Weather: 40 degrees, rain, yellow leaves are falling What I’m listening to: Celtic Bagpipes
Perhaps the most significant thing my home turf (Northern California) and Alaska have in common is a rich gold-mining heritage. The California Gold Rush (1848-1855) and the Klondike/Alaska Gold Rush (1896-1909) both brought with them one culinary masterpiece that has shaped both areas for generations: Sourdough. While California gold miners were called “49ers,” Alaskan miners were called “Sourdoughs.”
The summer after we graduated from college, my husband and I worked in an historic mining village turned fishing resort in the beautiful Eastern Sierras. I managed the little fisherman’s cafe there, and as a part of my job, I had to faithfully maintain the sourdough starter that resided in a ceramic crock in the kitchen. I learned to tend to it and feed it and to never use metal utensils or bowls with the precious sourdough. And, every morning, the owner would come in for the breakfast shift and make Sourdough Pancakes. I have craved them ever since.
And, now I live in the land of Sourdough. When we flew up to Alaska for the first time to interview for our current jobs, I ordered Sourdough Pancakes for breakfast and this vast, cold, new place seemed instantly familiar. So, in my quest to become a true Alaskan, I am revisiting sourdough in my own kitchen. I know it seems intimidating and high-maintenance, but this Northern-California girl is here to tell you that good sourdough is a treasure.
Pour the water into a two-quart glass, ceramic, or melamine jar or bowl
Add and dissolve the sugar and the yeast in that order
Stir (always with a wooden or plastic spoon) in the flour gradually
Cover the jar or bowl with a clean dishcloth and place it somewhere warm. Watch out! The starter will grow exponentially the first day and may overflow your container, so watch it closely.
Let it work anywhere from 2 to 5 days, stirring it about once a day as it will separate.
When the bubbling has subsided and a yeasty, sour aroma has developed, stir your starter once more and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. I use a tupperware container, but hope to get a crock soon. The starter should have the consistency of pancake batter.
Feeding Your Starter - Refrigerated Starter is relatively dormant once chilled and only has to be fed about every two weeks. Add 1 cup flour and 1/2 warm water and stir to combine. Cover and allow to sit in a warm place for 24 hours. Stir again and refrigerate.
Utilizing Your Starter - Follow recipe instructions for the amount of starter to use. Then, replace the amount of starter you took out with an equal amount. For example, if you made waffles and used 1/2c starter, replace with 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 warm water. Cover and allow to sit in a warm place for 24 hours. Stir again and refrigerate.
Want to make your sourdough starter, but every time I think about doing it I get a guilty feeling. I say that because I feel its cheating. I made a starter a couple of years ago with just water and flour and wild yeast from the atmosphere. So that's my problem.
2nd question. how do you increase the sour flavor in the sourdough bread? Sometimes I can't taste any sourness at all.
I made your crusty loaf in my dutch oven. Turned out well and very tasty. The family swooped down on it and it was gone in 30 seconds~~~~~~I just barely escaped with my life~~~~lol.
My disappointment was that it didn't crackle and pop. I am going to make the Cranberry and orange next, maybe it will crackle.
Glad I found your site I enjoy starting my day in Alaska~~~~~~burrrrrrrrrr
Take care, stay warm, and keep baking. God bless you and yours.
Thank you Maya for posting this really simple recipe for sourdough starter. I've made countless loaves of delicious sourdough bread since finding it, and wanted to pop in to your blog to let you know. Thanks again!
Love your blog. I've tried so many of your recipes and find them all perfect. I really want to incorporate this into my bread-making regimen on Sundays. Do you have any recipe suggestions for turning the starter into bread? Or is it something that can be "winged"? Other than bread (and pancakes that you mention), how else could someone incorporate this starter recipe into cooking? Any advice? Thank you again! And awesome job on this. Like I said, in love with your blog and shamelessly always keep a window of it up on my computer. :-)
Hi Lindsay. Thank you for your compliments and your questions. Happy to hear that all the recipes you’ve tried have been a hit! I especially loved your comment about keeping a window up on your computer… made me smile.
Great question... the cafe where I worked actually added some sourdough starter to a pancake mix to achieve sourdough pancakes. I am still in search of the perfect "from scratch" version of sourdough pancakes to share here on the site. :)
I've had my starter going for a few weeks now and its doing great. I also foung a sourdough pancake recipe on allrecipes.com that I like after 2 tweaks...first I cut the salt from 3/4 tsp to 1/4 tsp...and second I added some flour, right around 3/4 cup or so, for extra fluffy hot cakes....and I LOVE them...here is the link to the recipe I'm using for all pancake breakfasts now (but using my tweaks mentioned above)