The great push by pioneers to settle the wild frontier was aided by this simple staple, insuring survival and defeating hunger. Some 175 years ago, Westward expansion succeeded, due mainly to the baking ingenuity of pioneer women who created the process of making sourdough bread out of necessity. The rest is history!
My Grandma made sourdough bread from 100 year old sourdough starter passed down three generations. It’s too bad that tradition ended when she left this world in 1983. Grandma would slice it thick, long before anyone heard of Texas Toast, smear butter on it and brown the bread in a hot cast iron skillet, then serve it with either Steen’s syrup, fresh canned pears, or just a basic cinnamon sugar sprinkled over top. She would also make a helluva French Toast with eggs, whole milk, vanilla and almond extract, and cinnamon sugar blended together, pan frying the dipped bread in butter. It smelled like Heaven … it tasted like it was from beyond Infinity.
12 cups all purpose flour
1 cup Crisco shortening
1 cup soften butter
2 cups sourdough starter (follow my recipe in the Sides section of DivineCaroline’s Home and Food column)
4 cups lukewarm water
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 large flour sifter
2 large mixing bowls (one greased for rising process)
1 linen cloth cover (to cover bowl of rising bread)
Several baking bread loaf pans (for 18 ounce size bread dough loaves, and greased thoroughly)
1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda, sifting thoroughly into mixing bowl.
2. Blend in Crisco shortening and butter into flour mixture, squeezing together with your hands until flour, Crisco and butter is granulated like specks of coarse sand.
3. Add Sourdough Starter and lukewarm water. Knead together till dough is gathered into a smooth ball (add more flour if needed to achieve this goal).
4. Place dough ball into large greased bowl and cover with linen cloth, place aside on warm, room temperature counter space, letting the dough rise until it triples in volume.
5. When your dough rises to volume desired, punch it hard to deflate. Proceed to roll again into smooth ball, then cut it into 18 ounce portions. Roll each portion into logs that fit your greased loaf pans end to end.
6. Let’em rise till bread dough reaches slightly above the rim of the loaf pan, then bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes (Sourdough Bread should be a bold rich color of golden brown). Let cool 30 minutes before removing from loaf pan and slicing.
7. You now have Sourdough Bread just like Grandma use to bake. Now have a big slice and enjoy a taste of history!