Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sourdough Bread

It has been a beautiful day here in paradise.  The warm sun has been so nice!

It really makes my want to start planting veggies in the garden.  I did start some garlic and green onions in pots. I have them on the south side of the house so hopefully they will make it through the cool nights we have left before spring hits.

I decided last Sunday since Sunday's are cleaning/laundry day I was also going to make baking bread a part of the daily routine.  I figure it is a lot more fun than washing dirty clothes or scrubbing toilets.

For all of my childhood I have fond vivid memories of our Old Settlers Day Reunion in my home town.  Every year the most delicious chuck wagon meal would be prepared and enjoyed by everyone that came to town to celebrate Old Settlers.  If you have never gotten to experience chuck wagon food it should definitely be on your bucket list.

The two men that are the backbone of this celebration happen to be two of the greatest people I know. One being my grandfather Toppie and the other being Norm, Toppies best friend.  These two cowboys ( and when I say cowboy I'm not talking drug store, I mean the real deal!) decided they were getting older and wanted to still cowboy but decided the chuck wagon was where they needed to be.  So they went out and bought the necessities.  They had a fellow in town build them a chuck box which held pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. Then they rounded up some dutch ovens, coffee pots, tools etc.  Now these are not the dutch ovens you see Le Creuset selling these are large cast iron skillets with a lid that a fire can be built under and then coals placed on the lid to make it like an oven thus the name.

The dish that was always my favorite chuck wagon staple was sourdough biscuits.

If you have never had the chance to smell sour dough starter then you are missing the fondest childhood smell of mine. Every time I went to me grandparents house which was half a mile down the road from my house that intoxicating smell was the first thing to meet my nostrils.  Its sweet fermented yeasty smelling goodness brings a smile and a flood of memories every time I smell it.

The sourdough start Toppie used was from the Fortenberry's a local family in our county. They had kept this start alive from when their ancestors settled in Texas on wagons in the 1800s.  So this stuff was the real deal.  Toppie would roll out these light and fluffy biscuits and cut them with an old tin can, oil them and place them in the dutch oven.  The recipe he used was also from the Fortenberry family.

When I was in college I came home one weekend and decided I wanted to get some of this wonderful sourdough start.  So I  got the start and recipe and set out on a mission to make delicious sour dough breads.  

I remember when I moved to Sweetwater after finishing grad school in Lubbock how important my sourdough start was. I had to make sure it was buckled in the front seat safe and sound.

I had acquired some of my grandmothers green dansk pots and skillets. They were definitely vintage pieces and I wanted to display them so I used one of the pots that had a lid for my sourdough start.  Toppie kept his in a antique crock with a lid and I searched high and low at antique stores but could never find one just like his so I settled for the vintage green pot. It adds quite a pop of color on top of our refrigerator.

My start had gone for long periods of time without being used but when I open that lid it is always that sweet smelling aroma. Last summer when I moved to south Texas my dad and I decided it was time to make some biscuits.

My dad and I entered the Top of the Rock 4th Annual Goat cook-off here in paradise.  We had placed second the year before and won showmanship with Toppie's chuck box so we were on a mission to win best goat.  Since we had the chuck box again and all the dutch ovens we decided we needed to make biscuits.  They were a hit!  They were a perfect pouch for our delicious cabrito, we won!!

So since then I have made biscuits probably five times and decided after sharing my start at out local women's club that I should start making and selling loaves of bread.  I haven't sold a loaf yet but hopefully this summer I will be able to take some fresh sourdough loaves to the farmers market.

The sourdough recipe is very simple.

2 cups flour
3/4 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 t soda
3/4 cup sour dough
3/4 c buttermilk
1 T oil
1 T Karo

Mix well. When I make biscuits I do not roll out the dough the way my grandfather does, I do drop biscuits.  However when making loaves I do kneed for about 10 minutes.  Both ways you bake at 400 degrees. 18 min for the biscuits and depending on the size of loaf pan 30- 45 minutes.  This stuff is so delicious!! Here is the loaf I made today.

If you do not have a sourdough start there are tons of recipes online for making your own or if you can find someone that has one it is easy to take a small amount and turn it into your own pot of goodness.  You simply feed the start with equal parts of water, flour and sugar.

I hope you enjoyed your Sunday as much as I did!


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