Monday, November 1, 2010

Sourdough! And Give-Aways!

Read to the bottom of the post if you want to enter the give-away.

A couple of months ago Sherm told me about the fine folks at Sourdough International. You can find their sidebar advert over there>>>>> The effort was started by Dr. Ed Wood, a pathologist who stumbled upon sourdough cultures in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. Dr. Wood proceeded to collect samples of sourdough from around the world, and now sells these to people like us.

Dr. Wood recently sent me some samples to review, along with his book, Classic Sourdoughs. The book is well written and easy to understand, but the best part is that it totally de-mystifies all of the bunk and hoo-hah that have grown up around sourdough culture. All this because we can trust Dr. Wood's training as a pathologist.

I tried the San Francisco sourdough culture. It is composed of a bacteria culture (which contributes the sour tang) paired with a wild yeast (which provides the leaven). The two working together make the magic symbiotically. The culture took off within the first 24 hours after hydrating, and within three days I was cooking. Here's a picture of my sourdough pancake batter after fermenting overnight:

The pancakes were much more chewy than baking powder pancakes. We added applesauce, and the tart apple made a nice compliment to the very distinct sourdough tang.

I also made sourdough bread today. Here's a picture of the culture after sitting overnight, ready to knead up with flour:

Dr. Wood is responsible for providing reliable cultures. His samples took off immediately. I am responsible for learning how to bake. This I am still learning how to do. The bread turned out reasonably, but not yet wonderful. Much of the challenge is being able to control the thermal environment. I live in a drafty old house and winter is setting in.

Naturally I have many more thoughts to share about sourdough, but let us end here with a challenge. Share with us a recipe or foodways tradition in your family that ties back to Mormon pioneers, at least one hundred and ten years ago. Identify the name of the person your tradition ties to, and a few details about that person. I'll post again in three days. Any comments following will be put in the running. The winner gets one of Dr. Wood's cultures, and a runner up will get a PBW apron!

On your mark, get set, GO!


Sherm said...

I've two to offer. Both are very plain and simple, reflecting scarce resources. I got them through my grandmother. She would have received them from her mother, Mary Hickley Welch. Mary was born in SLC but grew up at Cove Fort. Later she and her husband (and my grandmother) were part of the last LDS colonization, in 1900 to the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming.

The first is Hard Pudding.
2 1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C milk
1 ham bone.
Mix together flour and salt. Add enough milk to make a bread-like dough. Knead. Roll it in a cheesecloth in a loaf shape. Boil for 3 hours with the ham bone. Serve hot, sliced, with butter and sugar.
You have to grow up with this to think it good.

The second is Lumpy Dick
1 quart milk
1 cup flour
1 egg

Heat milk in top of a double boiler. Blend egg into flour until lumps are fine. Stir egg/flour mixture into milke and cook 5-10 minutes. Serve as hot cereal. Use cream and sugar as desired.
I'll eat it to remember the past but can't say it is a favorite.

An aside - Make yourself a proofing box from a plastic bin to help keep your bread dough warmer while it proofs. An electric oven with just the light on or a gas oven with the door cracked open is a great place to proof your sourdough start over night.

Jana said...

Heyyyy, you changed the parameters! Well, here's hoping you'll find Borden's Meat Biscuits as interesting as I. :D

MissC said...

My uncle kept a start whose ancestry was at least 100 years old, and that was about 35 years ago. His sourdough biscuits were the epitome of tenderness, and when he fried them, they became scones of crispy outside, tender but chewy inside, and were a dream with homemade strawberry jam. They were in demand at all family reunions.

Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup of start set out the night before.

Add 1 cup of buttermilk and 1 cup of flour to the start and mix it well. In the morning, about two to four hours before you need to bake or fry them, add the following: 1/2 tsp of salt, 1 T of sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. soda (I think he used cream of tartar for the baking powder. I never detected any off or metallic taste in his biscuits or scones. I use cream of tarter in place of baking powder myself, and it is not only appropriate for the time frame, but what was originally used in the 1920s-1950s.), and 1/2 cup of flour, and stir this into the sponge.

On a mixing board, measure out 1 1/2 cups of flour, and make a well in it. Stir the sponge into this well, gradually incorporating all the flour into the starter/dough.

When well-mixed place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for three hours. Punch down and knead again lightly. Roll out to 1/2 inch or at least 3/4 inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter.

Dip each biscuit in a little bacon grease or oil. Place in a pan with sides touching each other. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Serve warm.

You can also fry these in hot oil, at 365 degrees.

Honey butter or strawberry jam are the preferred accompaniments.