Rosemary and Almond Sourdough Gems


I was eager to use my sourdough starter and too impatient to make a traditional loaf, so I made Rosemary and Almond Sourdough Gems. They are based on the Sourdough Gem recipe from Lon Walters' The Old West Baking Book.

I gleefully noticed this book in a lodge gift shop this summer while on a hiking trip in Glacier National Park with my family. This well researched collection of authentic old west pioneer recipes is also dabbled with trivia and stories. As a baker and a lover of baked things, it is fascinating to learn bits about the American baking tradition and how things have changed.

As small packages of conveniently dried yeast did not yet exist, the sourdough starter was a prized possession and a popular leavening agent. This book has many unique recipes which call for sourdough starter.

Gems were popular in this country long before the muffin and are now rarely heard of. These were heavier and denser than the typical muffin, baked at a higher temperature, and used unique baking pans to create a larger and squater product.

The original recipe writer included the note, "To a natural, healthy appetite no item of the gourmand's feast can be more tempting nor eaten with keener rellish."

I would agree, here is the the recipe with my modifications:

Rosemary and Almond Sourdough Gems

1 C sourdough starter
3/4 C buttermilk
2 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbl sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp fresh rosemary
2 tbl slivered almonds

Combine wet ingredients
Combine dry ingredients (everything else) in a separate bowl.
Add dry mixture one cup at a time to the wet ingredients until combined.
Knead briefly to form a nice dough.
Fill greased muffin cups nearly to the top with dough.
Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 15 to 20 min.
While cooling on a wire rack, brush tops with melted butter.

Serve warm with butter, mustard, or honey.