect baking accessories for your Valentine’s Day baking gift.

Heart on a Plate - Emma Marsden

If you are struggling for heart-shaped food recipes… “Heart on a Plate” by Emma Marsden

Gift Ideas for Bread Lovers

 

Looking for the perfect present for a bread lover? I put together this collection of gifts for bread lovers to cater for the passionate breadie in your life.

As a passionate bread baker and advocate I’m lucky to have received many bread related gifts over the past few years. Here are my gift ideas for bread lovers.

Best Gifts for Bread Lovers

My favourite gifts are practical things I can use day-t0-day.

Side plates

Shop around for decorative side plates – perfect for bread lovers who, like me, eat bread with every meal.

Royal Doulton Fable Side Plates
Decorative Side Plates

Bread cutting board

Does the breadie in your life have a crumb problem? A choosing a good bread board in a recent post.

Mitheis bread cutting board
Mitheis bread cutting board

Bread basket & napkin

A lovely gift combo – combine a wooden bread basket with a stylish bread napkin, then fill it with a fresh loaf of rustic sourdough bread.

Wooden bread basket
Wooden bread basket
GreenGate Bread Basket Napkin
GreenGate Bread Basket Napkin

Fresh bread keeper bags

These 100% cotton bread keeper bags are great for storing or transporting bread.

'Fresh Bread Keeper' Bread Bag
‘Fresh Bread Keeper’ bread bag (100% cotton)

Toast – The Cookbook

A fabulous book not to be mistaken for a bread making book. sourdough toast recipes if you are looking to explore.

Toast - The Cookbook by Raquel Pelzel
Toast – The Cookbook by Raquel Pelzel

Toast Coaster Set

A set of eight natural cork coasters, this toast coaster set looks like a mini loaf of bread. Perfect for weekend brunches.

Toast It Coaster Set
Toast It Coaster Set

What did you get for the bread lover in your life? Let me know.

Oh, and I also put together a list of gifts for bread bakers in a separate post. Happy gifting!

Gifts for Bread Bakers & Bread Making 2019

 

My passion for bread baking and all things #realbread have had the nice side effect of getting lovely bread related gifts for birthdays and for Christmas. Over the years, I’ve received many great gifts – some educational, some decorative, some unusual, unique and quirky. If you are looking for Christmas gift ideas for the bread baker in your life, this guide to the best gifts for bread bakers and bread baking should be helpful. There are lots of bread making gifts to choose from and here are my top gift ideas for bread bakers.

1. Bread making books

Bread making books are brilliantly inspirational and educational gifts for bread bakers of all levels. Here are my top picks and all-time favourite bread books which have been with me all the way.

Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own
Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own
The Handmade Loaf
The Handmade Loaf: Contemporary Recipes for the Home Baker

2. Clever bread making tools

These bread making gifts are for bakers who are looking to up their bread baking game.

  • A brilliant bread baking tool is the here.
  • One bread baking accessory I cannot recommend highly enough is the La Cloche baking dome, a stoneware baking set with a base and domed lid. Baking with the La Cloche dome will do wonders for the aesthetics of bread loaves, delivering brilliantly crisp crusts and a soft, evenly baked crumb.
  • For those of us with cold kitchens which make proofing bread loaves, and sourdough loaves specifically, a lengthy and sometimes difficult process. Let me introduce the Brod and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer which doubles up as yoghurt maker and slow cooker.
Lékué Silicone Bread Maker
Lékué Silicone Bread Maker
La Cloche baking dome
La Cloche baking dome
Folding Proofer
Brod & Taylor Folding Proofer

3. Bread baking gift sets

This can be a really nice gift idea for budding bread bakers. Put together a bread making kit gift including a mixing bowl, dough scraper, baking cloth and a bread baking book. It makes for a thoughtful and decorative gift to get a newbie baker off to a great start!

Assemble a gift basket for bread bakers:

4. A grain mill for serious bakers

The perfect gift for those serious about bread baking. Grinding flour at home and using fresh flour for bread baking makes a baker’s homemade goods even more flavoursome. Choose a quality and versatile grain mill for the best results!

  • Komo Fidibus Grain Mill
    A medium-sized, electric grain mill from Germany. High-quality, solid beechwood casing, stunning good looks, grinds all grains.
Grain Mill
Komo Fidibus Grain Mill

5. Accessory gifts for bread bakers

Some of the most useful gifts I’ve ever received were bread accessories for storing and serving bread. Here are some practical and decorative ideas for bread accessory gifts.

Wesco bread bin
Wesco bread bin

6. Bread photography

I love taking pictures of everything I bake and this book has helped me advance my bread photography.

Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling

7. Artisan bread baking courses

A brilliant gift to give! Here are some bread baking courses I can recommend:

8. Homemade Bread Gifts for Bakers

Finally, if you want to give something truly unique, personal and homemade, prepare a sourdough starter, bake a tasty sourdough loaf or bake a homemade Christmas bread gift.

Have fun choosing! I’m sure there are many more brilliant gifts for bread bakers out there, so let me know if you come across something special. I’ll add it to the list 🙂