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Growing up in Alaska, I’ll be honest: I didn’t think much about bread. I mean, there was always a loaf when I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich or buttered toast. But I didn’t really think much about baking, or where our bread was from.
This past year, however, many of us have gotten into the bread-baking business. Heck, I still remember the sourdough starter craze of April/May 2020. That’s why I thought it would be fun to share an Alaskan recipe that rides the much-memed trend. This recipe for Alaskan sourdough bread bowls has a long heritage in The Last Frontier, and can be used to hold a number of other great dishes I’ll share soon enough.
If you’re curious about what makes Alaskan sourdough special and how to make your own Alaskan sourdough bread bowls, you’ve come to the right place!
What is Alaskan Sourdough?
You might wonder: what makes Alaskan sourdough different than any other sourdough? To be honest: you can use any sourdough starter in this recipe. But sourdough starter has a special history in Alaska, and you can actually buy Alaskan sourdough starter online if you want to honor that when making these bread bowls.
When prospectors seeking gold in Alaska set out, they soon learned that the normal ingredients they brought to bake bread didn’t fare well. Yeast and baking soda went bad and couldn’t handle the cold of brutal winters in The Last Frontier. But, during the California gold rush, French bakers had brought sourdough over from Europe – giving San Francisco its long sourdough heritage, still upheld Boudin bakery – and Alaskan miners soon discovered that sourdough starter could handle the tough conditions of a prospector’s life.
Miners often kept small pouches of their sourdough starter in pouches around their necks or on belts. This helped keep it at the right temperature to survive until they needed to bake bread. Those that survived the winter – both miner and starter – took the name of “Sourdough.” You can still hear old Alaskan locals called sourdoughs from time to time! (The opposite is a Cheechako, for someone who hasn’t made it through an Alaskan winter.)
So you see, Alaskan sourdough has its own unique story – and you can bring it right into your kitchen, so read on!
Step-by-Step Alaskan Sourdough Bread Bowl Recipe
In this section, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for making your own Alaskan sourdough bread bowls. At the end, you’ll find a recipe card you can save or print for future kitchen adventures.
Start by adding your dry ingredients – flour, sugar, and salt – in a bowl. Add the Alaskan sourdough starter and warm water, and stir to combine all ingredients.
Once the ingredients are mixed, transfer the mixture to a floured cutting board or countertop and knead your dough until it becomes soft and elastic. This should take about five minutes.
Next, transfer the dough back into the bowl. Cover it with a cloth or dish towel and leave the dough to rise for 1½ hours/90 minutes.
Remove your dough from the bowl, and back into your floured workspace. Punch the dough to remove any air bubbles then use a knife to quarter your dough into four parts. Roll each one into a ball.
Transfer these dough balls to a baking pan and let them rise another 40 minutes. After this, transfer them to a 400°F oven and bake until golden brown, roughly 35 minutes.
Once baked, remove the bread bowls from the oven and let them cool completely. This may take at least an hour.
To use these delightful Alaskan sourdough rolls as bread bowls, take a sharp knife and cut a circle in the top. Scoop out some of the inside of the bread bowl, and fill with your favorite stew, chili, or chowder!
- 3 C Flour
- 1 C Warm Water
- ½ C Alaskan Sourdough Starter
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Sugar
- In a bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar.
- Add the sourdough starter and warm water and stir to combine.
- Transfer to a floured surface and knead until you have a soft and elastic dough, for around 5 minutes.
- Return to the bowl, cover with a cloth and let it rise for 1½ hours.
- Punch the dough to release any air bubbles and using a sharp knife divide the dough into 4 pieces. Form each piece into a ball.
- Transfer to a baking pan and let them rise for 40minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Transfer the baking pan to te oven and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let them cool down completely.
- Once cooled down and using a sharp knife cut off the top and hollow out the center.
What to Serve in Your Alaskan Sourdough Bread Bowls
Now that you’ve got these delicious sourdough bread bowls, you can put any chili, chowder, or stew into them that you want! I’ll be working to add these recipes over the next few months, but here is some Alaskan inspiration:
- Moose chili – I always used to order chili-in-a-bread-bowl at the Alaska State Fair as a kid!
- Salmon or halibut chowder
- Salmon bisque
But as I said, you can enjoy any stew, chili, or chowder you like in these delicious little bread bowls – and as long as you’ve used Alaskan Sourdough, it’ll still count as an Alaskan recipe! 😉
(Note: These sourdough bread bowls may be able to handle a more liquid soup – rather than a stew, chili, or chowder – but I recommend using them for thicker dishes rather than more watery ones.)
Have any questions about making Alaskan sourdough bread bowls? Let me know in the comments!