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Chuckwagon Sourdoughs

In researching cattle drives and chuckwagons for my book KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, of course I have to include sourdough biscuits. Coffee, beans and “sinkers” filled up many a belly before sunrise.

There was a reason Charles Goodnight included a spot for a sourdough keg in his wagon design. Cookie did not need eggs or milk to serve a Dutch oven full of hot bread. He only needed flour and water, and he could make several variations with what he had available in his mule-powered kitchen. In addition to biscuits, he made sourdough cornbread, flapjacks, fry bread, splatterdabs, or huckdummy, sourdough biscuits with raisins.

The sourdough used in earlier days grew from natural spring water paired with wild yeast and bacteria of the grain used to form active cultures that will rise. It is the oldest form of leavened bread, traced back to ancient Egypt. The simplest starter is flour, water, and sugar, and the older it gets, the richer and tangier the taste. Dried commercial yeast, available to cooks in the late 1800s, produces only one batch of bread. The sourdough starter can produce a variety of dough based goods for the lifetime of bakers.

From my book, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, I’m right in the middle of research. The sourdough starter is growing and I’ll be testing recipes over the next several weeks. The first batch of biscuits were exceptionally good with the wild plum jam I made from the plums we picked in July. Next up is sourdough splatterdabs!

No Rise Sourdough biscuits with wild plum jam.

1 cup flour
1 cup sourdough starter
1 tablespoon lard (or butter)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, if you got one

Mix all ingredients. Add small amounts of water until batter is desired
consistency. Pour small dabs onto a hot, greased griddle or cast iron
skillet. Cook until edges begin to look dry, flip and continue cooking
until dark golden brown. Serve hot with butter, syrup and jam.

For more information and tips on how to tend to your starter and for some great recipes, I recommend SOURDOUGH BISCUITS AND PIONEER PIES by Gail L. Jenner. You can find it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming book, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook. With over 100 recipes, cattle drive history, archival photos, and her own Texas ranch photography, you can bring a taste of the old West to your kitchen! Available now for preorder at all online bookstores. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas series for middle grade readers. She blogs every Monday at about the craft of writing and every Friday right here at Prairie Purview.