New Year - new skill ........... SOURDOUGH.

For years now I've been making Bannocks, which are basically flour, salt, baking powder and water. They are easy to make in the field and both tasty and filling but the fly in the butter milk is the need for baking powder to be used as the rising agent. Or more to the point almost anywhere in the world we can obtain salt and flour as these are staples, but baking powder may not be as readily available so what alternative??

Baking powder certainly wasnt easily avialable for the early settlers in America or the gold rush pioneers who scratched the Alaskan soil seeking pay dirt. For these people a replacement or maybe a predecessor to baking powder or yeast was SOURDOUGH starter sometimes called Wild Yeast.

As I say I've made Bannocks for years, tried various recipes from tne standard mix and including everything from beer bread to banana bread, so for the new year I decided to give Sourdough a try.

Starter. The trick with sourdough is the starter, this is essential and easy to make taking only time!! Start your starter with 1 cup of flour and one cup of water, mix together and set it aside for 8 hours. Add another cup of flour and water and leave for 8 hours. Finally add another cup of flour and water mix and set aside over night.

Come morning your mix will or should be a bubbly mass with a seperated layer of murky looking water on the surface. If it is excellent thats what we want.

Now to make our dough ............

We'll use what I call the 2'n'6 recipe, this is 2 cups of starter, 2 cups of water and 6 cups of flour .......... oh and a teaspoon of Salt!!

So add two cups of starter to a mixing bowl (and make sure once you do you feed your original starter in the starter container with one or two cups of flour and water to ensure you have starter for next time) then add the rest of the ingredients and mix - you dont need to knead it and mess around just stir it all together and once you have a doughy lump put the bowl aside (cover it) in a warm place for 8 or more hours .......... this will allow the dough to prove and double in size!!

Next morning ..........or the evening - preheat your oven and the cooking pot at max (500 degrees) for about twenty minutes. Flour a work top and your hands - pour/scrape out your dough and then fold it over itself from each corner, this is all the kneading you do. Now swiftly place the dough into your cooking pot and replace lid.

Cook this for 20 minutes then remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes or until done.

Final loaf should be solid on the outside, with a good stiff crush and bubbly/airey on the inside.


To my mind, thus far, my sourdough reminds me of crumpets which is really nice and I throughly recommend you try it for yourself. Sourdough may not replace Bannocks for the bushcrafter due to the time constraints but for a long term camp with limits supplies they are a great alternative.


moose said...

nice one gary. i made some last year tasted yummy. the thing with sourdough is that the starter lasts all you have to do is feed it. you can split an established starter to give to a friend and this did indeed happen. i think when andy visited me last year i gave hime mine. btw you can freeze it it will go dormant just thaw out and feed enjoy the bread

Survivall said...

Hello mate - yep your right, my starter is now a week old and I've had three loaves out of it and have one proving now ......... I love the idea of it, I've even read you can make a more solid starter by keeping aside a ball of dough, this is what the sour doughs did as opposed to the more liquidy starter.

Hope you guys are ok mate!

Richard Law said...


I make sourdough all the time. Very similar method to yours, using a cast iron casserole as the cooking pot. My cooking method is slightly different. Get it all v hot. Put in sourdough, but then I cook for 55 minutes with the oven truned back down to 180 C then take lid off for 5 mins only at the end (21 hour cooking total. Gives a right chewy crust.

Kind regards,