An excellent lead popped up today from Boingboing for anyone who wants to kick up their no-knead bread a notch:

“For the price of a stamp, Carl Griffith’s Oregon Trail will mail you a 150+-year-old sourdough starter culture that was brought west by a pioneer ancestor:

All I know is that it started west in 1847 from Missouri. I would guess with the family of Dr. John Savage as one of his daughters (my great grandmother) was the cook. It came on west and settled near Salem Or. Doc. Savage’s daughter met and married my great grand father on the trail and they had 10 children. It was passed on to me though my parents when they passed away. I am 76 years old so that was some time ago. I first learned to use the starter in a basque sheep camp when I was 10 years old as we were setting up a homestead on the Steens Mountains in southeastern Oregon. A campfire has no oven, so the bread was baked in a Dutch Oven in a hole in the ground in which we had built a fire, placed the oven, scraped in the coals from around the rim, and covered with dirt for several hours. I used it later making bread in a chuck wagon on several cattle drives – again in southeastern Oregon. ”


- Get Carl’s Starter
- Carl’s steps to revive and sustain the starter
- the show-n-tell page of Carl’s starter in action


posted February 10th, 2007 at 5:32 am

Whoa, that is strange! And yet, compelling… thanks for the tip!

posted February 11th, 2007 at 1:06 am

This is a great tip – I’m sending for it tomorrow :)

- Anne
posted February 14th, 2007 at 8:40 am

I’ve done this, although I used the sourdough starter that I’ve been maintaining (based on the little plastic jar of starter I bought from King Arthur Flour’s catalogue.) I described my success with doing sourdough No-Knead on my blog, (which I rush to explain is simply a no-frills, rotten-photos sporadic blog I keep in lieu of writing as many damn letters as I should to family and friends.)

I’ve made the bread many times now, most not blogged about. I increased the size of the dough after my first couple of attempts, because I didn’t feel the original was quite big enough for my Dutch oven. The basic method seems to work well for both yeast dough and sourdough, and is very forgiving — I really don’t strictly measure any of the ingredients, just follow a loose recipe, and the results have been wonderful every time. I wish I could post some decent pics, but will have to content myself with the lousy ones I have for now. On Jan. 26 I posted about the yeast version, I see, and on Feb. 4 I explained how I’ve been doing the sourdough version.

At any rate, I just wanted to let you know that this Bittman/Lahey method works marvelously for sourdough, and a good thing it does, as I have starter bubbling away all through the week and my husband and son have become spoiled rotten and expect home-baked bread or nothing. (They’re also willing to make it themselves, and have turned out some great loaves despite their lack of experience, which may also speak well for this recipe/method.)


- Lene'
posted February 15th, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Thanks for the tip. I’ve sent my envelope.

posted March 1st, 2007 at 8:41 pm

I’ve got a batch in the fridge waiting for me to get up the nerve to try and bake some bread with it.

In fact, I’ve got a blog post about it here:

There’s another source of starter listed too. =)

- Steen
posted July 21st, 2008 at 3:55 pm

I tried the 1847 Oregon Trail Doctor’s Bread. It had a great taste, full flavored. I followed the recipe exactly. It ended up not being a stiff dough, so the loaves lost their shape. Also it over proofed and the final product fell apart after 24 hours. I had talked to someone about the fact that the recipe called for yeast and typically the starter is the rising agent, not yeast. Has anyone else tried this recipe? Suggestions?

- peggy
posted May 17th, 2019 at 10:48 am

The address information to obtain the starter has been removed?????

That happens.
try googling it? Good luck.


- Michele
posted June 11th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Wow, superb weblog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for? you make running a blog glance easy. The full look of your website is wonderful, as well as the content material!

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