hostess with the mostest-bread baking day #39, salt rising bread

Bread Baking Day #39 - Salt Rising Bread (last day of submission May 1st, 2011)it’s that time again.  what time is that you ask-why it is bread baking time and luckily for you, i am hosting this month’s bread baking day celebration.  for those of you not familiar with bread baking day, it is a monthly event for bread bakers of all skill levels which was created by none other than zorra of kochtopf.  each month, the chosen host picks a theme and the participants bake a bread to match the theme and then blog about it.  at the end of the month the host posts a round up featuring photos of what each participant has baked.  since the theme changes each month, there is always something new to look at and learn about.  still not sure, then hurry over to cindystar’s blog to check out the round up for march.  
baking bread is something i truly enjoy.  there is something magical about turning a wet, sticky mess into a smooth and elastic dough and finally watching as it rises in the oven.  better still is the chance to do this without adding a bunch of yeast by growing your own natural leavener.  but honestly, sourdough has been done-over done to some extent and that is why i have chosen to go to the next level.  the theme for april 2011 is salt-rising dough.  a mixture that can include potatoes, stone ground cornmeal and milk is allowed to ferment and the resulting bacterial growth leavens the bread.  so before you think this is sourdough, it is different in that it uses yeast as well as bacteria for the leavener and it does not ferment long enough to actually be sour tasting.  it is also notoriously fickle and difficult to make.  everything i read about it stated that i may or may not get bread.  that sounded like a challange, almost a dare so i had to jump in and give it a shot.

for those of you that have not heard of this bread, i am posting two recipes at the end of this post that you can use.  however, feel free to use any salt rising bread recipe that you like and to include it in the post with as many helpful hints as possible.  anyone brave enough to bake along needs to know a few rules for participating:
  1. please keep in mind that i speak and read in english-when you contact me, do so in english please. also, please have your blog post in english or at least partially in english and if you can add a translator button to the nonenglish parts of your blog-wonderful.  
  2. post your entry on your blog and link back to this page.
  3. email me with the following information:  name of your blog, the permalink for the post, your name, country and city and a 300x300pixel photo of your bread.
  4. the deadline is may 1, 2011.
  5. email me at and be sure to put bbd#39 in the subject line.

good luck bakers, may the power of bread be with you!

salt-rising bread #1
one note about this process-it has an incredibly strong odor!  when i say that, i mean it really smells bad from the moment that the starter begins to ferment to the moment that it finishes baking.  you may think something has gone wrong but do not worry, it has a pleasant flavor with no hint of the stink!  it truly lives up to the reputation of having a cheesey smell and taste. 
adapted from the fannie farmer baking book by marion cunningham
3 (8x4x2) loaves
2 medium potatoes-peeled and sliced thin (i forgot to peel mine!)
1 quart boiling water
1/4 cup stone ground cornmeal-needs to be whole grain cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
place the potatoes in a bowl and add the water.  stir in the remaining ingredients and place this somewhere that the temperature will remain warm constantly-i used my oven with the light on.  allow this to sit for 24 hours which will give it time to get foamy on top and develop the bacteria and the cheesy smell.  remove the potatoes and discard them.

the potato starter fully fermented-warning:it smells strongly!

1 1/2 cups milk
the starter
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
heat the milk until it is a little warmer than body temperature.  add the milk, baking soda and the flour to the starter and mix until smooth.  cover and set it in the same warm spot until it doubles in bulk-about 2-3 hours it will be creamy and light when ready but do not let it go too long because it will begin to sour and that will change the flavor.

the sponge made from the potato starter

4-6 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons shortening
the sponge
place 4 cups of the flour and the salt in a mixing bowl and rub in the shortening thoroughly.  add the flour mixture to the sponge and mix it until combined.  using the remaining flour, knead it into the dough as required to form a smooth and slightly heavy dough-about 10 minutes.  divide into 3 pieces, shape them into loaves and place into greased loaf pans.  allow to rise until about 1/3 larger and expect this to take as long as 3 hours-i did it overnight in the fridge and then let it sit on the counter until room temp.  bake at 350 until golden brown, 45-55 minutes.  turn out of the pans and cool on a rack

the bread baked from the potato starter has a dense crumb and while it loses the smell during the baking, it retains a cheesy aroma

salt rising bread #2
adapted from the american woman’s cookbook-wartime edition, 1944
this is an old book but not a completely uncommon one-i have two different editions and have seen others in stores that sell old books.
2 loaves

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons stone ground cornmeal-whole grain cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
heat the milk but it is not necessary to get it hot, stir in the remaining ingredients.  pcover the bowl and place it somewhere warm-again i used m oven for this step.  let it rise until it starts to get bubbly-the recipe states this will happen in 6-7 hours, i let mine go almost 24 hours to get it bubbly.

the milk starter at the beginning on top and fully developed on the bottom

1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons shortening, oil or butter-melted and cooled if solid
2 cups all purpose flour
add the ingredients to the starter and mix until smooth.  allow the sponge to rest, covered, in the warm spot until it gets bubbly-mine took about 4-6 hours.

about 3 cups all purpose flour
stir in about 2 1/2 cups flour to make a soft dough.  using some more of the flour, turn the dough out onto a floured  surface and knead it until smooth and no longer sticky-about 5-10 minutes.  shape into loaves and place into greased loaf pans.  place the pans in the warm spot and let them rise until doubled

the bread baked from the milk starter has a slightly more open crumb and luckily, it never  gained the smell that the potato starter had. 

6 thoughts on “hostess with the mostest-bread baking day #39, salt rising bread

  1. Thanks for this. I have been trying to make sense of some old family recipes from the era of the 1908 San Fransisco earthquake. For sure, it is a variation on this method.


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