Petersen: Sourdough |

Petersen: Sourdough

2018 — a grand new year. Time to discover, initiate, develop and otherwise take charge of … are you ready … sourdough.

Occasionally a restaurant will offer sourdough pancakes on their breakfast menu. But, having your own never-dying sourdough beast living in your refrigerator means you can offer a gourmet pancake breakfast to guests at any time. 

The following is from an old-time miniature-size recipe book called Cowcamp Cookery — A Splendid Batch of Western Recipes. 

For sourdough, you must have “starter,” which is a batch of flour and yeast that you can keep for years and years.  Some people brag that their starter started way back when their ancestors got off the boat and started to go west. From the following recipe, you can start your very own starter and thereby start a starter tradition in your own family.  

“As mentioned, starter can remain in the refrigerator for years.”


One-half cake compressed yeast or ½ package active dry yeast, 2½ cups lukewarm water, 1 tbsp. sugar and 2 cups flour.

In a bowl or jar (never, ever use metal containers), soften the yeast in ½ cup of the warm water, add the rest of the water, sugar and flour. Mix well. 

Let the covered bowl or crock stand for three days (especially if you own cats) at room temperature (78-80 degrees). Stir down daily.After three days, you may stash it in the refrigerator. 


Ready? In the evening, put 1 cup of the starter in a largish bowl. (Put the rest back into the refrigerator). 

Add 2 cups lukewarm water, about 2½ cups flour and 1 tbsp. sugar. Mix well. The mixture will be thick and lumpy. That’s okay. Not to worry. Cover the bowl and set in a warm place (not hot) overnight. 

Next morning, take 1 or 2 cups of mixture from the bowl you’ve left out overnight and put that cup or 2 cups back into the bowl you’ve left in the refrigerator.  Each time you set out sourdough starter overnight, you must always put back a cup or 2 into the refrigerator the next morning. It’s the law. 

Then, to the batter remaining in your left-outside-overnight-bowl, add one egg, 2 tbsp. cooking oil, ¼ cup instant milk or evaporated milk or cream.  Mix into batter thoroughly.

Then, in separate bowl, combine 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking soda and 2 tbsp. sugar. Mix well, pressing out the lumps of soda into a smooth dry mix. Fold this smooth mix into the batter gently. This will cause a foaming and rising action. Don’t be scared. Allow it to stand for a few minutes. If batter seems too thick, add a small mount of cream or liquid milk. Once satisfied with consistency, pour a pancake sized dollop on a hot, greased griddle.  Brown one side. Flip over to brown other side.  Sourdough requires a hotter griddle than conventional pancake batter. 

As mentioned, starter can remain in the refrigerator for years.  Some people name their starter with clever names such as “The Beast That Never Dies” or This Ain’t Your Sissy Dough.” 

Whenever you feel like serving sourdough pancakes for a meal, on the evening before, remove some of the starter lurking in your refrigerator and follow recipe directions above. But remember, always put some back into the refrigerator starter jar. It’s important to keep the undying beast viable.

In the Cowcamp Cookery booklet, there’s also a recipe for homemade chokecherry syrup — a perfect and impressive addition to the gourmet pancake breakfast meal.❖

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