Amazing as it sounds, Alaska Sourdough Soda bread is cheaper and easier to bake at home than it is to buy, even without a bread machine–unless you happen to live in close proximity to an excellent and extremely inexpensive bakery.
I got this recipe from Ruth Allman’s 1979 classic ”Alaska Sourdough“ a lovely volume that is equal parts cookbook and history. Like most of Allman’s recipes, this bread comes from the Alaska 49rs who made it with the starter they carried in their packs.
Since it requires no proofing, shaping or braiding and has only one rise, Sourdough Soda Bread is perfect for people on the go. Working people can put the dough together the night before,let it rise overnight in the fridge and bake it the following morning. As it excludes yeast and eggs this bread accomodates special diets though it doesn’t taste dietetic. Crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, Sourdough Soda bread is hearty, yummy and despite it’s name not even slightly tangy. And it’s great for kids. Let your kids help you make it , not todders– they will throw the batter all over the kitchen, but older children. A teenager could probably make the whole thing on his or her own.
Alaska Sourdough Soda bread is also extremely healthy. While my family thumbs up it’s collective nose at quinoa and brown rice, they will happily eat whole grains disguised as bread. The loaf I baked on Friday morning was gone well before lunch.
Of course, for Jews bread makes a meal. Bread requires netilat yadaim the ritual pouring water over the hands from a cup fashioned after the laver the High Temple Priests (Cohanim) once used. This reminds us that even the humblest dining table is an altar and eating is a holy act . A bread meal ends with Bircat Hamazon, the Grace after Meals when we thank Hashem for sustaining the entire world with “grace, kindness and mercy.’ The grace or in Yiddish bentsching is among the holiest of prayers . Our sages teach that a person who recites it’s words with careful concentration will not suffer poverty.
Good advice in tough economic times.
So here’s the recipe. Please let me know how it turns out.
Sourdough Soda Bread adapted from “Alaska Sourdough”
2 cups of sourdough starter (see previous post for recipe and instructions)
2 T oil
1 T sugar
1/2 t baking soda dissoved in 1/2 cup of water
4-5 cups of whole wheat flour
Mix starter, sugar and oil. Add flour and knead using a dough hook until a ball forms (under five minutes)
Spray two loaf pans with Pam .Put the dough into the pans.You’ll need to strech it a bit but don’t worry. It will rise and fill the pan.
The dough will rise in the baking pans. (use pans with high walls for larger slices)
Rising time can be three hours or more depending on kitchen temperature. Of course rising is quicker in a hot kitchen on a hot day. but note that starter rises more slowly than yeast. When I did an overnight refrigerator rise I let the dough sit for an additional hour before baking.
Preheat oven to 400 F or 200 C .
When the dough in the pan has doubled in bulk bake for 45 minutes or until browned on top and bottom.