The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Salt risen bread cracking

echarlto's picture

Salt risen bread cracking

I am trying to duplicate my grandmother's recipe for salt-rising bread.  I can make a good starter and a good sponge.  My finished loaves split, either on the sides or on top, or both.  I knead the bread in a Kenwood stand mixer and I suspect I'm either kneading improperly or underproofing the loaves.  I'm using about 55% hydration.  If I add more flour and go down to 45%, I make bricks that sometimes still split on the sides.  I knead the dough on a setting of 2-4.  If I use a slower speed, the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl and turns into taffy!  I'm typically kneading for 8-10 minutes.

After I shape the loaves, I'm filling my loaf pans about 1/3 full.  I've been raising the loaves until double and have gone so far as to put some of the dough in a measuring cup to be sure I was really letting it double.  Loaves still split!  By accident I set my dough in the measuring cup aside last night and forgot about it.  This morning, that sample had more than tripled in volume, making me suspect I'm still underproofing.

Any advice to this newbie greatly appreciated.


Ford's picture

My experience has been that the critters that cause the rising (Clostridium perfringens) rather well destroys the gluten in the dough by the time the dough has doubled in size.  I usually place about 33 oz. of dough in a 5" x 9" loaf pan (2 qt).  I let the dough rise to the top and bake.  No need to slash -- it will not help; the dough is very soft at this point.

Other notes:  Clostridium perfringens is reported to be the bacterium responsible for the leavening of salt rising bread.  Spores of this bacterium are common in many products of the plant kingdom.  The bacteria require a nearly neutral environment to flourish and a relatively high temperature.  The range of 90 to 110°F seems to be the optimum.

Right now, I am going through a period of failure to develop the starter.  I envy your problem, as it seems to be easily solvable.


billyn's picture

I know it's been a while, but I just joined and saw your post.  The problem may be solved by now and this may not work but:

I have been baking bread for some time and still have a lot to learn.  Salt risin bread (srb) is a favorite of mine, from the days of my childhood, thanks to my grandmother.  I tried in the past to recreate it from her recipe with limited success and have recently begun to research it again - it seems my problem was in using too low a temp to develop the starter - only 1 successful batch of all the ones that I tried before I stopped.  It did give me some patience with bakers that sold srb that really, in  my opinion, wasn't and convinced me that if I wanted real srb I needed to get busy again.

Anyway, back to your question, when my grandmother made srb she always, put two pieces of dough (small loaves, the length of the pan) side by side in the pan and let them rise together.  This resulted in loaves that had a depression down the length of the loaf and when the bread was sliced if you wished you could easily break the bread into two approx. equal halves (but if not it held together without a problem).  I do not know if she did this because the bread cracked as it baked or if it was just the way she did it but she did not do this with any of the other breads she made.  I don't know if this will help but it is the first thing I thought of when I read your post.