Let’s Talk with Cheryl Hollon

Don’t Fool with my Sourdough
By Cheryl Hollon

It’s National Sourdough Day which is no April Fools’ Day joke with me. For my late father, it was a serious business.

Dad made the holiday cloverleaf dinner rolls for Easter with his usual exacting focus. It was a production effort that rivaled the D-Day landing for precision. Us kids stayed well out of his way. That is until we got old enough to act as cooking assistants. Then it was all hands on deck.

He was protective of his starter – it had its dedicated place in the refrigerator. He nurtured that starter as tenderly as a hen brooded her eggs. It was the first thing he checked each morning and the last thing every night.


He took that starter with him to deer hunting camp in Michigan with his hunting buddies. He also brought it along for a two-week family camping vacation on Cumberland Lake in Kentucky.

From what my mom recalls, he used a heritage San Francisco recipe. That particular one is the most famous sourdough bread made in the United States today. In contrast to sourdough production in other areas of the country, the San Francisco variety has remained in continuous production since 1849, with some bakeries able to trace their starters back to California’s Gold Rush period. Many restaurant chains keep it as a menu staple. Sourdough bread is a great side to your soup, stew, or toasted with your morning cereal.

Follow the link to this fantastic video if you want to give it a try.

What are your favorite treats for Easter?

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Comments

  1. We grew up in the Midwest great fresh breads of all kinds. In fact I never had store bought bread or saw it until 2nd grade we went to public school. Switched over from Catholic. They kids all had Wonder bread in lunches. We had home made bread. My eyes had never seen this soft floppy
    Wonder bread you buy in the store. 🙄 Sounds do crazy looking back.

    Gkathgoldin@yahoo.com

  2. I love all sorts of bread but am too darned lazy to make it myself. For Easter candy treats I like the basic Easter egg candy we got as a kid — don’t know what they were called but they bright colors with a hard sugary outer shell and soft inside, and individually wrapped. I also like those little speckled malted milk mini bird eggs.

    • cherylhollon says

      My favorite are Cadbury Cream Eggs. The ones in England are better than the USA ones, but I love both versions. Oh, also black jelly beans!

  3. Edith Maxwell says

    Lucky you to have a baker dad! I hope you saved some of his starter… I have kept mine alive through my hand surgeries when I can’t bake. Soon.

    • cherylhollon says

      Hi Edith, I’m impressed that you’ve managed to do so much during these surgeries, but necessity is the mother of invention. He was the only serious bread baker in the extended family. My grandfather loved store-bought ready-sliced Wonder Bread. Families are a rich source of material for writers.

  4. How well I understand the obsession with sourdough. It’s like having another family member or an adored pet. When my husband and I traveled west to New Mexico, he took along his starter. I was afraid we’d get pulled over and arrested for an open container in the car because our entire SUV smelled like booze!

    • cherylhollon says

      That’s so funny! I still find it unbelievable that he took that starter with us on a two-week camping trip at Lake Cumberland. He must have used a separate ice chest. I can’t imagine that my mom would let him share it with the other food. What a discussion that must have been.

  5. I had a bread maker machine for a short time during my child-raising years but then I abandoned it. Too much trouble. My husband likes English muffins so that his favorite choice in breads. I like cinnamon bread, seeded rye bread (my father’s favorite) and challah. For sandwiches we get those thin rolls but I try to avoid bread. When dining out, however, I can’t resist the bread basket. Your dad had a true passion, Cheryl.

    • cherylhollon says

      We’ve thought about a bread maker but every time I can see that it would be seldom used. We have a few ethnic bakeries here in St. Petersburg that I wouldn’t be happy to ignore — probably wouldn’t. LOL!

  6. maggietoussaint says

    The only form of bread I don’t like is rye bread, but these days I’m gluten free and eat gluten-free bread a few times a week, if that. With respect to sourdough bread, there was something particularly pleasing about the weight of it in my stomach and of course, I loved the taste. There was a time when I was a stay-at-home mom that I had a culture of bread growing in our fridge. I can’t remember what kind of bread that was, only that it was yummy. In a perfect world I would grow this sourdough in my fridge if I had the chance. Maybe we could figure out something like this for a retreat.

    • cherylhollon says

      Hi Maggie! Sourdough is vegan so its a bread I can serve to my youngest son and his wife. Although I don’t have celiac disease, I feel better when I restrict gluten. Oddly, I don’t get that bloated feeling from sourdough. So, it’s a win-win for me.

    • As someone who has celiac disease, I can tell you that it’s critical that all ingredients in the loaf must be gluten-free and that includes the starter. With that said, there are plenty of options on the web for gluten-free sourdough bread. We use Bob’s 1-1 and it works, but the loaf is very heavy and and a bit sticky. At some point, we might try making our own flour blend to get better results, especially since this fascination with sourdough has taken root in our house!

  7. I’m with the NY bagels… somehow, no matter how much I try, sourdough is not my favorite. I do think your father’s devotion to his starter was the sign of a true baker….. does anyone in the family have the starter now?

    • cherylhollon says

      No Debra, it was abandoned when he stopped baking about ten years ago — that skill didn’t pass on to any of us.

  8. I fell in love with sourdough bread in the 1970s when a friend brought some loaves back from San Francisco. We used to treat ourselves and have a few loaves shipped several times a year until sourdough bread finally made its way to east coast bakeries. Nothing beats sourdough bread except maybe a New York everything bagel. 😉

    • cherylhollon says

      As a kid, I thought it was absolutely ordinary for sourdough bread to be on the table for special occasions. I was thrilled when we could actually buy it in the grocery stores. My husband agrees with you on the New York everything bagels. Heaven!