Monday, January 19, 2009
Sourdough Skillet Loaves
Early frontier cooking was greatly influenced by the place they were located at the time. Families had to obtain the bulk of their food according to what was available locally and in season. Other supplies that were purchased tended to be products that could be shipped easily such as flour, beans and sugar. Any other products were either too expensive to consider or unavailable because they could not withstand the shipping. Pioneers were also limited by what they typical cooked with and were usually limited to using frying pans, pots and splits. Cast iron was durable and easily obtained in those days.
Many of these pioneers came from families that had sourdough starter passed on from generation to generation. One example is the Boudin family who in 1849 discovered the Wild yeasts in the San Francisco air had added a unique a flavor to their traditional sourdough.
This recipe below uses baking soda with the starter to produce a loaf that can be prepared in more rustic conditions and to produce a loaf which is very good in its own right. The frying pan I used was too large to make a nice shaped loaf. A ten- inch frying pan or dutch oven would give much better results
1 cup sourdough starter
2 !/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons honey or sugar
7 to 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons cornmeal
Combine the starter, water, sugar or honey and 5 cups flour in a large mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or wet towel; let the mixture stand at room temperature for 12 hours or overnight.
Stir in oil. Combine salt, soda and 1 cup flour. Stir into dough; beat until smooth.
Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Turn dough onto a floured surface; continue to work in flour until dough is stiff enough to knead. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).
Divide in half. Roll each into a 10-inch round.
For each loaf, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy 10-inch cast-iron skillet with heat-resistant handle. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cornmeal. Place dough in skillet. Turn over to coat top with butter and cornmeal. Let rise 15 minutes.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.
Makes 2 loaves.