Salt rising bread is made according to an old recipe that seems to have originated in the Appalachian mountains.
|[By Wonderland Kitchen - Salt-Rising Bread, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38260338]|
The Wikipedia article states:
Salt-rising (or salt-risen) bread is a dense white bread that was widely made by early settlers in the Appalachian Mountains in a process that involves no yeast. Instead, the leavening agents are wild organisms ubiquitous in nature. Salt in the name is a misnomer, since the salt levels are relatively low, around 20 mg per slice. It is thought that the salt used in the starter is used to suppress yeast growth and provide an environment more conducive for the microbes to grow, enhancing the distinct flavors which predominate over the more typical yeast flavors. Another assumption regarding the name is that chunks of rock salt were heated and used to provide a warm, stable temperature in which to incubate a "starter" overnight. Salt-rising bread is made from wheat flour, with a starter consisting of a liquid (water or milk), either corn, potatoes, or wheat, and some other minor ingredients. The starter distinguishes itself from a sourdough starter by working best with an incubation period of 6–16 hours at temperatures ranging from 38–45 °C (100–113 °F); a sourdough starter will usually work best at or below room temperature. The resulting bread is of a dense crumb and favorable cheese-like flavor.
Mom says that the recipe she used for years was similar to one found on Cookpad.com, but, she says, it's a very temperamental recipe. The ingredients in the Cookpad recipe are:
- 3 large baking potatoes
- 3 tbsp NOT DEgerminated yellow cornmeal
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cup boiling water
- 2 cup warm milk
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil OR melted shortening
- 5 lb bag of bread flour
The recipe Mom likes now is one she found in the March/April 2015 issue of Backwoods Homes magazine. This recipe uses two starters, combined.
1/2 cup whole milk
3tsp stone-ground organic cornmeal
1tsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
8oz hot water (110-120F)
1/2tsp table salt
1/8tsp baking soda
7oz unbleached flour
All of Starter 1
Once these starters are "working" you add them to:
2oz soft unsalted butter
10oz unbleached flour
The bread is baked 350 for 35-40 minutes.
If you are familiar with baking bread, this will all seem quite normal, just proceed like you do with making bread. If you are unfamiliar, please get the article...not found online. You'll have to click the link above and order a copy of the magazine. If you really want to get into this, there's a book, Salt Rising Bread, available on Amazon.
While you are waiting for that bread to rise and bake, read this great article:
The Disquieting Delights Of Salt-Rising Bread: How Clostridium, a nasty pathogen, makes an infectiously delicious confection
I've recently come across a fringe fermentation method that, unlike the breads and brews and yogurts and pickles and misos we know and love, isn't run by the usual benign microbes. The engine behind this fermentation method is Clostridium perfringens, a close relative of bacteria that cause botulism, tetanus, and food poisoning. It can eat flesh. It gives gas gangrene its name by causing putrefying flesh wounds that bubble and foam with flammable hydrogen. And it can make something surprisingly delicate and tasty.Whatever recipe you use, you will be guaranteed a great loaf of bread that makes a very tasty toast.
As befits a nasty pathogen, Clostridium perfringens grows aggressively. Its cells can divide every ten minutes, a handful turning into trillions of hydrogen makers overnight. That hydrogen gas can leaven dough just as yeast-generated carbon dioxide does. The result is something known as "salt-rising bread." A century ago, a scientist went so far as to bake bread leavened with Clostridium perfringens drawn from an infected wound, in what the West Virginia Medical Journal called "perhaps the most macabre experiment in culinary history."
Maybe Mom will be so kind to grace us with her presence in the comments should anyone have any questions about Salt Rising Bread.