The yeast you can do is help us celebrate today’s food holiday: April 1st is National Sourdough Bread Day, and that’s no joke!
Today also marks a quarter of a year for our project. We’re 25% finished! Woo-hoo! Which means we still have 75% to go, of course, and that’s a sobering thought. But we’ll just keep taking this one day at a time, and we shall persevere. Mark my words.
Sourdough dates back to ancient Egypt, around the year 1500 BC. It is the oldest form of leavened bread, and was discovered by accident when somebody left the bread dough out too long, enabling wild yeasts in the air to settle into the mix, causing it to ferment. I’m not naming names, but that Tut character was always a bit flaky, if you ask me. By the way, a leavening agent is any substance added to dough to make it foam, causing it to lighten and soften. Once the Egyptians learned that they could make a starter – a mixture of flour, water, and sugar left out for a few days until it begins to ferment – and keep it going indefinitely, sourdough became the bread of choice for hundreds of years, until beer and then cultured yeast were substituted. Sourdough starters are often passed down through families, and can be kept “alive” for decades if cared for properly. All you’ve got to do is add equal parts of flour and water to the refrigerated starter dough every couple of weeks. Talk about leftovers that never disappear! Pioneers in the West relied on sourdough starter as a ready source of fresh bread while on their adventures panning for gold in Alaska and California. In fact, legend has it that Alaskan miners slept with their starters to keep them from freezing. Legend also has it they slept with their dogs because women were scarce, but that’s a story for another blog. Sourdough became synonymous with the California gold rush in 1849, and has been associated with San Francisco ever since.
I love sourdough bread, and usually pick that as my toast choice when dining out for breakfast. Tara can’t resist the sourdough pancakes from the Original Pancake House. You might say we both love the power of sour! We decided to honor San Francisco’s rich sourdough history by making clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls for dinner. These are a great invention: sturdy enough to withstand a thick soup, and delicious enough to eat afterwards! Which means fewer dishes to wash, too. Dinner was great!