Kau Kau Kitchen - Table of ContentsKau Kau Kitchen
by Leilehua Yuen         

         Around the world, carbohydrates rank number one as comfort food. Here in Hawai`i, the top carbohydrates are poi, rice, and saloon pilot crackers. At right, a classic Hawaiian breakfast - Saloon pilots in coffee, with LOTS of sugar! Click on the image for gift items. 

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Greeting cards and other gifts with Hawai`i's favorite comfort food - Saloon pilot crackers in a bowl of coffee

Hawaiian Breakfast
For Recipe Click Here


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     Bread baking began in Hawai`i when the great whaling ships began to make our islands a port of call. But the first breads baked here were not the fluffy white loaves you find in Love's Bakery today - they were hard tack! When the missionary wives arrived, they felt that bread baked from the hard mouldy flour shipped from New England was better fare for their families than the abundant but "heathen" taro and breadfruit. So they re-ground the flour with mortar and pestle and baked it into loaves.

     In my own family, on my mother's side, we take great pride in our baking, and the Packwood Ranch sourdough starter is considered a family heirloom. Unlike many family recipes, when one receives this, rather than being sworn to secrecy, one is sworn to generosity. When given either a handful of the starter, or the recipe to make your own, you must promise to divide it and give some starter and/or the recipe to any who ask. The wisdom of this was born out for me when I was on a business trip and my starter died. I was able to get more from a friend to whom I had given some years before. So, here I shall pass the recipe on to you. As this is not exactly like the original starter which came across the great American continent in my great-great-great-grandmother's Conestoga Wagon, I have changed the name a bit. She likely had never heard of Hawai`i, though she did see the odd "Miner Fourty-Niner" hurrying past in his quest for the gold of California. 

Packwood Paniolo Sourdough Starter

     Into a thoroughly clean plastic tub or ceramic bowl place four handfuls of fine white flour. Add water to moisten. Add beer until the starter flows very slowly off the spoon. Cover with a clean dish towel and set in a warm place to rise. Divide the risen starter, mixing a portion with fresh flour and setting it aside for future use, and taking the rest for the day's baking. The more often you do this, saving and growing your starter, the better it will taste. Good starter needs time to develop its full flavor.

Packwood Sourdough Sponge

     Put a pound of flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle. Place a handful of starter in the well and add water, milk, beer, or whatever liquid is desired to make a fairly runny puddle - about like an egg yolk. Cover with a clean dish towel and let sit overnight. In the morning, the sponge should have a nice tart "yeasty" smell.

Sourdough Bread

     Gradually fold in the flour, adding more flour or liquid if needed. When the dough has reached a firm, but elastic, consistency, turn out on to a floured board and knead. The dough should feel smooth and elastic, stretchy, but not rubbery.
     Coat with oil (I like olive oil) and cover with a clean towel to rise. When doubled, punch down and knead the dough again. Coat again with oil, and place on a floured baking sheet or in a bread pan. You can also divide it into smaller loaves if you like.
     Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
     Remove from oven and let cool. As an extra tasty treat, when it is hot you can rub butter over the crust.


Saloon Pilot Crackers - Pilot Crackers
Either Way, it's Still Hard Tack!

Click for the story of how a shipboard mainstay became a Hawaiian staple.
Greeting cards and other gifts with Hawai`i's favorite comfort food - Saloon pilot crackers in a bowl of coffee

Hawaiian Breakfast
For Recipe Click Here