The Fresh Loaf

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Salt Rising Bread - how does it work?

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Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Salt Rising Bread - how does it work?

A friend on the other side of the planet said he was making "Salt Risen Bread" and was wondering if I could help figure out why his didn't have enough oven spring. 


Well, first I had to point out I was unfamiliar with "salt risen" (or salt rising, as it seems to be referred to more in Google), the few recipes I checked first all seemed to be ancient : "use sweet milk", "mix in a quart of flour" and "add a lump of lard", the sort of thing you'd find in old farmer's recipes with estimated amounts and vague temp ranges. 


Anyway, I did locate one or two more modernized recipes and it seems to be a "starter" made from ether potato or cornmeal, with some baking soda and salt. Salt, in fact, seems to be rather minor in the whole process so I have no clue why it's called that. Much of the process needs to be done at rather warm temps, like 100º or so, and the mash/starter takes a day or two to get active. 


My friend says it's supposed to be like starter "in that you're 'catching' bacteria to do the rise"...


Anyone here familiar with it and know how it works? Or have a good, detailed recipe?


And his original question was how long to let it rise before putting it in the oven as his rose very unevenly (oven spring) and barely at all after 4 hours in the proofing stage. 


Thanks to anyone who can shed light on this.

swtgran's picture
swtgran

Salt risen bread is called that because years ago the "starter" container was placed in warm salt to help the cornmeal mixture to stay at the appropriate temperature to start foaming on top. 


Salt risen bread has an odor some people think smells like cheese and others think smells like dirty socks. I would say any I have made has a cheese smell and makes the absolute best toast there is.

swtgran's picture
swtgran

I make my starter by putting it in a quart jar and placing it in my yougurt maker.  It seems to be the perfect temperature.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Supposedly raised by bacteria. Supposed to have a unique, cheesy taste.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_rising_bread


http://www.texfiles.com/pioneercooking/PC1.htm#BREAD  RECIPES 


see #4 in recipes


http://lonehand.com/Vintage%20Bread%20Recipes.html Scroll down to salt rising


http://heritage.uen.org/resources/Wc1479b06d66f8.htm Scroll down to salt rising bread

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

"Microbiology of salt rising bread.

Juckett G, Bardwell G, McClane B, Brown S.


West Virginia University School of Medicine, USA.


Salt rising bread (SRB) is an Appalachian traditional bread made without yeast, using a starter derived from flour, milk and potatoes. The "rising agent" has been identified as Clostridium perfringens, not salt, and is presumably derived from the environment. Although no cases of illness have been attributed to SRB, C. perfringens type A is a common cause of food poisoning from meats and gravies. Other C. perfringens isolates may cause enteritis necroticans (pig-bel disease) and gas gangrene. Past research documents that pathogenic strains derived from wounds may be used to produce bread and that bacteria isolated from this bread retain their pathogenicity. SRB starter samples were cultured at the University of Pittsburgh and abundant C. perfringens, type A grew out of all samples. However none of the cultures were positive for enterotoxin and thus would be unlikely to cause human food borne disease. While this does not preclude the possibility of other starter mixes containing enteropathogenic strains, the baking process appears to reduce bacterial contamination to safe levels and SRB has not been implicated in causing any human disease."


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18646681/

jj1109's picture
jj1109

I would be extremely hesitant to use ANY member of the Clostridium family - they really are not nice bacteria - eg. Cl. botulinum is the bacteria that gives us botox (a nasty poison before it became medical tool).


and if my bread had a cheesy taste, I'd throw it away... if I want cheese taste, I eat some cheese!

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

"To each, his own".


Please let the cooler, more rational heads prevail here. While the passage notes the harmful potential of Cl. bacteria, certainly the pertinent and most important conclusion here is salt rising bread is not harmful.


I knew I should have done some strategic highlighting when the opportunity was there:


"...no cases of illness have been attributed to SRB...


...the baking process appears to reduce bacterial contamination to safe levels and SRB has not been implicated in causing any human disease..."

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

wow, those are really horror stories!

Thomas Mc's picture
Thomas Mc

If you do try making it, you should plan on baking your first attempt on a warm day when you can leave all the windows and doors open. The smell is overpowering, and almost enough to make a person sick, if the house is closed up.


That said, it does make for a fantastic "adult" grilled cheese sandwich, but I wouldn't use the bread for anything else other than maybe toast. It is definitely one of those tastes that a lot of people find revolting.


Once you have a starter going, you can just freeze some, and skip the whole potatoes and cornmeal step on future batches.

swtgran's picture
swtgran

I have made this bread several times and it is not as stinky as made out to be.  It is really delicious and has a mild taste when baked.  It has a nice texture.  In some restaurants it is a signature breakfast bread.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

First thanks for the detailed info on the biology. It sounds like an interesting "vintage" type bread.


So it is, as my friend suggested, similar to sourdough except it's drawing on a different type of bacterial culture from different source, in his case cornmeal. And a faster one to cultivate.


Now to his issue. He left it to proof for 4 hours (I don't know what set up he had to keep it very warm but he's a fairly advanced cook so I'll assume he did that properly) and got nearly no rise, "barely one inch" he said, and when baked very uneven oven spring.


Anyone who's made this have suggestions? 


 

Thomas Mc's picture
Thomas Mc

When I first tried it, I poured boiling water over the potatoes and cornmeal in a jar, and put that in a small insulated container overnight. I opened it up the next day, expecting a "dirty sock" odor, but it just smelled like potatoes. I was busy, so instead of cleaning it up right away, I stuck the jar back inside, and promptly forgot about it. When I realized it was still in there a day later, and went to clean it out, sure enough, it stunk and was bubbling, so I completed the processes.


Did your friend wait until the sponge had at least doubled in size? That's how you know that the starter is active enough.


Also, whereas normal sourdough requires a low pH, and lower temps (70-80s), a salt risen culture requires high pH, and high temps (100-120F). Adding baking soda or pickling lime will raise the pH, but you also have to keep the sponge and dough warm enough for the culture to stay active. As the bacteria metabolizes, it produces acid which lowers the pH, so you do need that soda or lime buffer, or once the pH drops to 7 the bacteria just shuts down.


 

mountaineer cookie company's picture
mountaineer coo...

Looks like I need to get on that tutorial, I don't know much about the science behind this bread, but I've had a lot of luck with it.  I make my bread in a three stage method, Starter, sponge, then loaves.  Also, if you make the dough to stiff it will not rise, and will have poor oven spring.