There are many stories and myths that surround the word sourdough and where it came from. Here in Alaska the legend (or one of the many) is that the term sourdough started in the gold rush era. A time when many of the miners rushing to Alaska had no access to dried yeast to leaven their bread. They created the first sourdough starter by catching natural yeast in a flour and water mixture. The mixture was kept warm in their saddle bags and fermented. The resulting dough had an acidic or sour smell and taste. The longer the starter was kept, the stronger the flavor of the sourdough.
Colloquially, the term also refers to a veteran inhabitant of Alaska; if you weathered a certain number of winters, you were called a sourdough.
This is the Rainy Pass sourdough starter that I started when I got here about a week ago. It has not matured much yet but I decided to give bread a try.
Rustic Sourdough Bread
by King Arthur Flour co.
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
Mix all ingredients and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Divide dough into two balls and shape. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and let rise until puffy. Make two deep diagonal cuts in the top with a serrated knife, then place in a 425 degree oven until top is a deep, golden brown about 25-30 minutes.
Let it cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!