Tuesday, April 29, 2014


So what's all the fuss about this old stinky blob on the kitchen counter?

Sourdough is said to have arrived in Alaska with the Klondike gold miners coming from San Francisco. It's a hardy combination of wild yeast and lactobacillus culture, far superior for bread-making than commercial "instant" yeast, and much more fun to have as a pet.

It's pretty hard to kill it so don't be intimidated by all the complicated information out there, although this particular strain doesn't enjoy palm trees and long walks on the beach. Tom started this batch in the mid 1980's from a friend's old starter. The second most common question in Alaska, after "so, how long have you lived here?" is "how old is your starter?". Trying to determine whether one is an "old sourdough" or just a "cheechako" is the state sport. Well, our old sourdough is still spry enough to come bursting out of the crock so we stopped telling it's age before it decides to turn into an old grump.

It's time to start training the starter for the next busy summer season. Tom makes the most wonderful waffles with it at our B&B and the sourdough regularly finds it's way into pancakes, bread and sometimes chocolate cake. It's a joy to use once it's bubbling nicely. We feed ours with water and white flour and let it ferment at room temperature so it's ready for any incarnation.  When we're not in the mood we tuck it into the fridge for another time. It doesn't mind spending time alone but is ready to eat after a few weeks of fasting. We warm it up and feed it gradually and it rewards us with spongy bubbles and a fresh, vinegar/beer aroma.

Tom's sourdough waffle magic
Happy sourdough bread

Just for once I'll let you have a recipe. You'll have to come to Fireweed Station for Tom's waffles because he won't give out the recipe, so as a conciliation how about some pancakes in your own home? Oh, I suppose you'll have to come stay with us for a blob of our starter to take home with you too...

Alaskan Sourdough Pancakes

1/4 Cup Cornmeal
½ Cup All purpose Flour
½ Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2T Flax Meal mixed with 6T water.
1t Salt
1 ½ t Baking Soda
½ t Baking Powder
¼ Cup Apple Sauce
3/4 Cup soy milk & 1 Cup Sourdough.  

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix all wet ingredients together.  Preheat griddle.  Add wet to dry and mix briefly.  Pour ladlefuls onto oiled hot griddle. Ask me if you really need to know more on how to cook pancakes.

Makes about 8 pancakes.

(This recipe can be halved, but not doubled very successfully.)

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