Recipe: Sourdough Bread
The legendary loaf baked over a fire
- 1 cup sourdough
- 500 g (1 lb) 4 cups flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp melted butter (trappers use bear fat)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp evaporated milk or water, plus more for getting the dough to the desired consistency
The trappers, rangers and gold-seekers of northern Canada used to be called sourdoughs. They would spend long periods alone in the wilderness. The starter sourdough was sacred to these quirky woodsmen, because being able to bake bread without yeast meant they would never go hungry. During the hard winters they would keep the dough (which does not tolerate frost) in their beds or close to their warm bodies. A man was awarded the title of Old Sourdough only when he had managed to keep the starter sourdough alive throughout an entire winter in the forest. There are families in Canada and Alaska who proudly claim that the starter sourdough they still use for bread-making was prepared by a distant ancestor – perhaps at the time of the gold rush.
Knead all the ingredients into a dough on a floured surface. If the dough is too dry, add some water or milk. Put the dough into a greased pan, cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until its volume has doubled.
Form a flat cake out of the dough. Then bake it in the pan, covered with a lid, for about 1 hour.
It is easier to form a loaf out of the dough and bake it in a Dutch oven, a clay oven or like the Large Loaf on page 154 of Cook Wild: Year-round cooking on an open fire).You can also bake this bread in a tagine or a fire pot (earthenware pot with a lid).
The bread is done when it sounds hollow when you tap it.
Bowl; glass or plastic container for the sourdough; one of the following: pan, hot stone, Dutch oven, fire pot, clay baker or clay oven.
According to the cooking utensils you use.