The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Salt rising bread success

Magari's picture

Salt rising bread success

Hello all! I have lurked here for years and posted occasionally, lost my account info for I just made this one so I could share here. 

For years I have been obsessed with salt rising bread. I think it's a love or hate thing. I happen to love it. I have tried to make it myself for years and never truly succeeded. I've had some almosts, and close enoughs but it was never what I knew it should be.

I read all the articles and recipes, watched all the videos, read all the posts and still it eluded me. I must have gone through 50 lbs of flour over the years in failed attempts., it became a challenge I couldn't let go of.

One night I was laying in bed reading the book "salt rising bread" again as a refresher before my next planned attempt and I read something I never considered before. There is a "tip" for bakers who lack the time for two rises. They said you can skip the second rise (sponge) if you want and it will still come out OK and many people do this. Well. Game on. 

I had also read one of the authors of that book recommending that adding a little chickpea flour boosts the success rate. I decided to try these changes and BOOM success beyond my wildest dreams. 

The starter I use is a combination of several recipes with the addition of the chickpea flour. I use one large potato sliced, I add two tbl all purpose flour, two tbl chickpea flour, 4 tbl cornmeal, 2 tbl sugar, a few pinches of salt and 1 tsp baking soda. I put this in a corning ware casserole dish and pour in 4 cups of boiling water and stir it up a bit. Cover with cling wrap and poke a hole in it so it can breath a bit. I do this around 6 pm in the evening and I put it in my breville smart oven on the dehydrate setting at 110 degrees. I forget about it until the next morning. It is usually ready between 10-12 in the afternoon. The foam is bubbling and the stench is smelled rooms away. A previous error was not waiting long enough. The starter always takes longer for me than what other people seem to report. 

The next step for me is to warm a large mixing bowl and pour the smelly liquid into the bowl. I pick out the potatoes and discard. I then begin to add flour along with about a tbl of sea salt (this is my pref it doesn't taste salty it's just the right amount for me for two large loaves you can adjust to your liking) . I stir with a wooden spoon. When it starts to look like it's holding it's shape pretty well and it's not too soupy or wet I turn it out on a board and start gently adding a little more flour being careful not to add too much. It will be sticky but it shouldn't be like ciabatta you want more flour than that or the texture will be gummy. At that point I divide it into two large loaf pans and place it back into the oven with the dehydrator setting on for as long as it takes for it to rise to the top of the pans. This can take anywhere from one to three hours. 

I bake at 400 for about 25-30 min. I haven't had a fail since I started skipping the second rise and adding the chickpea flour. And the flavor is stronger than my previous attempts in a good way. Maybe because I'm not adding any additional water to the starter? The texture is light and delicate and, crunchy toasted and the flavor is complex, a combo of cheddar, parmesan, Camembert with a very faint hint of blue cheese.When I followed other recipes that instructed you to make a sponge and then make the final dough I always had problems at that point. It would look bubbly and like it was active but it would bake up into a brick or it would be sour. I guess my judgement was never correct as far as when the sponge was ready. 

Anyway, I've been enjoying this bread now regularly I slice it up and freeze and pull out a couple of slices at a time when I want it. I felt compelled to share here as I suspect there may be someone else who is as frustrated as I was and maybe these tips might help!


Moe C's picture
Moe C

I have linked this thread to the most current one on the subject.

Magari's picture

Thank you so much for that! Happy to be added to the info to help others looking for tips! 

jennybardwell's picture

So glad you had success making salt rising bread and that the chickpea flour helped. I find this helps, as well. and doesn't detract from the wonderful cheesy flavor. Interesting to hear more about the no-sponge method! You must have a strong starter to not need the sponge step.

Please check out my new children's book, Mystery Bread of the Hollows, to help keep this wonderful tradition alive!

Genevieve Bardwell