Cookin' With Leo
Makin' Sourdough Biscuits
On the other hand,
Makin' Sourdough Anything
Awhile back, I was tellin' ya'll about My Great Great Grandpa's Uncle Billy Bob who was a cook, of sorts, on them long ago Cattle Drives. Well, as the family stories go Uncle Billy Bob was hung fer Buffalo rustlin' (family don't bring up Uncle Billy Bob in refined conversations, so I have to find out all this for myself). Moreover, now I finally figured out how come that poor soul got off on the wrong foot, so to speak. After scroungin' around in some of grandma's old recipes I ran across this long ago, sourdough recipe writ by (his own) hand. And now I can understand his theivin' ways. Seems them Cattle Drive Cooks had a rough time of it. Cookin' out there in them wide-open spaces in all sort of weather ain't likely to be the kind of work a guy might want as his life's ambition. And, since all Cattle Drive Cooks had to please a dogone rough and rowdy bunch of cowboys, he had to come up with some pretty good cookin'. Readin' his recipe for makin' sourdough on the trail seems to illicit all sort of visions of ornery times. First thing he says to do is find a ol' 50-pound nail keg. In that he made a mixture of flour and water, and added a pinch (a pinch, wonder why?) of salt, a potato and/or some vinegar. That was covered with a piece of old horse blanket (that kept the buzzards, and other critters from gettin' into it) and set out in the sun for a couple of days to ferment. Then he says he threw that first batch out since that was just to 'season' the nail keg. And, he started all over the same way again.
When the second batch was ready and suitable, he could begin making biscuits. All he had to do was use some of that sourdough with more flour and water. The sourdough was his 'yeast' to make his biscuits fluffy. And, he does go on to say that on them cold and blustery nights out on the plains he had to take that nail keg of sourdough to bed with him so it would not get too cold or freeze and quit 'workin'. Can you imagine sleepin' with a nail keg full of 'smelly' sourdough? An' beside that, some of them cattle drives lasted fer months. Sure tells me why poor ol' Uncle Billy Bob went off the deep end. Well, anyway after readin' all that long explanation about how to 'start' the sourdough and considerin' all our modern conveniences we got nowadays I came up with a much better way to make a sourdough starter that you can use for makin' biscuits or bread and you won't have to sleep with it either.
So let's get started:
Use 1 packet of dry yeast.
2 cups warm water, it should not feel hot to the skin.
2 cups all purpose flour
Use a glass or earthenware bowl to mix the ingredients. Mix the yeast and water until it is well blended and then add the flour and make sure it is all dissolved, no lumps. Cover the bowl with cheesecloth or a light dishtowel; do not use plastic wrap or tight covers. This mix wants to 'breathe'. Store in a warm place in the kitchen, a good place is probably above the cabinets where the air is calm and it is warm close to the ceiling. Keep away from air conditioning vents, the yeast won't work if it is chilled. During the next 48 hours stir the mix a couple of times. It should bubble and increase in volume a little, but don't expect it to rise like bread dough. After 48 hours you can store it in the refrigerator. If you notice a clear liquid separating out just stir it back in. When you use some of the sourdough to make biscuits or bread just stir in equal parts of flour and water (to replace what you used) and you will always have your 'starter'. Just let it stand overnight in a warm place and you can store it back in the fridge till next time. Never add anything else to the starter but flour and water, no flavors, no salt, no pepper, no nothing, just flour and water.
Now are you ready for some sourdough biscuits?
Ok, this will make about a dozen
1 cup flour.
11/2 teaspoons sugar.
1 teaspoon baking powder.
¼ teaspoon salt.
¼ cup butter.
1 cup sourdough starter.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the starter. Stir with a wooden spoon until all of the flour is blended well with the starter. Flour a board and your hands generously and scoop out the mixture onto the board. Knead it enough to make a smooth dough. Pat the dough out to a thickness of about ½ inch and then cut with a biscuit cutter or a small inverted glass. Set the biscuits on a slightly greased cookie sheet and set them close with the sides just touching, this will make a pan of pull apart biscuits. If you want them thinner and crisper, then brush melted butter on both sides and place them apart in the pan. Set the pan aside for about ½ hour and let them rise. Place in the oven and let them bake for about 20 minutes or until browned.
Serve immediately with hot coffee, and pass the butter and jam.
We'll fix some sourdough bread next time. Ya'll have to remember I'm Union and I only do one thing at a time, otherwise I might run out of work and miss out on my great pay and pension plan here at Pencilstubs.
Take Care Now, Ya'heah!